Interview With Dorothy Evelyn Begg
Webmaster Note: While researching for a book about Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, lifelong resident Louise Shattuck and co-writer David James came across this transcript of a recorded interview with my grandmother, Dorothy Evelyn Begg. It gave me a lot of insight into her life and what it was like at Lake Pleasant. The book, "Spirit and Spa.", is now in print and contains an entire chapter about my grandmother. This chapter precedes the interview below.
The book is available at:
Mrs. Begg, October 15, 1973: Side 1
(The interview has been scheduled, tape recorder prearranged. We are
meeting in the cottage which her son and daughter-in-law are renovating
because of the socket for the tape recorder. The tape is difficult to
understand. They are paving roads at the lake and the sand roller keeps
B: ... and they used to wheel her outside of the temple and open the
side doors so she could hear the speeches.
K: This was the old temple?
B: Yes, the old temple. Judge Budington would come by you know and
hed hail her and he'd say Hi sister and she'd give him a very modest
hello you know and he'd say see you over Jordan, see you over Jordan.
K: Did you know, Elliot, that young man who lives here. He said that
he went to one of The National Spiritualist Alliance meetings and that
at the time he was on crutches and that the person who was leading the
meeting said everyone concentrate for this man so he can get off his
crutches and he walked without his crutches. I wondered whether now if
I can get the name right. (David Vale led me to Elliot who led me to
Mrs. B and the Shattucks.)
B: Spiritual Alliance
K: No, but wondering if at the other one, the New England Spiritualist
Camp Association ... is that what is the whole name? ... whether any of
the mediums also did any healing.
B: If they did I don't remember. It was mostly message work and
speeching ... speeches about the faith and so forth. They did have in
the latter years after I left here for awhile after I married ... Sunday
afternoon healing services come to think of it. They had a man and his
wife. I can't remember their names who did hold healing services and
what luck they had I don't know but not during their flush years when
everything was going well.
K: I think it was maybe in this article that it said Jacobs Well was
noted for its water.
B: Oh, its water was perfectly marvelous. When I was a little thing I
lived up here at the end of this street. That was my grandmothers home
and they would send me all the way over across the bridge to Jacobs
Well for a pitcher of water for dinner.
K: Where was the well?
B: You know ... now at the present post office where the road ends and
there's a curved fence overlooking the lake there.
K: I'm trying to think. On this side right here?
(Oh how I wish I had taped the first interview or taken more extensive
notes so I would have a better idea of the interpersonal dynamics behind
K: Did you come to camp here before you came to live here?
K: No? So, 1940 was your first experience then?
B: No, no, no. You asked when I brought my family here.
K: Oh, no. I meant when you came as a child.
B: Oh, I was born here. I was the only baby born here until after World
War I ... 1898.
K: Oh. So you've been here the ...
B: Oh, Ive been here.
K: Through the whole thing
B: Oh, yes. I've been away from here. We came here summers and I was
away from here until I was about 10. Then my mother left my father.
She left him when I was four. But she had left him and came back here
and we spent the winters here then.
K: Just the two of you?
B: Yes. And then when I was 18 I married from Greenfield ... from the
aunts home in the wheelchair. And we stayed in Greenfield. We didn't
come over here at all. My husband was not at all pleased with this
place. He was a Sargent Major in the British army and he was Scotch.
Bobby Burnss grand nephew. And it was a good many years before I
discovered he did believe in it and was very proud of me, but he never
K: But you had the impression he didn't want you ...
B: Didn't want me. Oh, he forbade me.
B: Let me tell you. I was I to have nothing to do with this
K: Do you know why he did that?
B: Oh, no knowledge at all. So it was quite a few years before I got
back here at all and during that period it went downhill. I didn't
come back here until 1938.
(B born 1898 -- summers -- then circa 1908 Mrs. B and mother return and
stay winters -- then circa 1916 she left and didnt come back until
B: Well you know where Helen Wellss house is? (All the houses are
described by their occupants -- present or forever.)
K: Right near her house.
B: Well then there's a road and then there's a bank. Jacobs Well was
over in there.
K: There's a path that goes down to the water there around the curve?
K: Here's Helen's house and then you go around this curve.
B: Yes. It would be on your left there and for a great many years the
platform was left long after the house was gone. I don't know whether
there's a plank there or yet or not.
K: Yes. I wonder.
B: That you could see.
K: Was the water supposed to be just good water? Or ... or was it
supposed to have healing properties?
B: No. Oh, just fine water. Just excellent water and although we had a
pump and beautiful water ourselves they always sent me after it
especially if there was company and a glass pitcher can get pretty heavy
for a small child. I had to come all the way back with it.
K: Let's see. When was it that you moved here with your family? How
old were you?
B: Oh, I came here in 1940.
K: 1940. So that was when it was well past its heyday ... after the
fire and all.
B: Oh yes. Way past it. In fact, it had started to go down in 1920.
I think about then. By going down I mean small groups. We didn't have
the crowds we used to have.
K: It pretty much stopped after the fire didn't it?
B: No, because I remember it and I went to the meetings after the
fire. No. We had large attendance. (OK, so according to Mrs. B the
fire was not the cause of Lake Pleasants decline.)
K: You were living in Greenfield all that time?
B: No. I lived in Greenfield and then I moved to ... wait a minute ...
I came here from Greenfield. No, I went out to Bernardston on
Bernardston Road and lived there. Then I was told that Mr. Begg was
very ill and wouldn't live very long and I knew I couldn't manage the
farm. It was too much. So knowing of the lake, I knew it wouldn't cost
very much to get settled here and we came over here in 1940 and I
stayed. After that I didn't try to go to Greenfield but I have known of
the lake and of the people and what was happening here. I lived at the
corner here. I lived at the house which no longer exists over on the
K: At the corner? At the same house that's on the corner now? That
B: That big house, yes. And the little house was attached to it ...
was grandmother's small cottage. Then when her daughter married, her
husband separated it from the big cottage and rented it.
K: Now when you lived at that house was that when you were a little
K: But somebody else had built the house?
B: My grandmother's husband built the house, grandfather. And it was
going to be left to me by everybody's wish, but when the time came
circumstances were financially such that I was a bit alarmed at taking
on another piece of property, so I let it go. I should have kept it so
we'd have the whole street. (Her grandparents came to the lake.)
K: The nicest street?
K: This street's such a contrast to the rest of Lake Pleasant.
B: Oh, it is you know. Well, for me naturally, it's Lake Pleasant. I
wouldn't be happy anywhere else in camp. I know that, of course, you
have no idea of what they have done to this place. This was lived in by
a man all alone in his 80s and he had completely sealed himself in. We
didn't even know these were here until we pulled out the cardboard. No
one knew there were these pillars and things. Cardboard inside and
cardboard outside ... sealed himself in and never got rid of anything.
It took three days with a truck to clean this house out.
K: Was he a spiritualist?
B: I believe he was. Yes, he believed in it, I believe and he believed
strongly in healing and he was a nice old fellow, but he just never
threw anything away and every time anyone moved he took whatever they
left behind, crammed it in here. You just can't imagine what it was
like. I wonder how my son dared tackle it. (discussion about the
renovation of the house carpeting and balcony)
K: Oh, you know one thing I've been wondering about? In a couple of
houses there are Japanese lanterns and when I was reading I think the
Streeter, either that or talking with Mrs. Shattuck, she said that there
was one day when everyone would put up ... Illumination Night, I think
... Japanese lanterns, everyone on the lake. And I wondered if that was
why people still had Japanese lanterns.
B: Well, they may be left over. I don't know, of course. They were
paper lanterns not plastic.
K: These were plastic. (How stupid of me, plastic at the turn of the
B: And they probably disappeared little by little. Oh, I remember our
cottage had them all around the porch. We used them on more than one
night a season. We had them if we had company. They were so pretty.
The whole park was lit with them, the whole park. Well, in the
beginning that little park down there had a tree about every three feet
and we had a wire around the entire park, you know, up high and they
hung the lanterns from that wire and when we had a concert of something,
not a band concert, but we had people here who were very clever
musically and they would gather on the park and play and people would
come and sit and they'd have the lanterns, you know.
K: Did a lot of the activity happen in that park?
B: No. No, not a lot of it, but some of it. And the outdoor
bandstands, you see, there was one down by the lake and one behind the
temple and they were used.
K: This was the old temple on this side?
B: The old temple, yes. Have you pictures of that?
K: No, I haven't seen any.
B: Well, let's see what we've got here. The temple that was on that
hill that burned down ... in back of that down in the grove was the big
K: Now I'm confused as to where this grove was.
B: You know, where they're building the firehouse.
K: Right, yah.
(She has a good number of photographs with her. Until now we have not
looked at them.)
B: You see the little red one? Before that was built that was still
K: That wasn't destroyed by the fire?
B: No, it's modern. It's modern. It wasnt there, but I mean to say
that was there. The temple fire didn't destroy it. The temple ran down
the hill from that.
K: So the fire destroyed almost all of the other side of the lake?
B: Oh, I'm speaking of another fire. There were so many.
B: The other fire destroyed, as he says there, 180 cottages. Now I
want to tell you before I forget it. I had a good deal of material and
I gave it to my son cause he was interested, but he gave it to the
Montague Historical Society and if you can get hold of them there's a
history of the lake with pictures of the old timers and everything in
K: Where's the history from?
B: I don't know. You'll have to ask the librarian. She might know.
K: I mean where did you get the history of the lake? Who wrote it?
B: Oh, well. I was talking with one of the presidents of the
Association one afternoon and she was cleaning out an old desk at the
back of the temple and there were six of these copies. And I said Oh
could I have one? She said Take em all. I don't care. I took
three. I gave one to my daughter, one to Bob and I had one. And then I
don't know what's become of mine. (How did Wonsey get his? I didnt
K: Who wrote it? Do you know?
B: No, but ... no, I don't know who wrote it. I can't remember.
K: Oh, but it says on the history?
B: Oh yes. It says on it and that gives the statistics. And it has a
few small articles. And now this ... this is entirely gone now.
K: That was the bridge?
B: That was the bridge. Under here was the ice house. They used to
cut ice on the lake and take it up here and store it in sawdust and we
had it for summer.
K: Is this an artificial beach?
B: No. The lake happened to be low.
K: Now this is where the children walk over to the other side?
B: That's right. Now this building here was an ice cream post office,
ice cream parlor And coming out from here was all screened in porch.
You look right over the lake and tables were there when you had your ice
cream. It was lovely.
K: Now would Jacob's Well be somewhere over here? Sort of by this ice
B: No ... yes, but it would be in that direction along the bank and up
a little ways. Not right in line with it. Now this is ... it will give
you more of an idea. I told you we had a lobster house and boat house.
Well, that nestled right in the cove over there under the railroad
tracks. The railroad tracks are right up here.
K: Oh, so sort of directly across?
B: Well, kitty corner. From where I'm sitting right in there in the
curve of the lake right up against the bank, the railroad bank. This is
where we had our lobster dinners and things of that nature. The train
came up from Boston at 6 o'clock in the morning and delivered fresh
things, fresh fish and lobsters.
K: Now where was the depot? Was it near the outdoor dance pavilion?
B: Well, you're going up the hill. The depot was up there.
K: Now where's the outdoor dance pavilion in relationship to the depot?
I know where that is because of the stone steps.
B: Yes. I think perhaps you can see it through the trees. There's
something. Well, the dance pavilion would be up there. Youd come down
here and you'd come along and there would be the depot.
K: Oh, the depot would be right there?
K: Now the current building for the ... how shall I ... did you ever
have a nickname for the ... well, I don't know what to call it? It's
such a mouthful.
B: The National Alliance.
K: Ok. Oh, I don't mean The National Spiritual Alliance.
K: But the other one.
B: Oh, this is the one that's now opposite the post office.
K: And this is the one you've been connected with?
K: No? You're connected with the original?
B: Yes. (Mrs. B connected with the New England Spiritualist
K: And the inn. Oh, I'll just call it the inn. The inn is now a new
building for the temple down here.
B: No. No. The temple burned down and that was that. Then they began
holding their meetings in ... they rented the National Alliance
B: And had them ... you see the National Alliance only had it through
August and we had it through July ... well maybe June and July. Anyway
they didn't conflict. And they rented it from these people after the
K: What about the inn?
B: The inn is now where they're using ... where Mr. Russell holds his
meetings because they had a squabble over how much they charged for the
Alliance. The groups began to get so small it didn't pay. So he said,
oh well, he'd use the inn. It's big enough. So he did. And here is a
companion picture to that lobster house. You see it's right over there
in the corner.
K: Oh, that's beautiful (garbled) on the lake. Now are these tents in
here? It's sort of hard to see. There's something (garbled)
B: No. That's the sand bank. That's the color of the sand there.
K: Now that sand bank ... it seems so much smaller today.
B: Yes. Oh they took tons and tons out of it for the railroad, you
know, to the tracks in the winter for a great many years. Here's a nice
view of Jacobs Well.
K: Oh, wow. Oh, yah. This helps me figure out where it was. I love
these old postcards that are tinted.
B: Oh, I know it. Here's ... now this is the way it used to be around
the lake. We could walk around the lake.
K: Ooh. I wonder? Did couples ever come to honeymoon at Lake
B: Oh, my lord yes. They did all their courting down by the water.
K: Oh yah? This is called Lovers Lane? Really looks like it.
B: Thats right. That's what it was.
K: Oh. And the big trees are beautiful.
B: Oh, I know it. This is another. This is at the bottom of this
street. You can just see the tip of grannys house up there.
K: Oh. This is not too far down from the Ferry woods.
B: From where dear?
K: The Ferry woods (garbled)
B: No. There wasn't any ferry.
K: No? Well it's what the kids call the Ferry woods. You walk down
this path at the end of the street. (Someone said it was where the
steamboat landed, Lona perhaps?)
K: And you come to a grove.
B: Oh, that cathedral. I call it The Pines. There, yes.
K: Oh, you call it the cathedral?
B: Mmm. It feels so ...
K: Did anything happen down there? Was there any ... it seems sort of
clear and there's like a road going in?
B: No. The only thing those woods were used for was we had a medium,
her name was Jenny Lynd. And she used to take her circle down there in
the woods with her lantern and she had a dinner bell and all about half
past six at night she'd start down. She lived up here. Let me see.
She lived ... mmm ... the house is not even there anymore. She lived
opposite the big white house of Springs up here on Turner Street in a
little cottage. She'd start out with her dinner bell. When they heard
the bell ringing those who wanted to go to the (garbled) seance would
follow her and it got very eerie because she had an Indian guide and she
herself was a trance worker and she'd be whooping and hollering and
carrying on. It scared the light out of me as a child but that's the
only person I know that used it, the woods, for a camp. Now here's our
little steamer that used to go around the lake.
K: Oh, wow. Oh, this is the Uncle Sam?
B: Yes. That's the Uncle Sam.
K: And then there's Baby Belle, too?
B: I've forgotten. Perhaps there was.
K: Did people just go out for sort of, you know, rides for fun? Or was
this used for transportation?
B: Oh no. No. We paid 10 cents a ride and went around the lake three
times for 10 cents and there were people coming all the time. Then, you
see, that was when the place was very popular as a resort as well as a
camping and so he never lacked for passengers and that was a lot of fun
for us. Now this is something that is entirely gone. There's nothing
to remind you. There's the railroad bridge. There's the station.
K: The depot?
B: Mmm, the depot. Now from the dance hall across the tracks was a
ridge and this place was a skating rink, roller skating rink.
K: That little house?
K: Was the rink inside?
K: It's so tiny.
B: And this man got angry at the man who ran the dances because he said
it took away people from him, so he burned the bridge.
K: Oh, no. Sounds sort of crazy.
B: I think can you see a ... is that a sort of box like affair with a
pole coming out of it? Or is the pole the one behind it? But the pole
is where we used to have to hang the mailbags.
K: Yah. Yah. It looks like ...
B: On a hook.
B: And the trains never stopped. They came through but they had an arm
that came out of the mail car and grabbed that bag as they went by. I
used to love to watch them. Seemed so miraculous. They never missed.
They got the bag every time. I was always sure they were going to miss.
K: Now the inn was made of the railroad depot, wasn't it? Somebody
told me that it looks sort of similar. You can just see a little bit of
the depot but you know that main section of the inn that's there now ...
B: Well, now, I am not really sure. There was a hotel here.
K: Next to the railroad depot?
B: Next to the railroad depot. There was a hotel and during the years
that I was gone they may have rolled that hotel up to where the present
hotel is. You'd have to ... you'd have to ask someone else about that.
I wasn't here then during that period so I don't remember.
K: Did all that stuff that was over there near the tracks survive the
B: That was all rebuilt. Yes, yes. The railroad station burned and we
rebuilt a small one and the hotel apparently escaped because it ... I'm
pretty sure that's what happened. They rolled it up the hill and
somewhere there are pictures of that. I don't have it, but somebody may
have. This was taken after the fire. I can't see (garbled) but I don't
think the hotel's back there at all. Those were some of the old timers
K: Oh, they're ...
B: Went to look at the ruins.
K: There's a tower that's in back there. It's on a ... oh, it's the
same picture as in this newspaper. (garbled)
B: What? Of what tower is that? The rail tow ... the tower of ties
that they moved the hotel on?
K: I think it was in this. I ... I also looked at a ... that book that
K: For the Bicentennial. (garbled) Yah, it must have been, but maybe it
was a water tower. I don't know.
B: No. I don't remember any water tower.
K: Oh. Who are these people?
B: Well, I'll tell you some of them. I can't remember them all. This
was the only Negro lady we had here and she was she called herself
Nigger Jackson. And she was a cook for Abraham Lincoln in the White
House before she retired. (All these references to Lincoln.)
K: Oh, no.
K: Was she a medium herself?
N: I don't recall that she was. No, she was just interested. And she
grew very feeble and she had to walk with two canes. I don't know if
she's got them there. Now I think that was later in life. And this was
Mrs. Bukeman who lived where the Finlaysons ... no, no, Mrs. Bukeman who
lived in the house that's being repaired at the top of ... well, near
the fire station. Next door to the fire station.
K: Oh, I know which house.
B: This is Uncle George Cleveland. Came up from Boston every summer to
run the Lyceum for the children. (No one Ive talked with seems to know
much about the Lyceum.)
K: Lyceum? That's the church school?
B: Mmm. He thought the children should be brought up in the faith as
well as the older people.
K: Was that like a Sunday school?
B: A Sunday school, yes. And he ran a Sunday school (garbled) in a
church in Boston and he came up every summer and he tented out. Near
the county road. He had his tent out there.
K: A church, I wonder?
B: This is a ... this is Grampa Critchley. He lived down where your
woods start. Down here, the Ferry woods. His house has gradually
fallen apart, And the water company has taken it down now. It was
there up to two or three years ago. And he played the last Dixie in the
Union Army on his coronet. He used to he say he played for Lincoln at
the (garbled) death. He had a rowboat and he would go out in the
morning, play Reveille, and at night, at sunset, he would play a ...
K: Taps ?
B: Taps. I'll never forget that in all my life. That taps floating
over the water. You don't (garbled)
END OF TAPE ONE: SIDE ONE
Mrs. Begg: October 15, 1973: Tape one: side two
B: ... tory of any place is the history of its people. It's nothing
without them and ... and these people were all so individual. They ...
K: It sounds as if they really cared about one another to ... to do so.
B: They did. They did. We were all, well now you might call it nosy.
In those days it was really interest.
K: What where they like? Were they from all walks of life? Or were
they mainly ...
B: Oh, yes.
B: Well, you see, Doc Critchley was a doctor. And he had money. When
he was older (garbled) Civil War. And, ah, let me think ... oh, we had
professors from Boston and a great many New York, the people that built
Davids house. The man was an editor in Chicago ... Chicago News, I
think. And, while I think of it, I want to tell you the names of the
three newspapers we had here. I thought of them the other night. We
had the Wildwood Messenger, the Banner of Life, and, oh dear, what was
the last one (too soft to make out)
K: I think somewhere I didn't read about the Banner of Life, but I read
about the Wildwood Messenger. Oh, it was in an article by Streeter.
B: Oh, well, he printed one paper.
K: Mmm, let's see.
B: Something with a star,
K: Pinewood Star.
B: Pinewood Star. So those were the three little papers.
K: Are there any ... do you know if anybody has any copies of these
B: Yes. I sent two down to the Montague ...
K: Historical Society. I'll have to (garbled)
B: find out. (Alas, they have no record of them.) These are some more
people from the lake. And at the foot of the Temple Hill for a good
many years they had this little store and refreshment place.
K: Is this where they sold the postcards?
B: Yes, they sold postcards there. I think there are two of those ...
these just alike, pretty near. You can have one.
K: Oh, they are. Thank you.
B: This is Denton Street ... the street we're now on ... long ago. I
don't know how long ago. Youll see how much more rural it was.
K: So many trees. Oh, you know now they're paving the roads. Is that
the first time theres been any paved roads?
B: Mmm. It's better for people with automobiles. I know Mrs. Adams
complains bitterly of the potholes that shakes the car to pieces.
K: Oh, its interesting to me how this has changed. It must have been
all hardwood, but now it's grown to hemlock.
B: Well, we had several fires, small fires that destroyed. And they
lumbered it too at one time. They took off the hardwood. They needed
money and they sold it, yes. And so these trees ... oh we did have some
beautiful trees especially right in here. And then they replanted, not
the big ones. Here's another. I think this might be a duplicate of the
K: Wait. Aren't these the same bridge?
B: Yes, that's the same and then that got dangerous.
K: And then?
B: And Mrs. Rutter put up the one that finally broke down.
K: Now is this the one she put up? Or is this the old one?
B: Does this have a ... this have a little house?
B: (garbled) at each end there was one of these (garbled) was kept with
flowers, hollyhocks and things, in memory of her son. So these two are
the same thing. So you've got the bridge there but you can just see
here ... oh, this ones much older. It's got the ice house underneath
it and its got Henry's ice cream parlor there at the end, see?
K: Oh, an older photograph of the same bridge.
B: Yes (too soft).
K: Up so high.
B: Oh, yes. Very high.
K: It says ... there's a sign here that says Neighborhood Club.
B: Yes. I dare say. Now I think this ... this is the hotel that was
over ... you know where the long building is ... as you turn onto the
B: On your right.
B: That long building. Well this was across there ... stood.
K: It was on the other side of the main road?
B: No. On this side of the main road.
K: On this side?
B: That burned down. It was arsoned. The man set it on fire. And he
ran all the way across the bridge to the other side before he told
anybody. And, of course, it was sky high before ... by the time
B: They discovered it. They discovered it was arsoned. Now this is
the ... this was quite important in our lives in the old days. This was
a poor farm. Now you go on the Bluff. And you look over and you'll see
it on ... is that 63? Over there. Where we come up from Montague?
K: Yah, 63.
B: But it's now apartment houses for veterans and young people.
K: Poor farm?
B: Yes we had a poor farm. They didn't have social security. And when
old people came to the point where they couldn't take care of themselves
then they went to the poor farm.
K: Ah, what part did that have ... like you know in your lives?
B: Because we knew so many people who went there. And it ... at the
time I was growing up ... it was run by a Scotch couple and they were
very fine people, wonderful to the old people. The old ladies had their
candy allotment and the men had their tobacco allotment and they had
gorgeous rooms. Rooms that today you'd pay all kinds of money for. One
bedroom would be as big as this room.
K: Was it like a nursing home?
B: Yes, like a ...
K: Retirement home, sort of?
B: No, it wasn't that dignified. They had a room. The old couples
could stay together. They had a room and they were fed at the common
table and they had nothing to do which was kind of bad, but otherwise
they could (garbled)
K: So, you went visiting a lot?
B: And they came over here. Attended our different social occasions
and he came over every morning with a wagon to get the mail and hed
bring them over if they wanted to come, you know. And he came over at
seven at night to get the mail. And he'd take them back. I mean they
treated them like human beings. So it wasn't as terrible as it sounds,
but it was called the poor farm. (Interesting interaction between poor
farm and resort.)
K: A lady at the nursing home where I work who's from Turners said that
she used to come over for dances at Lake Pleasant. She said there was a
gate and you had to pay an admission price to even come in.
B: Oh yes. Where's the temple ... the picture of the temple?
K: Now which temple? There's this one?
B: The big one. There's only one. Oh, oh no, there's the Alliance,
yes, yes. Now you see this doorway here and the steps? Well that threw
open and there was a gate and wed take my aunt down. They built a
ramp, a ramp (garbled) stairs.
K: (garbled) Upstairs?
B: Built a ramp so we could run her chair up there finally. They saw
her sitting out here waiting, you know. You know she could hear through
the open windows. And so they built a ramp and we used to run her up
in. But here's where the public went in ... in here. That was the box
office and gate.
B: And they paid to get in.
K: But that was to get into the temple?
B: And to get into the dances too.
B: Everything that went on there. (Was it for specific events you had
to pay or an entrance fee? See Harry Wonsey.)
K: Do you remember how much it used to cost to get in?
B: 15 cents to the dances.
B: A couple I think were a quarter ... from eight to twelve ... and at
that time very good music. Whatever they could obtain. Very very
interesting. (garbled) nice music. Now over at Green Pond, you know,
the little pond on the way to Millers, we had a lovely bath house and,
uh, everything. And the children tore it apart. They even tore the
grand piano apart in the recreation room.
K: What children?
B: Oh, the (garbled) who grew up here after I had gone away.
K: Mmm ... so you didn't swim in this lake?
B: My father did. And his father before him. But I never did. They
had stopped it by then. (The lake was closed for swimming much earlier
than I realized. Find exact date.)
K: His father before him? He must have been here just when Lake
Pleasant started then?
B: Yes, grandfather Conant was here from the beginning. And he came up
from Florida every summer. They had ... Bert Streeter was a great
promoter and he was very extrovert and loved everybody. And he promoted
a caravan before they had ...
K: The streetcar?
B: No, before they had campers and things he promoted a caravan that
stopped at hotels. And every year he'd take down about 50 people in a
long line to the Lake Helen in Florida. And some of the people were
very old. Judge Budington and his wife were in their 90s, but they went
just the same in the Ford cars. And he claimed that it prolonged their
life, that they escaped the hard winters and enjoyed themselves and were
all friendly together. They went to dances just the same. No matter
how old they were they danced and I really think some of our old people
there during these years were helped by the dancing. It kept their
circulation going. And so ... and Judge Budington's wife, his second
wife, was in her early 90s. And she had what they called a second voice
and it was a lovely soprano and he had a portable organ and evenings
when the moonlight was nice, he'd bring the organ out on the Bluff and
start a sing along, you know. And she'd start off ... and she'd start
the tune ... carry the first verse ... and we'd all come in on the
chorus. It really was nice, you know.
K: What do you mean, second voice?
B: Well, she had lost her first singing voice with old age. And by
some ... I don't know how ... but she regained it. It was even more
beautiful than she had at first. She had been a singer choir, choir
singer, and he was so proud of her.
K: Oh, it sounds so beautiful.
B: It was and she had little tight curls with a bow on each side, come
down, you know, three curls each side of her face. And he'd dress her
up. And, oh, it was sweet.
K: They were in their 90s?
B: They were in their 90s when I left here. I don't know how long they
lived after that, but ... So, Bert Streeter took them down to Lake
Helen. And Lake Helen was a great deal like this. And many of the
couples had a little cottage there also. So they went between the two
lakes and that was a spiritualist camp ... still is in Florida. This is
just one of our ... apparently the meeting came out and had the ... on,
it was somebody's birthday, I don't know. We used do that too ... after
a birthday party everyone had their pictures taken.
K: Oh, this is nice because it really shows me the different ages of
K: Now when was this? That there were so many children?
B: Well, apparently it was during the time I was not here. Let me see
if I can recognize anybody. I can't in this light, that's for sure.
But you can tell from the clothing about what period of time it would
have been. It was in the early 1900s.
B: Now in my 10th year there was one other child here. And we spent our
summers practically together all the time. Ruth, she and I were
together and then shortly after that apparently they started coming in.
I was the only child born there. Now this was a typical group when I
was growing up. (Follow up what a typical group was like.)
K: Oh, wow.
B: Now there's Mrs. (garbled) stance is the same. And this is Mary
Lyman. Mary Lyman lived where Imans garage is now ... at the end of
this street. She lived there. She had a big porch and on the night ...
dance night ... my mother and I used to go and sit there sometimes and
listen to the music. Of course, it kept everybody up til midnight. (too
soft to interpret) She had a face like an eagle, didn't she?
K: Who was she?
B: She was one of the treasurers of the Association. These were the
Lyceum teachers. That's why they had this picture taken. They taught
K: The Lyceum must have been pretty big then?
B: It was. It was.
K: It wasn't just children, was it?
B: No, older people could go to. And this was the old woman (garbled)
Sarah. Sarah was extremely bright. She had quite a history. She was
well educated in her youth. Belonged to a wealthy Boston family and she
was very vain and she spent every penny she could get hold of on
herself. And on clothing. And she was engaged to be married. Very
much in love. And they quarreled bitterly about her extravagances. He
said he could support her and so forth and she sent him away. Well, a
good many years were gone by. She never married. But by the time she
struck Lake Pleasant she'd gotten all over her vanity. And she almost
never ... now I know this for a fact ... she almost never changed her
clothes but added to them. She'd have six or eight skirts and blouses
and sweaters and a coat. And heavens knows what on as the seasons
changed. But she never undressed and she said she had done it as
penance for having been so vain.
K: You mean she wasn't crazy? She was doing it for ...
B: She wasn't crazy. She was doing it purposely and she said she'd
never make herself attractive again. And she knew she had ruined her
K: What ever happened to her?
B: I don't know what happened to him, but with all this peculiarity
and, you know, she smelt like a nutmeg she was so old by the time I knew
her and her clothing was so old it had that spicy smell. She would walk
to Montague with a market basket on her arm. Load up at the library as
many books as she could get in the basket, walk back while she was in
her late 70s, if not 80s by this time. And go back within a day or so
for another load having read them all by firelight. I got a surprise
dismissal from school one day down there and that teacher kept me over
while the others left and, of course, I came by trolley and the trolley
had gone. I had to walk home. Was in the spring. Oh, it might have
been the first week in June, last week in May. There were small
wildflowers out. And I got a quarter of a way home and I saw Sarah.
Well, I don't know, I must have been about 12, around in there, and a
child of that age, you know, a woman that old looking and smelling that
way had no attraction for me. In fact, I was afraid of her. So I
turned around and started back towards Montague. I saw her coming and
she got caught up with me and she said, Werent you headed the other
way? I said, I forgot something. And she said, Well you wait till
I get my books and I will walk home with you. Well, now, I felt I was
fairly caught so I waited and do you know it was the most interesting
walk of my life. She knew every herb, every flower, every tree, every
bird and was very very pleasant and very nice and my attitude, of
course, changed after that and my mother knew her very well and liked
her because of her mind. Mother was Aries, a head sign, and she knew
her quite well. Well enough to call her Sarah. Eva and mother went to
go. Sarah had a dream. She wanted violets around her house but she was
too old to plant them and she had no money to speak of. She had a
little pension from something she had done in her youth. I don't
remember what, but she used to talk to mother about it and say, Someday
I'm going to have violets around this house. Mother went to a meeting
at the temple many years later and it was Mr. Russell. And he said,
I'm calling Eva. And mother didn't say anything. She thought, well,
there must be more than one Eva. Big crowd. But he said, No Eva? So
finally she put her hand up. He said, Yes, you. He says, Sarah
wants you to know she has her violets.
K: And he hadn't known Sarah at all?
B: No, good Lord. She'd been dead I dont know how many years.
K: And he was here ... what 1940s?
B: Mmm. So mother was real pleased with that. That is what we call a
message with some meaning in it. And this was Mrs. Adams, not my Mrs.
Adams, another one. This lady back here. And as you can see, she has a
very stern face. And she was very stern and critical and sharp tongued,
oh my. And they named Adams Street for her family. Temple Hill is
Adams Street. And everybody, every occasion, she gave the edge of her
tongue to. Awful hard to please.
K: Were a lot of people who came here just sort of interesting people?
B: Well, they were as I said people. Oh, and this is Auntie Wheeler.
This old lady here is Auntie Wheeler. Now she was an Eastern Star
member and she had a pillow case on her couch. I never could ...
(conversation about motto "Dare to do and be silent on her pillow) and
she was an old dear but she did something to me I will never forget or
forgive her for, I guess. I had a date. And this was when I was about
14. I had a date with a man considerably older than myself who I was
deeply in love with. And my mother didn't know it. She sent me to
Turners on some errands and one of them was coffee. Now you know how
coffee smells, but on the way from my house to Auntie Wheelers, she
lived right up there, the house next to Shattucks. On the road there a
spider bit me and my palm was swelling. I dont know how it happened,
but my palm was swelling. Auntie Wheeler saw it and she said, You come
with me. I couldn't stop her. She dragged me into the kitchen and
shoved my hand into a pan of Lysol. And the reek of that Lysol I could
not get rid of between here and Turners. But I kept my date. I was
furious with her. How do you remember things like that?
K: Oh, that's great.
B: Bless her old heart.
K: Did it work?
B: Oh, yes, draw the venom out. But I had the coffee too and between
the coffee and the Lysol I had a very unhappy hour I tell you. Well, if
I took the time I'd probably know everyone there. This is Mrs.
Finlayson over on your street when she was just a young girl. She
seldom changed. She looked just about the same.
K: Is she dead now?
B: No, she's up there now. Lives alone in that cottage back of Springs
... that other Springs, the young Springs.
K: Do you think I could talk with her too?
B: You might.
K: I'm trying to figure out which is the cottage.
B: Well, do you know where ... is it Dowd does that connect? Do you
know anybody along that street? She lives next to the Dowds.
K: Now this ... isn't ... this is Turner Street?
B: Turner Street. Well, let's see ... the corner house on Turner
Street on this side of the street is Rusty Kennedys. Who lives there
now? The two young men live there now downstairs.
K: Oh, that's Elliot's house. Yes, sure.
B: Yes. there's Elliot. Then there's the brown house which is
K: I don't know but ...
B: And an empty yard. And then the Finlayson house. It's the third
K: Oh, ok. Maybe I'll go door rapping and see.
B: (garbled) because she's about she's in her 80s, middle 80s, if not
more. And that was her father and mother. Adopted ... they adopted
K: Now how old would you have been when this picture was taken?
B: Well, Rita was older than I by perhaps five years ... no 10 years.
So if she ... now you know young girls looked old then and dressed old
and everything. I don't think she was more than 18 there. So I was
quite a bit younger than that. I'm 75 now, so I'm sure I wasn't that
old. That's Ida Tarbell. She was a medium. A good deal like Miss
Hughes. In manner very sweet and very soft voiced and perfectly.
Another proper Bostonian.
K: Was she a trance medium? Or ...?
B: I think she was, yes. Ida was a trance medium.
K: I heard that most of the cottages here had Indian names.
B: Mrs. Guillford's house up near the fire station was called Redfern.
That was her guide, Redfern. How much of a medium she was or practiced
I don't know. The house we're in was called Woolford's Roost.
Woolfurts ... woolfurts, now Woolfurt must have been a ... well it's a
name I never heard of. I don't know if it was a guide or not. Whether
Nelly had (garbled) I believe we had a Redcloud.
K: So people often then just named their cottages after their guides?
B: After their guides, yes. Oh, there's Jane Dudley. That little
woman there. Lived where Waldron lives now. And she was the prettiest
little thing. Compact, you know, as a tomato and tight curly hair that
was just like a sheep's hair. The curls were so tight ... reddish grey
and very proper. And one night we all got in on it. She went to
meeting. Was Halloween, come to think of it, or the night before. It
was Halloween and idly with nothing else to do we said, Let's scare
Jenny. So my aunt and I and two or three other young people that lived
here then, the Hook girls, Rachael and her sister, took a pair of mens
overalls with a bib, you know, and stuffed it. Put them in rubber boots
... put his legs in rubber boots, put a red shirt on him and a big straw
hat. And her porch had vines so it was a bit shady after dark and we
laid him out half sitting on the chaise lounge of her porch, not where
she'd see him immediately when she came up the steps, but where when she
put her key in the door she'd see him and we all hid.
END OF TAPE ONE: SIDE TWO
TAPE THREE: SIDE ONE
B: (garbled) went to her door very confidently and all of a sudden she
saw it and she came backward right down the steps and out into the
K: Oh, no.
N: And ran next door. And the Savages lived there then I think. Yes,
and she roused them. Got them to go over with her. And we were dying
back of the trees, you know, we were just doubled up and, of course, the
husband saw what it was as soon as he got near the chair, you know.
Somebodys been playing a joke on you. What? she says, I could have
died of heart failure. Theres nothing funny about it. And by that
time we just broke out. We couldn't take it any longer, you know. We
had to go over and apologize. Yes, oh dear. But it was funny. to see
her. She was so prompt and so quick. She came right down those steps
backward, you know, without hesitation. Right backwards. She didn't
linger. She just came right back. Well, so my aunt and I took the man
home. Put him on the couch in the living room and the real joke was on
us because neither one of us could go to sleep upstairs with that down
in the front room. We had to go down and take it apart. We were afraid
K: Oh, no.
B: And of course we had shiverees. You know what those are? We had
several of those.
B: Mmm. Well, when somebody gets married and comes back to the house
you let them get in and get to bed and then you have dishpans and horns
... all kinds of noisemakers, you know, surround the house and set up an
awful clatter. And they had to come down and invite you in and feed
you. Or theyre not good sports. This is a lady with a history. She
was my aunts maid. (Mrs. B's account of her history follows on the
tape.) Oh, this is the Scalpers. You know that ... that's the hill
coming down from the post office.
K: Now did that used to be a hotel?
B: No, no.
K: That was always the Scalpers?
K: Oh, the other point I wanted to ask you about. I think in one of
the newspaper articles it said that what's now the riding stable used to
be a printing shop or ...
B: Yes, but that's quite recently someone set up a printing plant
there, but they failed out.
K: Oh, that wasn't for the Wildwood Messenger? Or ...?
B: No, no. The National Spiritual Alliance had a big print shop
K: Oh, so that's where the newspapers were printed?
B: Only one, but I don't remember what one. I doubt ... no that's not
true. No, they were published and stopped publishing years before that
went in. He printed that Alliance bulletin ... this little thing. That
was Judge Thompson who started that building and that Alliance. He
quarreled with the foundation about the other one and started his own as
a rival temple. That's why he built that place. And his wife ... he
married her late in life. She was in her late 60s and she was the widow
of the sewing ... Singer Sewing Machine, New Home Sewing Machine Company
in Orange. And where the Eastern Star home is now was their home. That
great big brick house there now. And Judge Thompson ... well to begin
with ... Mrs. Wheeler was of the old school. Taught that no matter how
much money a woman had she must learn a know how. To keep the home in
order to tell the servants. So she was very poor for a long time and
helped her husband start the business and become rich. But even after
they were wealthy she never could seem to stop being a housewife and so
she kept right on and she'd go to the door with a starched white apron
on and people would think she was one of the maids, you know. But she
was that type. Good deal like Jane Dudley, prim and proper with tight
curls. And Judge Thompson met her. I think he was soliciting money for
one of his organizations and he didn't fall in love with her but what he
said was ... he told others that he married her to help her spend her
money, that she didn't know how to enjoy it. So they married and they,
you know ... no, I think the house is gone. It's gone, torn. It was
near the temple up here on this side. It's torn down. They had a
summer home here and she was very interested in the National Alliance
... but the National Society ... but he quarreled with it and had her
money, so he built that place. But what was interesting about their
relationship was that he bought her all kinds of frivolous clothes.
Dolled her up to kill and got her a sun shade. Bought her a car, a big
car. I don't know what make. Open, and he'd have her sit in the back
seat, you know, and he hired a chauffeur and they'd drive her around
everywhere, you know, and she'd just sit there with that little
parasol. Oh, I must tell you ... where is Minnie? No, I wonder if
she's in one of the others (to soft to understand ) well, Lyndie Rice.
There's our Lyceum. There's the little children who came to the Lyceum
in later years.
K: Is this like 1920? No, earlier?
B: It's earlier. But I want to tell you about Lyndie Rice. Lyndie
Rice and her husband built the house you're living in. And after he
built the home. That was it. He wouldn't let Lyndie out. He never
bought her anything. She had to make her clothing out of flour bags and
whatnot and he would walk from that house to the poor farm to get his
skim milk. He wouldn't get whole milk. He got skim milk and they lived
on crackers and milk. And they looked it. Well, they both had skim
milk complexions, you know, and he was real hard with her (garbled).
Well, I came back here the summer after he died to visit my grandmother
and I saw this woman going into the temple and I said to grandmother,
Do you know that woman and she said, Why, yes. That's Lyndie Rice.
I said, What? And I ran up the stairs, went in and sat where I could
look at her. She was dressed to the nines let me tell you, covered with
bracelets and rings and pearls and heaven knows what all. And she was
having the time of her life. And the children who were here at that
time all were told if they wanted a lollipop or a cookie to stop at
Lyndie's and she kept a big glass jar full of candy for them ... and
cookies and we were all so tickled for her. She burst out like a
sunflower after he died.
K: How old was she then?
B: Oh, she must have been 60.
K: So, so he built that house, but who lived there after him?
B: Ah, people by the name of ... surely it will come to me. He was one
with Charley Bickford in the band. He was a band player, coronet
player. His wife Nellie played the piano at the dances. Colombo was
their name. And they moved. They only rented that. Then they moved
down to where that house is now when you go down the back road and just
the house near the Scalpers. They moved there. Oh, what was their
K: I was more interested in who they were.
B: But they were nice people. When recently Rosemary Madden and her
family lived there and she moved to Montague and she's the second house
down from the church on the ...
K: Now who's Rosemary Madden?
B: Rosemary Madden is a very wonderful woman. She is now the guidance
counselor at the Turners Falls High School. She had seven children and
she's been a remarkable mother. She's kept them all clothed when there
was depression and trouble and everything else. And now she's counselor
and you couldn't have a better one. And they were the last people
except these that were in it this last time now.
K: Oh, that was Lona's son. I can't remember the last name. Lona
B: She lives now in what used to be ...
K: The garage?
B: The garage, yes.
K: I just can't remember.
B: So, those are the only people I know. It hasn't been a too unhappy
house except for poor Lyndie and that was so many years ago. I guess
it's worn out now.
K: Did they have a name for the house?
B: No. I dont remember that they did.
K: I didn't realize the house was that old ... turn of the century?
B: It's had quite a bit of remodeling since, of course. Each person
came in did something to it to change it.
K: Was it small to begin with?
B: Fairly. Oh yes. The porch has been added and the back room off the
kitchen has been added. Yes, it was just a little up and down when
people who bought out brought them around as they all do. Now this is
one of the programs of the lake.
K: Oh, wow. Oh, this is wonderful.
B: Mmm. Thats got a lot in it.
K: Oh, I'd really like to xerox this. (conversation about xeroxing)
Oh, here's the press on which the Spiritual Alliance weekly is printed.
B: Oh. Oh, then. Oh, well then, that was another ... yes, he did
print his own paper. Yup that was in the basement of the now.
K: Oh, this is wonderful. There are ads. Alfred H. Terry lecturer
healer and psychic. From August 8th to 18th. Oh, this is really
B: How are you going to handle this material? (conversation about the
project) Oh I didn't know I had this. This is Doctor Mason, a very fine
doctor from Springfield. This was his wife, Patty. When I was 12
years old we moved next door to Doctor Mason over here on the railroad
bank. Now at that time he was stone blind, had been for a good many
years. He drank himself blind because his wife ran away with another
man and he went to live with his brother. And his brothers wife he
found out to his horror, never changed his bed and fed him moldy food.
He found out about the bed by tying a knot in the sheet when he got
suspicious and it never disappeared. Now here's the miracle. This man,
he was a young and thriving and hearty well to do doctor out in the
middle west. During a plague like the flu, one of his patients lost her
husband and her son the same week of the flu. Doctor Mason had done
everything he could for her. She had nothing. Little enough (garbled)
and lived in a shack. He said, You have nothing now, but he said,
I'm going to bury your husband and your son for you. (too soft) and she
said, Doctor Mason, if ever I can return the favor you have only to let
me know. Eighteen years later she got this post note scrawled, For
God's sake, Emma, come and get me. She packed her little satchel from
Springfield and she went and picked him up in Hartford and there he
was. She said, You know I couldn't believe my eyes. That I could do
something for him. He had everything in the world when I knew him,
money, position, a wife, everything fine. Here he is a broken blind old
man. Well she had no money. The state paid her 8 dollars a week to
take care of him and in that day and age that was sufficient if they had
a home. Well, now Emmas brother ... my Ruth's father bought them the
house and gave them a home and so she took care of him until he died and
she was only about four foot two. I don't think she weighed more than
85 pounds and she was the brightest cutest little thing you ever saw.
She, too, had curly hair. There was a type of woman at that time who
had that tight curly hair cut short like a man's. Miss Adams had it
too, another woman who lived here. She was a Civil War nurse. Well, I
thought that was remarkable when you speak of destiny and a pattern.
K: That's amazing.
B: See and they were very happy. I guess Emma must have been ... she
was in her late 60s when she picked him up and he was around there and
he told her all the things he had noticed. That after he had been with
his brother awhile ... I guess they neglected him in other ways, you
know, roughed him from time to time and so forth. And so he was so
deliriously happy to be with Emma to have good food and a clean bed and
to be respected again. And, oh, she treated him beautifully and so he
used to be sitting on the porch when I'd come out from school for home.
We lived next door and he had ... Emma kept a ... he had a saddle in his
chair and Emma kept peanuts there cause he loved peanuts. And so ...
and he always focused as though he could see. He never referred to his
troubles at all. Hed say, You're looking good today Dot. And he'd
say, You notice the sunshine? Things like that, you know. Now, you
see, he 1897 ... I was born in 98, so he was just turning grey there.
K: Oh, he's really attractive.
B: Oh, he was. He was, believe me. Then I would stop by his chair and
talk with him. I was very fond of him. He had a cane. He never used a
cane around the house. He knew his way around the house. I'd say,
What do you do that for Doctor Mason? He would run his cane on this
side of the chair around his feet to this side. And it puzzled me as a
child. What do you do that for? He said, Well, Dorothy, theres
just one thing I'm still afraid of. I said, What's that? And he
said, Snakes. And so he said, I just keep the cane moving here in
K: Who's this woman? She looks very distinguished.
B: This one? Mmm. Now wait a minute. Point her out again. I can't
K: This one in the chair.
B: Oh, that one. She must have been a visiting potentate. I don't
know. Yes, she's got a feather in her hair.
K: How about the child on the back?
B: Oh, that's Ray Boyden. He grew up to be a dentist. And he was a
Scalper. If he's alive he's still there at the Scalpers every summer.
K: You mean Scalpers come back every summer?
B: Mmm. There's only a few ... oh four or five of them alive, I
guess. He was there a few summers back I remember.
K: I've been wondering like ... whether I can go and talk to the
Scalpers? Is it like ... strictly off limits for women? Do you know?
B: Well, it's really a mans ... I've never been. (garbled) They had a
woman's day. For women one day a season and the wives and mothers and
daughters were allowed in while they were a flourishing concern, but at
the present time I think there's only one man there taking care of it.
It's gone downhill so that, I guess, that he'd enjoy talking to you.
He's probably got a lot of memorabilia I'm sure. Oh, yes. I know he
K: Ray Boyden?
B: No, no, no. No, I don't know who's there now.
K: Oh, it's just one man who lives there?
B: Ray. Yah, he grew up to be a dentist in Springfield. I didn't know
that was there. Apparently he was playing in the woods.
K: Maybe. I'll dare stop by. I've always been so intimidated.
B: Well, there's Sarah Williams again. Oh they've had a seance.
They've had a circle. I imagine being in the center that was the
visiting medium. I don't know. Oh, that's Mrs. Barnes.
K: Now who is Mrs. Barnes?
B: The old lady Barnes. Well, there's a history about her. She lived
in the house on the corner here that burned down a great many years
ago. She was the daughter ... the mother of Mr. Blume. Mr. Blume was
one of the officials of the group up here, middle 1900s, of our sides
temple. One of the officials in the Association and the speaker. Now I
don't know if he had any psychic gifts but he could speak on the
philosophy on Sundays and (too soft) and his mother went blind (too
soft) but there was a great deal of rumor that they weren't kind to
her. How unjust that was ... (too soft) And one morning she was found
in the lake, on the edge of the lake, with her face and head in it. Her
head was all tied up in a shawl. And she had a flashlight and well she
was stone blind and none of us could understand why she would have a
flashlight even if she fell in the water. How come her head was wrapped
up in the shawl? And she had a flashlight? Nothing was ever done about
it, but he was quite a big (garbled) and he said she had wandered out of
the house, you know, apparently unable to sleep and fallen down the
bank. So I don't know. That's Grandma Williams over there.
K: Oh, one thing I've been wanting to ask you about is the Hermit Fry
Swan. Was he ... when you were here?
B: Hermit Swan? We didn't have any hermit that I know of.
K: Its in here. If I can find the time.
B: There was a hermit over on the road to Montague.
K: This was ... he lived out on the Montague Plains.
B: Yes, toward Montague.
K: And he had worked for Samuel Pratt. Did you know him at all? It's
sort of hard to from this article tell.
B: No. I don't know anything about him.
K: It's really hard to tell from this article what time it was that he
was around. But it says that he lived at this place called Five
Points. It was where five roads came together out on the Montague
B: No I didn't even hear of (garbled) Five Points.
K: Must have been later.
B: We had a ... oh, boy. How you remember things, you know. When the
railroad was very flourishing and we had 10 or 15 trains a day, if not
more, there had to be a guard crossing, had to be a guard there at the
crossing. Where we now cross. You go right out onto 63. Well, there
was a little house there. His first name was Freddie. Well, at any
rate, he was the guard there at the crossing. He had to wave the red
flag and so forth. And he had a wife. They lived in a place about the
size of this half room here, just a little shack and he was quite an
imbiber. He had a pal used to come over and play poker with him.
(garbled) And he kept losing, losing, losing to this man. Got madder
and madder. And the man got madder and madder cause he couldn't collect
anything. So, one night the man said, You aint got nothing left to
bet. And he says Yes I have. He said, What have you got? He says,
I got my old woman. Ok, he says, I'll bet you a hundred pounds of
K: Oh, no.
B: Lost again. And the wife went with the other man and lived with him
for years. In perfect happiness as far as we could tell. Yep, yep, Ben
Tildon. Ben Tildon.
K: To think he'd put his wife up for a hundred pounds of potatoes.
B: Yes, yes.
K: That's disgusting.
B: Well, he says, You can eat the potatoes.
B: Nobody said anything about it.
K: Oh, boy.
B: Old Ben Tildon. He wore a straw hat summer and winter.
END OF TAPE TWO: SIDE ONE
MRS. BEGG TAPE TWO SIDE TWO
B: And she'd get up in town meeting. No matter what the question was
and he'd say. Vote it down gentlemen. Vote it down.
K: What a nut?
B: I tell you we're a ...
K: There're a lot of characters.
B: Characters? I should say. This Madame Delon (too soft) I suppose I
K: Oh, do.
B: (too soft) she wore a wig and, of course, in those days (garbled) in
those days women didn't smoke, but she smoked a big black cigar. It
looked so incongruous in her mouth with that red wig she had a little
house opposite the car station. That long building there was a car
K: A car station?
B: Trolley cars. It was where we went to get our trolley cars and that
long section at the end was a restaurant of a sort where you could eat
and get meals. And this is a ... I don't think many people have one of
these ... this is our great May Pepper Vanderbilt, the very finest
medium that ever came here and was probably ever anywhere.
K: Oh, tell me about her.
B: May Pepper Vanderbilt was very well to do, but she had this gift and
this is Bright Eyes, her control, the little Indian girl. When she was
traveling with her husband she went through the reservations out west
before she became a public medium and she saw the starvation and
privation and everything else there and it upset her awfully and she
adopted this little Indian girl and took her home with her and she only
lived a few months. We never knew, May never knew, whether it was
because she was in a house and was accustomed to running free and so she
couldn't take or whatever, but she died. But she was very grateful to
May. She said if it was possible to come back she would be her guide
and she did come back. Every meeting opened with Bright Eyes, her young
voice and her cute little broken English, and she was the guide that
what we call controlled May Pepper's meetings and certain circles on the
K: Does that mean that she was a trance medium?
B: Yes. Yes, May Pepper was a trance medium and she was absolutely
astounding from the time she got up from her chair back of the podium
until 11 o'clock at night. She never stopped. She never rested. She
went back and forth on that platform from one end to the other and she
had names, dates, figures. Names of relatives way back, full three
names never just Mary, you know, but itd be the whole three names. I
was there one night and I saw (muffled) she called a man in the front of
the audience and she said, to the best of my recollection, she said,
Sir are you so and so and so and so? He said, Yes. And she said,
Do you have the gall to come here tonight when you haven't spoken to
your own brother for 30 years? His face was a sight flushed, you know,
angry. And she said, You're not leaving this hall until youve shaken
hands with your brother. Hes in the back of the hall. Did you know
it? You could see he was stunned. He didn't know his brother was
there. So, she said, Come on, I don't want any back talk. Back you go
(muffled) ... went to the back of the hall and shook hands with a man.
Shed never seen either one of them before in her life. Now, she
said, you can come back and sit down and I'll give you your message.
K: Thats amazing.
B: Oh, she did things like that. There was a young Italian at a
meeting one night and she called his full name (muffled) and she said,
Sir, you are very anxious, aren't you? He said, Yes. She said,
You want to know how your brother died, don't you? He said, I do,
and he stood up. She said, Well, I'm glad to tell you it was not a
suicide. He was murdered. This young Italian (garbled) he shot up in
the air, you know, and he ran right to the platform and people didn't do
that. He ran right to the platform, put both hands up on it, and he
said, Tell me. Tell me. Tell me. And she told him the date, the man
that did it, how it was done, the whole thing and he kept blessing her
and blessing her and weeping and, oh, the whole place was in an uproar.
He said, I've been so afraid it was suicide. So afraid for his soul.
K: Oh, because he was Catholic?
B: Yes. So, oh, she was a wonderful woman. She suffered extremely
from nervous headaches and her chauffeur would drive her around all
night long. It was the only was she could get any sleep in the back
seat. She'd be lying up. She had to get the oxygen, especially in the
summer. Of course, we didn't have oxygen tents then. This, of course,
is just a plain dress, but I wish you could have seen her big, you know,
and her favorite dress was a deep purple at the top and at the bottom of
the skirt and from the bottom of the skirt to the waist were shafts of
lavender. Pale pink over the entire dress was a silver mesh (garbled)
and a great bunch of grapes caught the skirt in swirls. Oh, what a
beautiful gown. Then she had a garnet ruby gown with black sequins. Of
course, in those days most of our mediums wore sequined gowns in the
evening. It was the thing to do and they did it.
K: Did people really dress up?
B: Oh, they dressed and you should have seen the Scalpers grand ball.
Wow. With all the millionaires we had there then.
K: Millionaires? Oh, tell me about it.
B: Well, Minnie Rutter was ... when I knew her well ... was only worth
20 million. When her brother died he left her his money and she was
well over 40 million and she lived in the house on the other side of the
grounds thats now got white clapboard, white shingles, and needs
painting next to ... what is their name, Renard? Or ... two old people
live there now ... Farnsworth.
K: I don't know names very well yet.
B: Well, at any rate, that was just one of her summer homes. She had a
home in the Adirondacks, a home in New York, got a home in Boston, but
she didn't travel abroad. She was a ... she was a Vermont Yankee and
she talked with all the colloquialisms, Says I to me, says I, and all
that. She had money and she led the grand march every year with her
son. And she was the proudest thing of all. She had ... she used to
... she had naturally auburn hair. It was very pretty, stout but
pretty. We didn't mind flesh in those days and I remember one night she
had a pale blue ice blue gown, very lovely with rouching and so forth,
and a shawl, something like this, of sequins of navy blue sequins, and
she had to compliment her hair. She carried a pomeranian under each
K: What's a pomeranian?
B: A pomeranian is a dog half the size of that newspaper.
K: Oh, no. Oh, no.
B: With auburn hair, now, you can imagine. And of course she held her
head up and she came down that hall with Fred. And he in cream white.
K: A dog under each arm. Oh, my goodness.
B: And although she had the money to do anything and everything she
wanted to, every chair in the place was covered with a blanket for the
dogs and she would brush her lap and she would say, I might as well be
one, you know, with hair all over you, you know, but she adored them.
She took us out to dinner at the Montague Inn and, of course, that was
the place to go then. And it's burned down since. And they had real
home cooking. Oh (too soft) and halfway through the meal she called the
waiter. She said, I'll have a half cup of string beans and a half a
cup of chopped meat. (too soft) She had a little bag that she put them
in. There, she said. I can't remember their names. It was like Ping
and Pong and I said, Is that all they eat? Oh, yes, she said.
They couldnt possibly eat more than a quarter of a cup. So, oh, she
loved them. And then I had a very sad visit from her on the farm when
we were up in Bernardston. She called on me. I was going to buy her
house because she wouldn't live in it anymore. Well, her son was 32
years old. Her adored bachelor son. He worshipped her, too. I think,
myself, they were soul mates. I think that because I always think this
when a mother and son or a mother or a brother and sister or any one in
the family simply adores another member. Never married ... wont be
parted with them ... that there is a past connection like that ... that
is that they compliment one another. Well, she and Freddie were like
that. And on his thirty second birthday she gave him what, at that
time, was the most expensive racing car you could get. He went out in
it with Gladys Atwood. Gladys was one of our ... Gladys eventually
married Innis, the painter. Innis the painter ... after many years, but
she had loved Freddie and I think he loved her. He took her for a ride
and he went right into a telephone pole and it killed him. Broke his
neck. And when he came up ... she came up to the farm, she said,
Dorothy you have something I'd give all my money to have. I said,
What's that? She said, Your son. So then she never ... she
couldn't bear to live out in the house there, so she sold it. But we,
well, we bought it, yah, but it wasn't ours. We bought it with another
woman. And it turned out to be (muffled) Well, at any rate, so she did
a lot for the lake and she gave the bridge in Freddie's memory. A
memorial to Freddie. And she kept both houses. Both ends of it, full
of flowers and it was very lovely at one time.
K: That's this bridge.
B: Yah. And she kept the park well seeded and mowed and flowers there,
but. We had another man here. Harry Savage. He used to deliver ice
and do odd jobs, but on Sundays he put on an ice cream suit and an ice
cream hat, red neck tie, and he went and sat on Minnie's porch and
courted Minnie. He asked her to marry him every summer for a long time
and she wouldn't. And she says, We be good enough as we be. What do
you want to marry me for and spoil it all? So he finally got very
angry. He wasn't getting any younger. And he got real angry and they
had a spat and he went down the steps and he looked back at her and he
said, Minnie, I'm a going to marry the first woman I meet. Now this
will show you these things. I told you people had character in those
days. None of this permissive business. He met a girl on his way to
the post office and said, Will you marry me? She said, I will. And
Minnie gave them her home in the Adirondacks for their honeymoon. They
came back here after a little while. Harry put on his ice cream suit,
went over and sat with Minnie til she left here.
K: So, they were friends then?
B: Yes. But the marriage was not a happy one because, of course, he
had no interest in her at all. Poor child. She brought her sister to
live with them and they lived in the house that now on your street with
its back to the road has that little garden in it. I think they had a
pony or something. Last summer there're a lot (garbled)
K: House on our street with it's back to the road? On the other side
of the street from us?
B: Yah. It has a garden. I think they're got a scarecrow in it now.
That was the Savage home for years (garbled)
K: I'll have to look on the way back.
B: Yah. Oh, and so ... oh, we had loads more. What characters we had.
K: I don't want to tire you out.
B: It's all right dear. Now do you have any specific questions that I
K: Well, I have lots of questions. But, well, a lot of them are to do
with some of more recent things, too. You were talking about a book
published by the Theosophical Society when I talked to you before. It
was one about Christ's journeys through the East.
B: Oh. I don't know if they did publish it. Maybe they did dear. The
... it was taken from the Akashic record, the Aquarian. The Aquarian
Life of Jesus the Christ. Yes.
K: I was wondering, Miss Hughes had also recommended a couple of books
published by the theosophists and I haven't been able to get into Boston
yet. But I've been reading a book about the Secret Doctrine. Madame
Blavatsky. And I wondered if a lot of people who were spiritualists
here were also interested in the theosophical movement?
B: They didn't like it. The early founders didn't like it. They
thought, mistakenly, that if theosophy was true and rebirth was true,
then spiritualism couldn't be because there wouldn't be spirits in the
other world to come back through the mediums. They would have
K: Oh, but Miss Hughes said that ... then that she's sympathetic to the
theosophists. That there would be a time when they would be in, you
know, the Summerland I think they call it.
B: Yes, well of course they were.
K: And then they would come back and they would go back and forth.
B: They needn't have felt that way at all. But you know it's true in
any organization. The older people are very jealous of their privileges
and their positions and this theosophical group were more middle aged.
And even young. Now this Emma that took care of Doctor Mason, her
brother was the one that brought me up in it from the time I was 10
years old. He taught it in Springfield and he was a spiritualist but he
was a great theosophist and worked with the blind and so forth. So as
far as I know from the time I was aware of what was going on at the
temple they did not want the theosophists in it at all. Once in a great
while a lecturer would come, but they brought up that old saying that it
couldn't be true.
K: Were the people who were ... like you know ... the backbone of the
spiritualist organization ... do they consider spiritualism their
religion? Their philosophy? Or did they also believe in other
philosophies? Do you know? I was ...
B: They felt it was a religion.
K: The reason I ask that is because I was amazed to find out that the
first president of the the New England Spiritualist Campmeeting
Association was a Unitarian minister from Greenfield. And I went ...
like ... what do you know. A Unitarian.
B: Well. The Unitarian to this day is very broad minded. They ...
they will let you talk about reincarnation and so forth, you know.
That's why Julie and Dave go there.
K: Well, my father's a Unitarian minister so I ...
B: Oh, is he?
K: The shock factor was so great.
B: Well (garbled) has he delved into this field at all?
K: I don't think so. I haven't, you know, talked to him.
B: Of course it may be possible that that first president forsook his
faith or religion when he got interested in this. You can't tell, but I
have always felt and have said so to some of the older members years ago
that lived here that I felt it was a splendid reassurance and comfort,
but not a religion because ... We had a woman here. Her name was the
Baroness Debest. She was a German woman. She was a baroness and she
had a form of mediumship that really was remarkable. I saw her do it so
I know she did it. She painted in oils blindfolded. Her guide
painted. Now you see we had a great deal of phenomena in those days.
We don't have it anymore and the Baroness did a painting of Christ
excellent enough to be hung in the Vatican and it was there, Christ as
the Good Shepherd. She painted a beautiful figure of Christ thinking
the Association would be delighted to have it and they turned it down
and the woman who turned it down said to her, We don't want your Christ
in our church. This made some of us quite upset, because for myself,
if you don't have Christ you have nothing. I don't care what your faith
is. He is the foundation of all religion. Of all faith. Now for them
to say that, I ... it cooled me off quite a bit but a ...
K: You said there was a lot of phenomena then but there's not now. Why
so, you think?
B: I think because those that have a psychic gift are not dedicated.
They use it for money. They use it to promote their own egos and so
forth and they use it sporadically and periodically. These people that
we had lived it from the time they opened their eyes in the morning til
they went to bed at night. They were dedicated people and they were not
afraid of being ridiculed. They were not afraid of letting the
phenomena come through even though someone would say, Well, that's a
fake you know, and so forth. And I think if anyone would ... or it's
possible some groups do. Here at the lake we do not have, but it's
possible that they do yet have it if they would be dedicated. And, you
see, its a total surrender because phenomena is brought about mostly
through trance work. The medium doesn't know what's going on. Now this
implies an utter faith in whoevers taking you over and because you
might not come back you might be injured. We had a terrible scandal
here. You'll find it in the back files of the Greenfield Recorder. We
had someone from Greenfield come over here determined to expose a man
and his wife. I think their name was Redman, or, yes, Redman, and they
were giving phenomena. That is to say tables were moving around the
room, lights were coming on and off, trumpet were ... people were
speaking through the trumpets and the wife was pregnant. And this man
came over and in a dark circle after it had got going, well, he flashed
a huge flashlight on the medium. She lost her baby. It was not a
fake. It was true phenomena. He brought her back so quickly she had
this miscarriage which was all in the papers. You can look it up in the
Greenfield Recorder and ... I don't know what year. I was not here. I
was on the farm, so that would have been between 36 and thirty ... no,
that would have been in 38 or 39.
K: Yah, I'll see if I can.
B: See if you can find that. And, oh, it was a dreadful thing to do
because they were genuine.
K: Well, were most of the mediums trance mediums?
B: Most of them.
K: Most of them?
B: Very few of them worked as Mr. Russell does. That is know just what
is going on. Most of them are trance workers. Umm, what do you think
of him? I don't know what to say and I ... (I turned the tape recorder
off so she would feel free to speak) ... no matter what, but when he
gives you a reading and gives you names that were 30 years ... way back
and you have to reach for them he'd have to be delving awfully deep in
and in a public gathering and in a bright light and from a platform and
you're way back. I just don't see how he could accomplish it. (We had
been talking about the theory that mediums read the subconscious.) But
unhappily there are, as I said before, this field is very ripe for
charlatans. It's easy. There is a method by which message work can be
done so easily that a child could do it and this troubles me. I don't
K: Well, what do you mean by that?
B: Well, now in the ballot work. Well, I bring my ballots from home.
I dont take the paper and pencil they have there. I never did and I
still got the message, so I don't think he uses that method, but when
you use the paper and pads and pencils they have, you know, there's a
way of reading the imprint.
K: On the pad?
B: On the pad. Then there's another thing they do. They ... now let
me see how is this worked. You put your ballots up and they talk and
they pick up the first ballot and they talk about it. Then they open
it, glance at it briefly and put it back and say, No, I don't get
anything on that. Then he picks up the next ballot. Its got the
initials on the envelope. It would be B for me. And hed hold it, wave
it around, and say, You know I hear, I see, I feel, but he's reading
the first ballot, the one he put down, cause he read it, see, and I
won't recognize that message, but somebody in the hall will. Now I
dont know ... I hope he hasn't been a charlatan all his life. I knew
he's been a terrific liar. I caught him in a whopper and how he had the
nerve, you know, Kahlil Gibran.
B: Well, we were talking about him one day and he said, Oh, yes, I
have his volume his ...
K: The Prophet?
B: The Prophet by my bed. You know he died in my arms. I said, He
did? He said, Yes, he died in my arms. And, I'll never forget it,
he said, I was able to make him comfortable the last few hours of his
life. Now Gibran died in a hospital alone.
K: That's too bad.
B: Isn't it. He's a terrific liar. Needless liar, as though he didn't
will the truth from the lie.
K: Yah. (garbled) Well, you know Miss Hughes was saying that you could
be a great medium and you could be on a low ... fairly low level of
B: This is true. This is true. In fact, a lot of our phenomena came
from that type of medium. Delong who smoked a big black cigar and
drank, she was a phys ... what we hall a physical medium.
K: Now why do you think that was? That a lot of mediums were sort of
of questionable value?
B: Chemistry. Chemistry.
B: And vibratory complement. Now there's a story told about Jesus that
I like to speak of when this comes up. He and Peter and the group were
traveling and they stopped at an inn and there was a young minister
there preaching and they listened to him and it was a very good sermon.
Then they went upstairs to bed and during the,night they heard the same
man cursing, ribald, obscene, terrible, talking in the inn parlor with
the other men. And so Peter said to the lord, How can it be that such
pearls come from such a mouth? And Jesus said, Peter a lot of pure
water flows through rusty pipes.
K: Thats nice.
B: And so we have to feel that these types had in their composition,
their physical composition, the necessary images that could be used for
physical phenomena. It's the only way around it. We had an Alice ...
we had a not Alice Waterhouse. Alice Waterhouse, yes, we had an Alice
something else. Anyway, she was a very very coarse and obscene vulgar
and lived in a room half the size of this half. She lived in a house so
small it looked like a horse stall and she was dirty and terrible,
really objectionable in every way. And she had had a lover in her youth
(garbled) who was a violinist. And he died and Alice would pick up the
violin in certain moods and play beautifully and she didn't know one
note of music from the other. And shed say, Goodnight Harry. She
was such a fine medium. Cliber the policeman, you know, was it Millers
or Turners? I was walking by the lake one day about 15 years ...
END OF TAPE TWO SIDE TWO
TAPE THREE SIDE ONE
B: ...he asked me if I knew Alice. (garbled) Well, he said. You
know I came over here once to arrest her. Well she was doing what is
called fortune telling and thats illegal, so he put on his Sunday suit
and he came over and he knocked on her door and my closest recollection
of the conversation was something like she opened the door. She said,
What in the hell do you want with me you goddamned flatfoot? There he
was, no sign. Nothing to show that he was a policeman in any way. He
said, I want my fortune told. She said, The hell you do. You're not
going to get it out of me. And he kept on talking to her and finally
she let him in. And he said, What a place. He said, I could hardly
stay there. But he ... he said, So you know with all her cursing she
said to me, You got an envelope in you pocket He said, Yes. She
says, Come from Germany, didn't it? He said, Yes. She says, Your
daughter and your niece are coming over, ain't they? He said, Yes.
And she went on like that for a solid hour and he said, Believe me, I
wouldnt arrest her. But she was terrible.
K: Was that like? The public climate? That they could arrest people
for what they were doing like ...
B: If they charged for it, yes. If they charged a set fee.
K: Well then?
B: You could put a basket on a table near the door for love offerings
for anything people wanted to give to you for the evening, but if you
said $5 or $2 or whatever that was against the law.
K: Well, but how was Lake Pleasant viewed by people who, you know,
B: This was a ... this was an entrance fee at the Temple to a service.
You weren't paying a medium for fortunes.
K: I was just thinking that that would be sort of a hard ...
B: It is. It is.
K: framework ... framework from which to work from.
B: And as far as I know the law still holds.
K: But there're lots of palmists who charge fees, you know?
B: I know, there are and there're a lot of them that cross the palm
with silver too ... police ... so they don't disturb them.
K: Oh, I didn't realize that.
B: I am not positive of this statement. I am not sure the law still
holds, but it did when (muffled)
K: Wow. I had no idea. I thought that public acceptance was ...
B: No. I don't know whether the ministers used this means to
discourage their parishioners from coming.
K: I'll tell you one thing an old man in the nursing home once said to
me. He's from Greenfield and he said, Boy our parish priest used to
always tell us Don't go over to Lake Pleasant.
B: And do you know that they used to come in droves. The Catholic
women mostly came over up to 15 years ago. (muffled) Five or six
together. I suppose they thought there was safety in numbers. In fact,
the biggest clientele was Catholic. Now this is a strange thing. The
Catholic faith as far as I can see promotes the belief in life after
K: Heaven, yah?
B: Well heaven and communion with the saints and survival, let's say,
but they don't want their parishioners to get carried away with it so
they forbid it. We had a ... my mother knew a priest in Greenfield
years ago who was the (muffled) of the big church there in Greenfield.
And he told her of an experience he had had. He said that there was a
terrible night snowing and blowing and cold. And he had had his supper
and gone into his study and thank God he didn't have to go out that
night. And the doorbell rang and his housekeeper was way up in her
quarters, so he said, I'll go to the door. He went to the door and
there was a woman there, probably 60 years old, and very agitated and
very upset. And she said, Father you've got to come with me. My son
is dying. He's got to have absolution. So he said, Just a minute.
Got his coat and his shawl and his hat and flashlight and whatnot and he
went with her and she led him out of Greenfield, Down to The Meadows.
He'd liked to froze to death and she stopped by a shack. And he said,
Is your son in here? She said, Yes. Well he rapped on the door and
he got no answer. He banged on the door and he got no answer. He
looked in the window and he couldn't see a thing. Everything was dark
and he looked around to tell her. Well if it's your son you must have
the key. We've got to get in here. She was gone. He went home. He
couldn't get in and three times that night she came. And three times he
went out with her and the third time he got in. He took an axe with
him. And the man was dying and he said, Father, how did you know I was
dying? And he told him. And he said, Glory be to God. That's my
mother. She's been dead for 20 years.
K: Oh, that just gave me the chills.
B: Yes So he believed thoroughly. But, well, there's been other ...
now I had a neighbor in Greenfield who adopted a boy. She couldn't have
children and in her 50s she adopted a boy, very nice little boy, seven
or eight years old and a year later, oh, she was devoted to him ... a
year later her husband died of pneumonia. And Annie turned against the
child bitterly. She said, If it hadn't been for him I'd a spent all my
time with George. (garbled) I'm going to send him back. And I said,
Annie you can't do that. The child loves you now. And for all you
know he's your own from another life come back to you. Ah, she
said. Tell that to the priest. She went to the priest. And she told
him what she was going to do and she had the grace to came back to me
and tell me. She said, You know what father said? I said, What did
he say? He said, You better keep him. He might be your own. She
did. He grew up and was a great source of joy and comfort to her, but
she lost her head that week she ... (garbled) ... so some of them, but
they don't want to publish it. They don't want to have it known they
believe in these things.
K: Because of the times you think?
B: Well, because the organized church for a great many centuries,
especially the Catholic church, has wanted to hold the power over their
parishioners. And they feel ... remember, Jesus said, Know the truth
and the truth will set you free. You won't be bowed down to these
priests who tell you that you can't do this and can't do that, you
know. And so they held ... and in the Middle Ages, of course, (muffled)
by fear. I had a Catholic woman, very intelligent, come and tell me
that was the one thing that she felt badly about. That's that they
still governed by fear today.
K: Oh, tell me if you get tired because I don't want to keep you past
B: Oh, that's all right dear. I don't know when we can get together
again. (discussion of the project) See how close the houses were
together before the fire?
K: Oh, that's neat. Wow.
B: So you see why when one caught it was almost impossible to save the
K: Mrs. Shattuck said that this man was frying donuts and the fat
spilled over and ...
B: Yes. And he ran all the way across it before telling anyone.
K Oh, no. How come? Any idea?
B: He lost his head, I suppose. He panicked. You see the houses went
up. They couldn't go this way so they went up. But these were all tent
lots. He speaks of that in this paper.
K: Those wooden platforms?
B: Yes, and so they couldn't ...
K: You had to get along with your neighbors, I suppose. You're right
on top of them.
B: Oh, yes. But you know ... I was reading it (muffled)
K: Oh, what are you looking for?
B: The rules.
K: Oh, the rules? Yah.
B: Read that and you'll see why we were all such good neighbors.
K: Oh, yah. It was pretty ... pretty strict you know.
B: Yes, and nobody disturbed anybody else. Oh, it was considered
K: But people were friendly? They were close a lot of them?
B: Yes, yes. Of course we were not angels. There were backbiting
couples and there were ... there was a lot of gossip.
K: You know, why do you think the community ...? I remember I asked
you this before, but I'm still not set in my mind about it. Why do you
think things faded? I mean was it mainly the fire?
B: No. Oh, no. This was ... its heyday was long after the fire. No,
I think in my own mind that the founders ... the old people that began
the thing ... as they died off, their children sold their homes to
people who were nonbelievers. Now we still ... they still ring the bell
for a meeting but theres nobody here to go now. When that bell rang in
the old days these were the faithful and they all came to the meetings.
You wouldn't miss a meeting. My grandmother wouldn't think anymore of
missing a meeting. Then, you know, she wouldn't have company or
anything. If you were there you had to go with her. Well, now that was
the kind of faith that kept the thing together so the place was sold.
And by the way, here's the old inn. This is the one my grandfather ran,
my mother's father.
K: He was the proprietor of the hotel?
B: Yah, before I was born.
K: Mmm. That's huge.
B: And, mind you, the Boston Post coaches used to come up with four ...
four horses and deposit people here. I think I've got a picture of that
down at my home. (muffled)
K: Well, why weren't there faithful to replace the original faithful?
B: I don't know why these old people didn't see to it. But then, you
know, I think it was something like the way it is today. Young people
have always rebelled. They ... now it wasn't ... it wasn't until he was
really interested in moving here that my son got so fascinated by this
place and wants all the memorabilia and everything. The faith of the
fathers is seldom passed on to their children. They ... unless it's
forced like the Catholic church ... they don't want to conform. They've
got their own ideas of what's whats so. I think by selling off to
nonbelievers, and they in turn selling to anybody who would take it ...
now I don't say this and don't repeat it in a bitter or nasty way ...
but I feel that after WWI a lot of these cottages were bought up by the
Catholics because they were told that the only way to cleanse this place
and eradicate the spiritualists was to buy the homes and put us out. So
we have for a great many years a predominantly Catholic neighborhood.
Not that I have anything against them. Therere some very nice people,
nice friends. Good friends. Good neighbors, but it squashed the faith
just as the priests thought it would. Now, Clara Collamore was one of
the founders and one of the presidents and one of the secretaries and
treasurers ... for a great many years lived in the house that is now
ploughed out in an empty road there at the end of the street and the
place burned. Set fire by you know who. Clara was on the open trolley
car one day coming back from Greenfield many years ago and there were
two priests behind her and they were talking about the spiritual Lake
Pleasant because they knew their parishioners were coming over. And one
priest said to the other, Well fix that. We'll take over the place.
And theres a house on the corner, and he described Claras own house.
He says, That would make a fine parish house. He said, I'll buy that
one. Well, Clara was alone so she didn't turn around and make any fuss
and (muffled) then. And it was shortly after that they began buying up
(muffled) I think they just sort of, you know, what is it ... the
farmers have a way of seeding a field to get rid of a growth they dont
like with a stronger growth (muffled) ... so they absorbed us.
K: Well, how about sort of nationally? I mean, there're not a whole
lot of spiritualists now. There are some camps that are still open.
B: Some camps. I think Mt. Desert, Maine, is still open. Well, it's
possible that their children did follow and did keep the homes. I don't
know. I've never been there. That's what happened here. I remember
once sitting on my porch when I lived up the other house, the green
house there on the street. An old couple lived right across the street,
where the Eleys are now, sitting on their porch and I was on my porch
and they were discussing it. And the old man said to the old lady,
What do you suppose ever happened to this place? And she said that
... she said, They sold to nonbelievers. They ruined their own camp.
They should have kept it in the family and kept the houses for people
that believed. I dont see any other way for it to have gone down.
K: Well, how do you feel now? Here you were, you know, as a child like
in a close community and then you came back and, well, when you came
back, did you still have the feeling it was sort of a familial thing?
Or did you not feel that anymore?
B: No. I felt it was very familial, but I'll tell you, Kathleen, I got
into it so young, you know, I never questioned it. I was taken to these
wonderful people. I saw these wonderful mediums perform and heard it
and it was talked of at home and my fathers mother was a good medium
and my own mother was psychic and ...
K: Was your mother a trance medium?
B: No, no. She was just psychic. She caught things before they
happened and everything. She was very good at that. She never did any
public work at all and I ... I never questioned it. Never had occasion
to question it til my husband banged the table and said I couldn't come
back over here. But ... and the thing that in later years made me angry
about it was that I read that the head of the clan in Scotland cannot be
the head of the clan unless he can prove that hes a good psychic. They
called it fey, FEY, over there. Now why he was so against it I dont
know. He never told me.
K: Russells always talking about Scotland and are there ... is
spiritualism very big in Scotland too? Or is that just where hes from?
B: I have no idea. I think that there are ... well, I've heard the
term used ... oh she's fey, you know. People in Scotland don't pay
any attention to (muffled) I dont think mediumship has been practiced.
K: Is it exclusively American?
B: No, no. It was German too. Scandinavia. Denmark. Holland. But
this was the mother camp of the country. The mother camp of America.
But it began in New York state with the Fox sisters.
K: Right. I remember you telling me about them.
B: But ... but there wasnt any foundation, you know, like they have
here. They formed it, got a charter and everything. So it was the
K: Now I've heard this referred to as the oldest and largest.
B: Yes, it probably was.
K: In its day?
B: In it's day, yes. Because, as I say, it was terrific. It would
take you 15 minutes to cross the bridge when the meeting let out.
K: You know to hear you talk of this town I just keep on getting all
these images. I can't imagine what it must be? For you it must be like
a ghost town.
B: Well it is a ghost town, of course, it is, but I have a very vivid
imagination and although names escape me now I can remember the people
very well who lived in all these houses and remember little things about
them, you know, so I don't mind.
K: You have a wonderful way of just recreating it. It's really
B: Good. My son says he's going to sit me down with a tape recorder
every night until he's gotten every bit of it out of me.
K: Tell him I want to hear the tapes.
B: And Judy and David are always ... when I come out with something ...
they're always interested.
K: I think I should ...
INTERVIEW WITH MRS. BEGG: DECEMBER 4, 1973
K: Elmira Wheeler Tabor Thompson. Is she Auntie Wheeler?
K: Oh, they're two different people?
B; This woman was ... the (garbled) New Home Sewing Machine widow.
B: And she married Thompson.
K: Now he was one of the presidents?
B: He was the head of the Alliance.
K: Oh, the Alliance?
B: Over there, yes. He built that building.
K: Now I heard this story and I want to ask you whether you've heard it
and if you think there's any truth in it. What I was told was that she
became very ill and there was a rumor around that her husband had
poisoned her and when she got better, she said, No, there wasn't a bit
of truth in that. And then later on, I don't know if it was here or
wherever it was that she moved, her husband, Tabor Thompson, went to get
some whisky or something from the closet and instead he got cleaning
fluid. And he got it in his mouth and he spit it out. And after that
his health declined.
B: Yes, oh that's true, but of course there are rumors always, you
know, but they thought that (garbled) and they told the story that he
tried to kill himself.
K: That he did it deliberately? Oh, I see. But was there any rumor
around that she had had a hand in it? I heard, there was a rumor that
she had switched bottles.
B: I don't think so. She wasn't the type. If you could have seen
her. She was a little dumpy old Vermonter, you might say, farm woman.
And although she had married a man who grew very wealthy with his New
Home Sewing Machine and they lived in a mansion in Orange, before she
married Thompson, she never got over her old-fashioned farm habits and
she was utterly sincere and simple, you know. She wouldn't have done
it. But Thompson got into quite a scandal with a young Polish boy and
he got into a really bad one. And the Federal men came.
K: What kind of a scandal?
B: Well, they said they were lovers. A woman told that she had seen
them and he knew these men were coming and he drank the fluid.
K: Oh, dear.
B: So, we thought afterward there must be some proof of it or he
wouldn't have tried to do that.
K: How about the rumor that he had tried to poison her? Have you ever
B: I doubt it, no.
K: I just wondered ...
B: He was very happy with her because, of course, at their ages, you
see ... she was in her 70s when he married her and he had all this money
to do with just as he pleased by marrying her. And they were quite
compatible. He taught her how to spend the money. She never had
bought anything for herself or ... or ... she used to wear a little
while apron and try to do housework even with the servants. They
wouldn't ... she couldnt understand living in that style and he said it
was time she had some good of her money and he'd show her how to spend
it. And he did. He bought a car, open car and she'd sit in the back
seat with a little lace parasol over her head, you know, and ride around
with the chauffeur as was the chauffeur that said got too intimate. But
at any rate, he was always good to her. I doubt very much (muffled)
K: Yah, there're a couple of place names I've been wondering about.
One is the Highlands.
B: This is the Highlands.
K: This whole side of the lake?
B: This whole side of the lake is the Highlands.
K: Why do you think it was called the Highlands? Any idea?
B: Well, it's higher than the lowlands.
B: And the seat of the temple, of course. This is where the temple
was. The original.
K: Yah, the New England Spiritualist Campmeeting Association. And the
other one is the Bluff. Now I have been reading about houses that were
on the Bluff and I was thinking ... and I was thinking of the Bluff as
being on the other side of the railroad tracks.
B: No, it's this side. That's right where you go up the road from the
post office and turn, you know, and it's on this side, on this side of
the railroad tracks.
K: Is it? Let's see, I'm trying to think. You're going up from the
post office towards Rutter Memorial Park, right? Or you ...
B: If you want to you can go there. I'm thinking you come down past
the park, stop at the post office and then you make a turn and go up
K: Ok. So there are a couple of foundations and only one or two
B: That's right. Yes, that was the Bluff .
K: Oh, all right.
B: And it burned during the big fire. Those houses have been built
K: Let's see now, oh, and one thing I was surprised about. I thought
this land was still leased from the railroad, but I read some documents
that said there's a Lake Pleasant Association formed which bought the
land and there were shareholders. It's a ... I was really ...
B: This I'm not too sure about, dear. I don't know.
K: It's in the history.
B: We have always been told that it was leased from the railroad, not
B: And we have what they call quit claim deeds to our homes. We dont
have clear deeds.
K: I can't figure that out.
B: It was a 99 year lease and it's run out.
K: It's run out now?
B: Yes, it's run out. And what happens now I don't know.
K: Ok. Here it is. I'll read you what this says. It says ... that
history you were telling me about ... and it's written by , oh whats
B: Judge Budington.
K: Budington. Yah. It says In 1887 the Lake Pleasant Association
bought the campmeeting grove from the Fitchburg Railroad Company for
$15,000. And it goes on to tell ...
B: Campmeeting grove. That's the land down by the lake where the
boathouse was and that was the grove.
K: Oh, so it's not most of the land?
B: Down (garbled) yes that had the hotel and the fishhouse, the chowder
house and the boathouse and the band concert stand and it was a
semicircle there. That's what they bought, but not all of this. You
see, they used it as an amusement center before they had the temple.
Before they founded the religion here.
K: You see what I don't understand is that it also says in here ...
here it is "The New England Spiritualist Campmeeting Association carried
on meetings for 13 years, leasing the land of the railroad company.
This company had refused to renew the lease, hence it became necessary
to purchase the grounds." And then later on it says "In the course of
the year nearly all the cottagers had purchased their several lots."
And so I can't ...
B: I don't understand this legally, myself. I don't know. Because
even 40 years ago the deeds were quit claim deeds.
K: Yah? That's really interesting,
B: You'd have to find someone who has a legal understanding of it. I
don't know. Maybe Mr. Spring would know. The older Spring here if you
could get him to talk to you. He's kind of peculiar.
K: Which house is that?
B: Very quiet. Oh, the first one right up here. The first tall and
big house there. Just get him to explain that particular thing to you
because I really don't know dear.
K: Yah. I was just interested because I've always heard that it was,
you know ... then there're lots of people I've heard about and I was
sort of wondering if you know anything about them. Some of these are
way way back and I don't know how much you know. They would ... they'd
be talked of, but ... John Collier of England? Have you ever heard of
him? He was one of the first people to speak.
B: No. That was before my time.
K: And this is another woman before your time. I wonder if your
parents talked of her ... Maud E. Lord?
B: Maud Lord was the one I told you of ... the seance in New York that
my grandmother went to.
K: Oh, yah.
B: It was Maud Lord.
K: Oh, can you tell me that again because I don't have ...
B: Well, she was a tremendous materializing medium, that is the spirit
materialized and talked with you and there were perhaps, well,
grandmother said there were at least 15 of them there at the same time,
moving around in the room and they came to different people and talked
with them and in their own language. Some of them were Germans and some
French and English, of course, and that was the night that my
grandfather told her that he would take her to see Maud Lord and once
and for all disabuse her of the idea that there was anything in it. And
they got a great surprise because my grandmothers brother came, you
see, and called her Frank. He didnt materialize, she felt his hands on
her head and cheeks this way. He held her face that way and she could
feel the fingers. And what puzzled her was that they were straight and
he had been very badly crippled.
K: Arthritis or something?
B: Mmm. And that the thought went through her mind, this can't be
Eddie because his hands were crippled and this voice said, Theyre all
straight now Frank.
K: Wow. Now that was sort of what? What made your mother sort of ...?
B: My grandmother.
K: Your grandmother go into spiritualism ... that experience?
B: No. Grandmother went into it through her father, through Joseph
Laughfume, who was with the Fox sisters as I told you, remember? He ...
he was the one that supported them through their trials and troubles in
New York and, of course, that was her father, so she got interested ...
but my grandmother was never really a spiritualist. She was a Gemini
and Gemini people are skeptical. Youve got to prove it to them and
although she had many proofs, she had some really wonderful things, and
you couldnt explain them any other way, happened to her. Her
grandfather died in her home and thered been an upstairs bedroom. They
had a very narrow staircase and he had been a whittler and a maker doing
little odd jobs, you know, and he had a big box of nails, cigar box of
nails on the mantelpiece and hed asked her two or three times to take
them down and put them in the cupboard, but she hadnt gotten around to
it. And they brought the coffin downstairs and as they struck the foot
of the staircase, that box of nails went right off the shelf of the
mantelpiece and sailed across the room. Just as much as though he'd
said, Get out of here, you know. I'm going to attend to this.
K: Wow. Did someone see that? Or did ...
B: Yes. She was there in the room and saw it sail across.
K: She must have been horrified and (garbled) my goodness, yah? How
did your great-grandfather then get involved with the Fox sisters?
B: Well, he was ... he lived there in the ... New York ... I don't
remember what street and he heard them. They came in, you see, from the
... outside New York to lecture and to give seances and he heard them,
talked with them, met them after the meeting, got interested in them and
this was at the height of their power. And then, they got into all this
public trouble, but he liked them and he believed in them and he stood
up for them and he got the whole family interested in and they believed
in the sisters too, his wife, his friends and so forth, and he just
naturally stayed by them till the end and as I told you he buried them
in the family lot. They went from riches to nothing.
K: Wow. It seems like for a lot of the mediums it was very rocky.
B: It was. And in the old days mediums, like actresses, spent their
money as fast as it came in and now for the last 50 years actresses and
public people have invested their money and their old age isn't as bad
as it used to be, you see. But when you get out of favor with the
public, it's all over and they didn't know enough to provide for
themselves, just spent it on entertaining and gorgeous costumes and
everything, you know. They ... that doesn't happen today ... so the Fox
sisters just didn't have any money at the end.
K: Do you think there's been a real change in the mediums that were at
Lake Pleasant then and the mediums now?
B: Yes. I think that, I may have said before, that the mediums today,
a great many of them, will not live a dedicated life and therefore don't
have the power that we used to see. We don't have the
materializations. We don't have the ... what would be a concrete,
convincing experience. They will talk and tell you things, and so
forth, but when you see something happen you're more apt to realize it's
coming from another source, you know. And, as I said, these Holmes
brothers up in Vermont, right in the kitchen, old kitchen wooden chairs,
sat there in the lamplight and people from Europe, foreign potentates
and people from China with their robes ... everybody came. And it was a
terrific performance and some children ... I mean it couldn't possibly
... sat right there in those kitchen chairs and all this went on and
on. We don't have that today. They are reduced in power because their
motives I think are different. A great many of our very fine old-timers
just worked through the love offering system and didn't make a charge
for their work. And I think the mediums today more or less like to get
paid and in proportion, as you are rewarded for the physical side of
life, you are less rewarded from the spiritual side of life.
K: I wonder how many people there were then like Mrs. Shattucks mother
who were trance mediums?
B: Home mediums.
K: Yah, were ...
B: Oh, it was very common, very common. We had a great many home
mediums and, as I say, money was never spoken of, was never thought of.
Anything what they called, got for you, they were very willing to help
and, of course, the public mediums, those on platforms had to be paid
because they came from a distance. There was transportation. They had
to put up at the hotel. They had expenses. But even then I think that
it would have been better to stick with the love offering because those
that were worthy of it certainly would have gotten it. They did
spectacular work. They didn't need to demand a fee for it and I think
their power might have lasted longer and might have accomplished more.
It's one thing to see and hear and be interested. It's another to be
converted. And I think they would have made more conversions and the
faith might have lasted longer than it has as a public religion if it
had been more or less carried out on the ... or without money demanded,
because they would say, Well she gets $5 a head. There's 500 people
here. It's a pretty good racket. Well this is the way the world looks
K: So they doubted the sincerity?
B: They doubted the sincerity.
K: That's a hard thing to deal with. Do you know anything about Olga
the Child Medium?
B: Yes. We had her. I ... I saw her and I'm not too sure she was
genuine. I happened to sit where, at the side of the audience, where
Olga sat and I could see right up on the platform. You see, there was a
platform with staircases going up each side of it and a regular theater
curtain. But the curtain only came over the platform and the staircases
went up into the wings and now and then you could see people and I saw
Olga with her, with the woman that was promoting her, giggling and
talking and more or less acting kind of smart before she came out on the
stage and I didn't like it. She didn't do anything spectacular. She
was quite interesting to look at herself. She was very pretty, great
dark eyes and long dark hair and gotten up as you might say as the
public thought a young medium should be and an angel from heaven and all
that. But beyond the fact that she drew quite a crowd because she was a
young girl that wasn't...
K: How old was she?
B: Oh, I don't think she was more than 13.
B: But very very sophisticated, very (muffled) She was far from what
you would expect when you hear of a child medium as more or less of a
miracle, you know. A sacred thing for a child.
K: Mr. Russell started quite young didn't he?
B: Mr. Russell was an actor until into his 20s and then I don't know
where or how he began, but when he came here I think he was close to 30.
K: Yah. Oh, I've been reading about ... in the history they mention
having police here and that the lockup house was the least used building
at Lake Pleasant. And I was so surprised there would even be one here.
B: Well (garbled) had a lockup. We had dances, you see, and there
always had to be a policeman at the dance because young boys, same as
they do now, would bring in liquor and if they molested anybody they had
to be stopped and if they were really drunk they had to be put away for
the night and sobered up. We had to have a lockup.
K: Where was it?
B: You know, it was gone by the time I was noticing things. I don't
know where it was.
K: And since it was gone there's never been another one?
B: No. No, there's never been anything else. We did have policeman
come, but they came from Greenfield or Turners or just for the dance
nights so ...
K: I was surprised to hear that, yah.
B: Well, it was the old demon rum, that's all. It wasn't the people
K: Yah. Oh ... I ... there was a mention in the history about Indian
ceremonies happening here, they thought. There's a tradition that the
Indians sometimes held religious dances and feasts around the shores of
Lake Pleasant. Perhaps the remarkable purity and abundance of its deep
spring waters causes them to think their Great Spirit was partial to
this beautiful lake. And I wonder if you ever heard any references to
B: Only that this was a stopping place on their way down from Canada to
Florida and they stayed here in Indian summer to rest from their trip
down as they went into the Florida reservation.
K: That's interesting.
B: Yes. And people thought that they might have have been here, when I
was a child because of the piles of mussel shells along the beach. You
see, theyd keep the mussel and leave the shell and ... and there used
to be quite heavy piles of them. They've been tromped away and washed
away by now, but there used to be some there. So that's all I can
really know of it, but I think it's quite possible because we're right
on the way down, you see. They came down through Bernardston and then
down through Greenfield and down and around and on their way down to
Florida. I think it's quite likely that they would. Yah, if they were
here they certainly held their religious services because they were very
K: Well, why do you think it is that so many of the mediums have Indian
B: Well, there ... there is one thought on that matter and that is that
many of our mediums are quite coarse and earthy, earthy people. And
their vibratory rate wouldn't have been any higher than the native, you
see, and not to have anything against the native that way, but I mean
you can only attract to yourself the highest you are capable or being,
you see. For instance, if you're holding a seance in a saloon you
aren't going to get very high spirits because the vibratory rate is low
and heavy and the type you might like to reach wouldn't come in, so our
mediums had guides from among these simple Indian spirits that used to
be here, or had died here, and they did a certain amount of work. They
were able to bring quite a bit of light to people of their own nature
who didn't want anything higher, didn't want more intelligent and deeper
mysteries perhaps. And we really did have a lot of what we call coarse
K: How about ...
B: Heavy types.
K: How about people like May Pepper Vanderbilt? What kind of (muffled)
B: She had the little Bright Star, Bright Eyes. Well this, I told
you. She had rescued her from starving, you see, so she did come to
K: But she had more than just Bright Eyes, didn't she?
B: Oh heavens yes. She had a great many controls, a great many.
K: Do you remember any of the other controls? The kind of people
B: I'm afraid I don't. I remember May Pepper's work as a message
bearer, not as a teacher, a lecturer. I was too young to notice what
she was saying beyond the fact that the messages were very accurate and
interesting and bright and good but the names she had ... all names,
first, middle and last and dates. She'd say your father so and so and
so and so and so and so died and so and so and so and so and so and so
and buried so and so and so and so and ...
K: Oh, no.
B: And it just spellbound people, you know. But the ... but her actual
vibratory rate might have been like ... I have no idea. She was ... Mr.
Russell, when he came many years later was ... we were always comparing
him to May Pepper because much of his work was just as good, you see,
but she was the finest we ever had because year after year she came, you
know, and the people came, and they came from all over the country, and
we had thousands here when she was here. Not hundreds ... thousands
and they would be not only full in the Temple and standing room, but all
around the street five or six rows deep, you know. And they'd open all
the doors, you know, so her voice would carry in summer, of course, and
they could hear her.
K: Do you know how any of these mediums started? (muffled)
B: No, I don't know. As a rule it begins in childhood for a genuine
medium. And if the parents are sympathetic and don't stamp it out and
say you're lying and so forth, you develop gradually. As you develop
your power develops, but a ... and I would assume that anyone like May
Pepper had done that. She would have begun as a child. But not as a
public medium, you know ... because you see, mediumship, like any
talent, is not of one lifetime. You have developed over the ages and so
you can begin your childhood with it. It's something you've had when
you come in.
K: Because of having developed it in a previous life?
B: In previous (muffled) Yes, just as children will show their
talents, you know, with pencil or with writing poetry when they're five
years old or whatever. They brought it in with them, and it is a
talent. It has to be cultivated and, as I said, a dedicated medium can
reach quite a prominence and quite a high place in life. There were
mediums that were very fine during the Civil War and President Lincoln
went every, I think it was Thursday night of (muffled) to a Mrs. Howes,
there in Washington and consulted her on many of his people and
political problems. Quite a few of the presidents have had mediums that
they consulted. I believe the Kennedys, John Kennedy, too ... a woman
he went to there, and a lot of them have had astrologers. But, as I
said, I think that a really fine astrologer must have some psychic power
to interpret after she gets the chart, not to go entirely by words in a
book, you know. And certainly those that predict great public
happenings are not getting it entirely from the stars.
K: What do you think of Jean Dixon?
B: I think she must be a very remarkable medium, psychic. She
certainly has predicted many things that have come true. I think she
may be a little harried by her public life because, well, it got so
bad. I read recently that they had to get ... move, leave their home
... and get a place where no one knew where they were. Yes. You know
when you have a gift like that you're besieged night and day by people
that want to ask you things and most of them want to know who they're
going to marry or how theyre going to get a divorce. It can get very
tiresome after awhile. And, if you're going to have any private life at
all, you have to be anonymous. But I think she's probably very fine.
K: Yah. Another person I was wondering about was Colonel Ingersoll.
B: Ingersoll came here and lectured. Of course, he was certainly an
agnostic. He had the reputation of being an atheist, but the people who
were running the camp at the time had quite an open mind and they
thought that all philosophy, or lack of it, should be listened to and
judged for yourself and so they let him lecture here, and I didn't hear
him. I didn't see him when he was here. I never heard that he was
converted by what he found here, but he came and we had Elbert Hubbard
and we had, oh, some very fine men. I can't remember their names now.
K: Didnt Ingersoll give money for the Temple?
B: If he did I never heard of it. He may have done it, if you've come
upon it somewhere.
K: I seem to recall that. I'm not sure.
B: Either that or he turned over the fees. He may have done that.
They frequently do. A lecturer will turn over the basket. (muffled)
K: Oh, there's a publication ...
END OF SIDE ONE
MRS. BEGG DECEMBER 4, 1973: SIDE TWO
K: Siftings" by W.H Speare.
B: What was it?
K: It's supposed to be some sort of a ... a publication of the
(muffled) or something and the other was H.A. Budington's the Camp
B: Camp Meeting God?
B: Guide. Well, beyond that history that Budington wrote, I don't know
anything. You know, he did write the history.
K: Yah. I have that history.
B: He's the one, you know, that ... that roared at my Aunt Josie "See
you over Jordan.
K: Oh, yes. Yes, that's wonderful.
B: And he's the one who had the little wife, you know, the one who got
her second voice.
K: Yes, used to sing on the Bluff.
B: When she was in her 90s, yes.
K: Oh, these stories are so nice. I wonder ... can I read you a list
of some of the mediums?
B: Yes, and see if I know them.
K: And if you know ...
B: It would be much easier because I can't remember them offhand.
K: It's so long ago. I mean ... I think you've got an amazing memory.
Ok, stop me if they ring a bell at all: John Collier, Sarah Byrnes, J.M.
Peebles, Nellie Brigham, J. Rhodes Buchanan, Juliette Severence ... oh,
I should say that these are fairly early because ...
B: Yes, they must have been.
K: He wrote this history ... I forget when, but it's sort of early 1900
... Juliette Severence, Moses Hull ...
B: Moses Hull ... I didn't hear myself, but the name is very familiar.
I know he was here quite a bit.
K: Yah, William Denton. Now is that who Denton Street's named for?
B: Could be.
K: I wonder?
B: He might have been an officer in the association for awhile.
K: Yah, H.B. Storer, Ed S. Wheeler, Charles Dawbarn, J. Frank Baxter,
Edgar Emerson, Tilley Reynolds ...
B: Tilly Reynolds. I remember Tilly very well. She was a very sweet
person. Today you'd say she was a Christian Scientist. At that time I
don't believe shed even heard of it, but that's the way she operated.
Everybody loved her. She got to be an officer in the Association, and
she was a medium. I don't know how good. I was about that high (she
gestures) when Tilly was around and she was very well liked and she did
live into my adulthood, but she was very very old by then and I didn't
see her, but I heard of her death. I know that she lived into my
married life and she was one of the Lyceum teachers, a very sweet
person. I guess she probably was a good little medium because everybody
loved her and she was on the platform alone. She presided.
K: Mmm ... Carrie Twing ...
B: Well, Carrie Twing is a name that strikes a bell, but I don't know
anything about her. Nothing comes up.
K: R. Shepherd Lillie, Fred Willis, Lyman Howe, Lizzie Doten ...
B: Now Lyman Howe was one of those Howe brothers I told you about ...
up from Vermont, and he must have been very fine.
K: Come down here, yah. A.B. French, Sidney Dean, Professor Lockwood
B: Professor Lockwood ... He was not a spiritualist. He was a man from
New York and he lectured on philosophy and things of that nature, a very
K: Is he the one ... is he the one who did "On Catching and Training a
Wife," I wonder ...?
B: I don't know, but it sounds like him. He was a giant in form,
tremendous man, and fascinating, I guess.
K: I'll have to look that up later.
B: I was about ... oh, let me think ... I guess I was about 12, around
in there. I can remember how fascinating he was and when we went back
to New York he called on the family there, but he was not a psychic, you
know, or a man of the place. He was just a lecturer who they hired and
K: Yah. Mmm ... Oscar Edgerly, Kate Stiles, Jennie Hagan, Cora
B: Cora Richmond. Cora Richmond was a tremendous medium. She was a
complete trance medium and a friend of mine knew her and told me about
her. When she was ... before she knew that she was a medium, she went
to a seance with this friend and she said she would never have anything
to do with anything as silly as that, and her shoes were bothering her
during the evening and she took them off and my friend said that the
next thing she knew Cora was up on the stage, stocking footed and
delivering a tremendous lecture and was very fine and brought the house
B: Came to in her stocking feet, utterly horrified, to find what she
had done. But when she finally was convinced that this was true, that
it had happened to her, she began delving into it and she was ... she
was so fine that there's a whole book written about Cora Richmond, and
Harvard and Yale and colleges in England sent men over and they tried to
trick her on her ancient philosophy and her medical knowledge and
questions of all kinds and she ... her answers were just amazing and
they had to go away saying it must be true.
K: That's nice.
K: There's Maud Lord, who you were just talking about ... George
Fuller, J.J. Morse, Mattie Hull, Hudson Tuttle, J. Clegg Wright, N.J.
Willis, Henry Kiddle, Fanny Allyn, Robert ...
B: Fanny Allyn I remember ... a beautiful white haired woman, blue eyes
and very refined features. She got to be an officer and she was around
among the older women at the time I was a child. I don't know what her,
you know, mediumship was like, but I guess she must have been pretty
good. She got to be an officer.
K: Were all the officers mediums?
B: Oh, yes.
K: Oh, I didn't realize that ... Juliett Yeaw, Ira Moore Courliss, W.F.
Peck, Fanny Davis Smith, F.A. Wiggin, A.J. Davis, Dean Clark, A.E.
Tisdale, Hortense Holcomb, that's a good name ... F. Roscoe, T.
Grimshaw, Ida Whitlock, Colby Luther, May Pepper, B. Fay Mills, Edith
Nickless, John Slater ...
B: Oh, John Slater. He was another tremendous medium, and he was hired
by all the big temples everywhere. He went to Maine and he went to
Florida and everywhere and he was extremely convincing for men. Men
liked him. He was quick and sharp and no nonsense and very masculine.
Men liked him very much and I guess he left quite a record. John Slater
was awfully well known.
K: By Maine, do you mean Aetna?
B: Yes, Mt. Aetna.
K: (muffled) E.P. Thorndike, Clara Banks, Lizzie Harlow, Will Fletcher,
Susan Fletcher, Emma Hardinge, Clara F. Conant ...
B: That was my grandmother's name, Clara F. Conant. Not my flesh
grandmother, but my father's stepmother.
K: Well, did you know her?
B: Well I knew her as a grandchild but not as a medium. In fact I was,
I don't know, in my 40s, before I ever heard that she'd been a medium.
K: Oh, my goodness. I ... now I thought your father wasn't supportive
of Lake Pleasant.
B: My father and mother divorced when I was five and he didn't come up
here after that. Before that he went ... he ran the hotel with his
K: Oh, really? Oh, so he was from here then?
B: Oh yes, he was here. In the summer he was with his father. But you
see Clara Field was his second wife and she was the one that told me
that grandfather was a very terrible man. Remember I told you about how
I spent the night with him. Didn't I tell you?
K: I don't remember.
B: Well she came up here one day. I was about eight years old and she
said I think it's time you met your relatives. Nobody's taken you to
see the Squires. Well, I'd never heard of the Squires. So we went down
the line to Westfield, I think it was, and we had to spend the night in
the same room, and being a child you know I slipped off everything and
got in bed, and I lay there watching her. And she took off her flannel
jacket that she wore and then her dress and then a black petticoat and
then a corset cover, then three or four white petticoats and then these
great voluminous bloomer-like affairs, you know, and I said.
Grandmother, why do you wear so many clothes? She gave me a funny
look, but I didn't interpret it at the time and she said, Dorothy, your
Grandfather is a very terrible man.
K: Oh, no.
B: So that was the answer I got. Oh, I don't know, but at any rate ...
K: No, you didn't tell me that, oh ...
B: I thought I told you that one.
K: No, no.
B: But she was quite a business woman and very assertive and, they
separated, of course, and grandfather lived out at the farm and she
stayed in town.
K: The farm in Bernardston?
B: No, no ... the farm in Florida ... in Barto. He had a huge orange
grove down there and he was a local doctor and he ran a feed store at
one end of the main street and she ran a millenary store at the other
end and I vibrated between the two.
K: You must have had some childhood.
B: Oh, you don't know the half of it. I had a childhood and a half.
And very vivid memories of it all.
K: I'm afraid ...
END OF INTERVIEW
MRS. BEGG January 18, 1974
K: (garbled) Ok. I ... a friend of mine was hitchhiking and she got a
ride with a guy who said, Oh, I know someone else who's doing something
on Lake Pleasant. And he said that there was a girl at Hampshire who
was going out to talk to you about your healing powers, your psychic
powers. Is that true? Is there anybody who would do that?
B: No, not that I know of. Leslie comes here and we ...
K: Yah, the astrology ...
B: Discuss the esoteric things and astrology, but I have never made any
effort to use it for healing. She would like to and she's interested in
the astrological healing. She just read a book ... she called me this
morning ... just read a book on using astrology to heal because
apparently there are some conjunctions and one thing or other in
astrology this point out what the propensities would be, what type of
illness you might have, you see, and apparently the book suggests a
cure. I never heard of it but ...
K: It's really interesting ...
B: Mmm ...
K: The possibilities?
B: She would be the only one that I know because I don't as a rule see
anybody and I ... she has someone who wants to come. I had to turn them
down. I can't do it.
K: Yah ... well, what I was wondering was what have your experiences
been? You've talked of your mother, you know, having psychic abilities.
B: Yes, she had (garbled) very good.
K: But never of yourself.
B: And I've used it for, oh, I guess since 1942, but not for healing.
K: Yah. How did you find out that you had psychic powers?
B: I was born with it. They discovered it when I was about six years
old. One dusk I was not feeling well. I was lying on the bed and my
mother came upstairs and talked with me a minute. And I began telling
here about her sister, about my aunt, and she realized all of a sudden
what I was doing. At first she thought I had a fever, but at that age I
had never seen a hospital and knew nothing about how they would look or
anything and I told her that they were rolling my aunt in a door in
white on a white table, I said ... and the. ... I said ... and there're
men and women standing around there in white. And when mother realized
what I was doing she began asking questions and we discovered that ...
oh, I recognized my aunt and so apparently I told her what she wanted to
know and the next day she got a telegram and it said that my aunt had
been operated on for appendicitis in Chicago.
B: So you see ... yah ... and from then on different little things
happened. We were sitting one early evening, the daylight, on the porch
of a neighbor. I was sitting on the steps and looking right through
into the kitchen of the little house on the other side of the ground. I
guess I was about 10 then ... and several women were talking and
laughing and I looked through the kitchen and I saw this little old man
with a white beard, short, bending over a batch of bread that was
cooling and there was a towel over it and he lifted it and sniffed it
... and I said, Ooh, I said. There's a little old man in your
kitchen, Mrs. Bacon, and she jumped up and looked very startled. She
said, What's he look like? And I told her and she said, "My God,
that's my husband. He always loved my homemade bread."
K: And he was dead?
B: Yes, he'd been dead for 15, 20, years.
K: How did she react to all this?
B: Well, she ran in and looked at her bread for some reason or other as
though she thought he could have heard it in some way. Then she came
back out. She was quite shaken and she was a very devout Catholic and
it shook her up and it broke up the party, so I don't know how she
reacted after that. And then various things came up.
K: What kind of things?
B: Well, to tell you the truth, those are the two most vivid I
remember. I don't know what else happened. And then when I was about,
oh, about 30, I was sitting one afternoon talking with two women and one
of them was very much interested in these subjects and she said, "I
think that you can do psychometry." And I said, Well, I don't know.
She said, "Come on, let's try it." So she gave me a china teapot that
was up on her shelf and, low and behold, I could give the entire history
of the teapot and the family, that came over from England and that had
been at several weddings and funerals and I described the family and she
was real thrilled. Now then, in order to develop that you have to have
someone with you who knows the history of the object.
K: To verity it?
B: To verity it. So, from then on anybody I could corner who had a
ring or anything they knew the history of I practiced on and I began
studying, studying with a woman in Boston, and I read a great deal. Oh,
I must have read a hundred volumes, easily.
K: What was this studying that you were doing?
B: Psychometry, or the knowledge of how it comes about, that you can do
that and reincarnation and ... I didn't take astrology. It has a great
deal of mathematics in it and I can't do mathematics, and my brain just
doesn't work that way.
K: Me too.
B: (conversation about the grocery bills and her husband)
K: But when you were a child and your mother realized what was going
on, did she ... what did she tell you? How did you feel? Were you
B: No no, I'll tell you why I wasn't probably. We spent our summers
here and everyone in the family went to the meetings, you see, and I was
familiar with the effect, if not the cause, so it didn't frighten me.
And mother didn't push it. Nobody pushed it. They didn't believe in
pushing. They felt, as I feel now, that it's best left to open slowly,
not forced, because, you see, you must be, you must have a strong nature
and character of your own or you'll get swept away from your base and
get into all kinds of unpleasantness and things that are not right and
... because it's a very powerful force and many young people think, oh,
the first thing that they see that they can do anything in that line.
Immediately, you know, they are the saviors of the race and out they run
without knowing a thing about it, or what they can get into or what can
happen to them. Now, many of them wind up in insane asylums, many of
them wind up with a heavy drug scene and many of them wind up in great
trouble. This is because the influence is so close and so powerful that
unless you are strongly based yourself, unless your character is well
formed, you will do things that you shouldn't do. Now, you'll use it
for your own ego trip and for the making of money, which is all wrong.
It is not a gift to be used that way. A love offering if someone is
very grateful and wants to give you money and you've worked for several
hours with them, that's all right. You've got to live too, but if you
charge a set fee it's very wrong, and the basis of that wrong is that is
closing the door for someone that doesn't have the money but still has
the need for help.
K: Yah, that just is so good to hear you say.
B: Yes, yes, so I have never never turned anyone down who needed help
and ... but I haven't ever done it. One season everyone jumped on my
neck here at the camp because I wasn't asking a fee. They were very
angry and "If you do it for money, how in the hell am I going to get any
money out of it." This was the attitude of our public platform mediums,
and right then and there I washed them out of my hair because I said
they're not genuine.
K: What time was this?
B: That was somewhere in the early 40s.
K: Early 40s, yah?
B: 43, or 4, or 5 ... around in there ... no, no, it wasn't, because
Mr. Begg died in 42. It was before that, so say it was from 40 to 42.
K: Did you ever practice trance mediumship?
B: No, I was a trance medium, but I rejected that form. I don't like
K: Why is that?
B: I want to be in full command of my senses and myself and my
faculties because the experience I had with it I didn't like.
K: Well, can you describe to me what it was like to be a trance medium?
B: Well, what it was like was that you are out of your body and another
spirit is in your body, in full control of what you're doing and saying
and when you come back to your body you have known nothing about all of
this. When you come back to your body you are responsible for what has
been said and done.
K: Have other people told you who your guides were? What they were
B: No, just recently I have been told that one was a woman. Her name
was Helen, but I don't know whether it's true or not. I know that my
own guardian angel helps me. I know that probably it's quite likely
that my own grandmother and aunt helped me. I have lost a very dear
friend, a close friend of over 20 years. I lost her, and I knew that
she helps me. I'm positive of it. She understood and studied these
subjects and I'm sure she's helped me and a...
K: That sounds quite different from the things that I've been hearing
from Mrs. Bauerlein and Mrs. Shattuck about their mothers' having
Indians and people they didn't know.
B: Yes, this way trance control ... and fortunately Mrs. Shattucks
mother, as far as I know, never used it for commercial purposes. It
was a home seance.
K: Home medium, yah?
B: So she didn't get into any trouble ... but when I discovered what
they could make you do. Now there are two instances that I am positive
about. One is myself and the other is a medium who used to come here on
the grounds, and she had an Indian control who loved pork, fresh pork,
and every time he got in he would eat great quantities of roast pork and
she'd be deathly ill for a week afterwards. She had an allergy to it.
She couldn't stand it.
K: Oh, no.
B: So, I know that case is true. With myself they made me eat
tobacco. Well, now there's nothing in my entire being that would have
anything to do with tobacco, and that made me feel sick. And I right
then and there ... I said no more for me. I want to be in control. I
want to know what I'm doing and what I'm saying.
K: One of Mrs. Shattuck's mother's guides made her eat a lot of bananas
and she didn't like them. They were always afraid that she would get
B: This is what happens. Yes, this is what happens (garbled) genuine
K: Well why do you think the guides, the controls, are so careless as
to let this happen?
B: Well, because, as I have mentioned before, the influence is so
powerful that the guide is overruled, especially an Indian chief. You
wouldn't quarrel too much with him. You wouldn't get very far if you
K: Yah, I think I'm using my vocabulary wrong. I was thinking of a
guide as a spirit who came in. But a guide is ...
B: Oh, no. A guide is the one who stands at the door at every seance
or reading and keeps away the evil influences that might harm or
destroy, or well, keep the truth from being spoken, you see. You'd be
surprised the number of people ... now you won't understand before you
begin to study that people are no different after death than they are in
life, and if you wouldn't take their word while they're here, don't
trust it afterward. And if you wouldn't take their advice, why they
well don't ask for it. People get carried away with it. They think
ooh, you know. and shall I do, shall I sell my house ... keep on asking
those questions because they don't know any more about it than you do.
K: That's what most of the people at the seances that I went to were
asking ... those sorts of questions.
B: I know it. Very precarious. My grandmother was a skeptic. I told
you she went to to see Lord, and she would go to the seances here and my
aunt would say, Oh dear god, there goes mother again. I'll have an
awful time with her when she gets home.
K: Oh dear.
B: Because while she was there and for a few hours afterward, she
believed utterly everything that was said to her, and some of it was
such hogwash, but grandmother would come home and do it and they would
tell her, "Stand up for you rights. Do what you want to do." They'd
fill her full of fire and brimstone, you know. Then she'd come home
and, oh, you couldn't do anything with her.
K: She was convinced?
B: Yes, for about a week. And then she'd calm down and begin to use
her with it, seeing that it wasn't right.
K: That's interesting, because, lets see ... I can't remember who told
me, but I had been given the impression that once you died and were in
the Summerland you sort of had foresight. You could see the future.
B: Oh no, no, my dear. You have to remember that there is one law in
all the universes and claims, and growth is slow, and you grow here
through experience. You grow over there through contemplation of
experience, the resolve to do better the next time around, if you're
intending to improve yourself. If you're on the right track you can,
after a time, quite a few years, if you have a vivid interest in art or
writing or being a musician, you can go to the various institutions that
teach these things and you can learn, but meanwhile you are moving
further and further away from the earth scene and what is going on
there, you see. Your interests are focused away from the earth scene
on what you want to create, what you want to do, and you return very
briefly, only when they think of you heartily. If someone loves you and
is thinking and missing you, and so forth, you are brought back to the
earth atmosphere for the time being, but you soon drift away again
because theyre beyond protection and danger through suggestion.
There's not much you can do about it. Hence you might as well get
along, because you're coming back anyway, and if the tie has been a
strong one between two people you'll meet again, so there's no
particular point on their part, once they've gotten free of the body,
once they're in the Summerland, once they're moving ahead, knowing that
they're not separated forever. There's no particular point in their
coming back. And you do not all pass immediately into the Summerland,
because you go through Purgatory first. The Catholics are right about
K: Yah ... I don't want to keep ... make you get your (her hot
chocolate is getting cold)
B: Oh, that's ok.
K: Well, let's see ... I've been reading sort of bits and pieces of a
number of books and one of them is a book called The Inner Life by
Leadbeater. It's a theosophical book.
B: He's fine .
K: He was talking about sort of a period that some people experienced,
when, for instance, they died suddenly. Oh theres your wood. (the
timer set for Mrs. B to stoke her fire rang) ... and they werent
prepared for it and they would go into sort of a very ... oh ... dark
sort of realm where they would just wander around and they wouldn't let
go of their earth ties.
B: These are called earth bound.
K: Yah, and people here thinking of them would draw them back even
further, you know ...
B: Theres something about this earthbound business you should know and
that is that they can be very troublesome, very, very bad business to
get tied up with an earthbound spirit, because they tend to suck your
strength, to interfere suggestively, you see, with your life in every
way. And Jesus said, and I believe, yah, I think it was Jesus, to test
the spirit. In other words not to believe everything, unless it
coincides with reason and logic, that you're told, and, if you have any
doubts, to quietly and nicely tell them leave me alone. You don't want
them. You have to do it. It sounds cruel when someones finally made
contact, but you refer them to their own teachers and you can pray for
them and so forth but you don't want them and, let me see ... Manley P.
Hall is very good. He is a reincarnationist and he teaches, I believe,
in California, and his works are excellent on reincarnation. But for
actual spirit work there's very little that (muffled) would do any good.
K: Have you read a book by Jane Roberts called ... oh, I think the name
of it is How to Develop your ESP?
B: No. This is all very well. I don't hold with it too much because
of what people will do with it after they get it. As I said, they
think immediately that they know everything and they start playing God
in other people's lives, and what they don't realize is that the Akashic
record which exists in the Universe and is the record by which justice
is inevitably done, there can be no injustice because the Akashic record
has for eternity and indelibly engraved upon it every thought word and
deed that you have ever had or done and between lives, when you look at
that record, if you have interfered in someone's life, it is there and
you've got to balance it.
K: How do you go about balancing it?
B: In your next life you bring that over as a debt to that spirit and
maybe you would adopt a child that had no parents or you would take a
young invalid to take care of, or, my own theory, after years of study,
is that nurses are paying off a great deal of this interference.
K: Do you think that ... do you have any idea if you're in your first
life or your wheneventh life?
B: I have been told, and I fairly well believe, that I've had well over
a hundred lives, and it is so familiar to me that I think I have. I
don't quarrel with it, and now ... when you are especially attracted to
a certain country 10 to one you've lived there and it's been pleasant
and happy. If you are especially hesitant, you know, about a place or
people or a country that is because you had sad or painful experiences
either with the people or the country. I had an absolute proof of
that. I was sitting on my porch. We lived up in that house at one time
and I was sitting there with other guests years ago and a man that we
knew and liked very much came down the street and we rose to greet him
and with him he had a woman and so help me I was standing there looking
at her and I retreated six feet without moving.
K: Wow, why?
B: I backed right up. I'd never seen her so far as I knew, and I said
to myself, Oh, don't be a fool? Everyone else likes her. This man
thinks she's wonderful. He's brought her down proudly to introduce her
to us. I had one of the most terrible experiences of my life with that
K: Wow, do you remember what it was?
B: Oh, yes, but I'd rather not talk about it.
K: Oh, sure.
B: But it proved to me that my first retreat had been right.
K: Oh, you mean later you had a bad experience?
B: Yes, yes.
K: Oh, I thought you meant that you hadn't realized then that in
another life ...
B: No, no. No, no, not then, not then ... but after I had this
experience I realized that I had been warned, you see, something warned
my guardian angel, warned me.
K: That's fascinating.
B: And so, after the experience, after things had cooled down awhile,
and they were quite awhile cooling down, maybe a year or two ... I
sought her out and I told her how I felt and I said that if there was
anything to forgive I wanted to be sure that I forgave her and if she
had anything she wanted to forgive me I wanted to be sure she would and
we parted on very warm and friendly terms and she died about six months
later, so, I was very glad that I had done it in time. So, I know that
what they call intuition is true and it should be obeyed under all
K: Yah, I put a heavy store on intuition myself. Its usually
B: Yah, you don't have to be rude or anything, but after I had that
warning I should never have gotten as friendly with her as I did.
K: Yah. Would you explain to me ... you were speaking of purgatory ...
would you explain to me what happens to you when you die? What your
B: I have a little pamphlet that will explain it all that I'd be glad
to give you ... in words that you can look back at again and again ...
and I believe in it thoroughly. Now, there is a way to avoid
purgatory. If early in life you begin every night when you go to bed to
begin with the hour that you go to bed and take it back to when you woke
in the morning in your thinking and if you have done anything that you
wish you hadn't, that is the time to say so to yourself. You say,
Well, I made that mistake and I'm sorry, but Ill never do it again.
This is a daily review of your life, you see, and at the end when
everyone else is having what they call the after death panorama, which
begins at the death and goes back to birth and reviews everything that's
ever happened. You judge yourself as you go through these scenes and
this ... and then, you have all that accumulated evil that's got to be
purged and so you get into purgatory. Now purgatory is not hell fire
and flames. It is not any direct evil. It is sorrow for the wrong that
you have done, and you judge yourself far more harshly than anyone else,
even as you (muffled) so if you feel right with yourself, according to
all the ethics that you know, well then, there's no sense in purgatory.
It can be avoided, you see. It is not a punishment. It is a washing
away of things which will leave what is left as pure as possible. It's
like washing the wool from a lamb, you know. It comes filthy in the
beginning and yet it can be cleansed and used and this is true of the
spirit. It has to be washed now and then.
K: Yah, so it doesn't accumulate.
B: If you have done something that cannot be washed away, like murder
or the destroying of another human being, such as men do in business and
so forth, then you not only go through purgatory, but you come back in a
position in which that man can slap you too. I mean if it's got to
balance, you see. So, in the long run it pays to be a Christian, but
people can't see it and the minute they get some money they're off and
gone and they couldn't care less about the ethics, and this is sad, very
sad. I just read a novel part way through and I left it. I was in
blood up to here and I thought what am I reading this sort of thing for
... a historical novel at the time of William the Conqueror. It was so
beautifully written that it fascinated me, but I said then, as I've said
before in reading history, you can see that all the ills of today come
from ... we have earned them, every last one of them. Men thought
nothing, thought less than nothing of maiming and being brutal and of
torturing and of killing and of drawing and quartering people still
alive and taking out their eyes and their tongues and cutting off their
ears ... and Holy Mother it was terrible. So, now that cannot be washed
away by saying I'm sorry. That has got to be the cause of affliction in
a later life. If you are not strong enough to take it immediately, it's
postponed, but you've got to do it. They do wait sometimes many hundred
years to bring you face to face with the person you injured that way and
because sometimes because you're not strong enough and sometimes it's
because they are not in incarnation at the same time you are, or in the
same country or whatever ...
K: So, you come back in another?
B: When you make up your major events for each life between work,
between lives you read that Akasha and you decide which debts you will
pay, whom you will marry. Well, first you decide who your parents will
be, whom you will marry, what children, if any, you will have, what your
talents are, and when youve done that you ... when you have gotten that
all straightened out, then you will look at that record again and see if
your karma is going to permit this, or if those people are going to be
in incarnation at the time. This you find out from your guardian angel
and the lords of Karma. They know these things.
K: But you do have some say in it?
B: You have all the say there is.
K: They just have to approve it, yah?
B: He'll decide, you decide. They may possibly say, My dear you have
taken too great a burden. You can't cope with it. Leave a little of it
off this time. Or they would say, I think you're strong enough for a
little bit more. You see, you're aided and guided in this choice but
it is yours and as life progresses and you get weary of it and possibly
... and you say I must have been an idiot to choose this pattern ...
reason with yourself and remember that when you chose it you knew why
you chose it and so you were willing to accept it. Of course, you
forget when you get the flesh.
K: But ... yah, that's what I was just wondering ...
B: (garbled) get a body on you. However, now, when I was only around 16
I remember walking where there were great stores of window, big plate
glass windows, and I would be looking at myself in the plate glass
window and I would say for no reason on earth that I knew of, "God keep
me out of hospitals. A young girl, bloom of life, looking in this
plate glass mirror, you know. There was no scene of a hospital or
anything. When I was older I found out why.
K: You had a lot of trouble with hospitals, yah?
B: Yah, see ...
K: So you knew?
B: This is what shows me personally that the Akasha is right and I have
had many other cases of people writing me who could trace (muffled) and
this is one reason why I advise against divorce. I feel that the vow
was made before you came into life with the full consent of both parties
and it is a much more profound and vital vow than the one that you make
with the priest or minister because you made it in full knowledge of why
... and therefore if its possible to either remake the marriage, erase
the trouble, or stay together in friendliness, in some manner, it's best
to, because if you don't finish what youve started in this life youve
got to pick it up and finish it in another. So, I say, of course, the
decision is yours, but these are the facts and I think you should know
them and if you leave there is only one way that you can do it without
accumulating more karma, and that is if both parties consent without
resentment and without anger to a sacrilege. Now this does happen
K: And that would be, like the natural finishing of ...?
B: That's the natural finishing of the situation.
K: Yah? Yah?
B: But if you're leaving anger and hurt, pain, misery and agony behind
you and trying to marry someone else, you will never make it. You can't
build on that kind of sand.
K: I'd like to get back some more to your personal experiences and I
wonder ... I phrased that wrong when I asked you if you had known who
any of your guides were. Were you ever told who the spirits were who
came in ... into you and possessed you?
B: At that time that I ate the pork?
K: Well, any ...
N: No, not pork, tobacco.
K: The tobacco ... or how much did you know what was going on?
B: I didn't know anything. There were two women with me, the president
of the Association and Barbara, and she said that my entire face
changed, well everything but the bones, but the shape of it and the look
of it and the one that chewed tobacco was an Indian, and she said that I
looked and sounded exactly like one. Then a little girl who had drowned
came in and I looked just like her, a little child, and wept and cried
for my mother ... and then a medium who had died about 12 years before,
Katey King, came in and told the President of the Association who she
was, what she was buried in, what happened at her funeral, and thanked
her for being at the funeral (muffled) so when I came to and they told
me what had happened I did not mind the child or Katey King, in fact the
president said, Well if Katey King hangs around, you're in for some
career. She was one of the finest they had.
K: Wow. Did you do this, you know, for people who came here?
B: I did at that time, yes, so I did. But I was a psychometrist. I
was not a medium. I just held whatever they handed me, you so ...
K: Oh, ok. So you didn't do this trance work then?
B: Oh, no. No, no, I refused to do it quite bluntly.
K: Did you do anything beyond psychometry? After psychometry?
B: Well, now and then, but rarely, at a time that I was having group
work, 14 or 15 people.
K: Now what's that?
B: Well, some people call it a seance. It's a circle, a circle full of
people and you sit in the middle. And I never did work in the dark. I
always had my desk light on. I sat behind the desk. And I had a little
black velvet pillow, black. And they would put the things on the pillow
that they wanted me to read, a ring, or a pin, or a flower, or whatever
they wanted, and as I picked each one up, I was very very fortunate in
those days because it was quick and it was ... I would say 97 percent
truthful as far as they were concerned. They could recognize whatever
it was that I was saying and names of people and so forth and the
events. I did that for two years, but it put me in the hospital.
K: With pressure?
B: The nervous strain, high blood pressure. I got very sick, so I took
my shingle down and said, No more, but I enjoyed it and it was
excellent exercise for my power.
K: Yah, is this power something that you sort of continually develop?
B: Oh yes. Yes ... I really believe that once you've cultivated it,
and when I use that word cultivate, I mean it. You have got to be what
they call a dedicated person. The spirit has to come first, and if
you've made an appointment you have to keep it whether you want to or
not, or whether company comes or whatever, because that hour is known to
the other side. They will keep the appointment, and if you don't, you
see, you're breaking your connections, you're disturbing their routine
and you're being very rude.
K: Yah, now when you speak of an hour is that the time that you
actually set aside?
B: Well, whenever I told a person to come, let's say two-thirty, I had
to be there no matter what broke. I had to be there.
K: You had to make sure, yah?
B: Because I ... I was, if I do say so, genuine. The whole family can
attest to that, and it was a pure love offering basis. I never charged
or anything, as I say until that summer they called me down. They were
angry. You should have heard (muffled) and I looked at them and I
thought, Well you're spiritists, but you're not spiritualists.
K: Were most of the mediums here women?
B: Oh, we had quite a spattering of men, but most of the men were what
we called in those days nancies. They were homosexuals, you see,
because the feminine spirit is the negative and can believe and accept
the invisible and things they don't know. They can cultivate their
spirit much easier than a masculine male.
K: Well, why is that? Do you have any theories?
B: This, well, as I say, they turned to mediumship because it's a way
to make a living, and they're not muscular and they're not interested in
rough sports or things of that nature, and many times their mothers are
mediums, especially in the old days. And they grew up in that
atmosphere. They went to meetings with their mothers, and then
discovered that they had some power too.
END OF SIDE ONE
MRS. BEGG SIDE TWO
K: Do you believe that mediumship has any sort of hereditary basis or
that either that everyone has the potential for developing it?
B: Everyone has the potential. Say now, when we have the child mediums
such as I was. My belief, although Ive never been told it is that I
was very mediumistic in another life, if not the last life ... so the
power carried over, you see. Everyone has the capacity to cultivate
their sensitivity to what is going on in the atmosphere. In other
words, we can become good radios. We can tune in and I wouldnt ... I
dont by any means mean that all mediums are homosexuals of the men,
because its quite likely theyre not, but those that we had here were.
K: Yah. How aware was the public here? The philosophy of
B: This is what I told the president after a few of the rows. I said,
Helen, these people dont need messages, they need the philosophy.
They didnt have it. They had no interest in it. It was only the money
that lured them, and if they didn't make so much a day they'd gather
around and carry on and it was terrible.
K: And yet, were most of them genuine?
B: Im really not in a position to say. I think that there must have
been quite a few who were, but you must remember, it was an open field.
It was a new gimmick for making money and the people are very vulnerable
when they lost somebody they love. Theyre too ready to believe. And
people, certain ages and types, took advantage of them. They were not
genuine, and in hiring them to be on our platform here, I think that
many times the president had no way of knowing whether they were genuine
or not til they got here, and then perhaps, having hired them, she
disliked to discharge them. I don't know, but we had some that were
very very fine and we had others that were a disgrace to the (garbled).
There isnt really much way of telling when one pretends to be in a
K: Yah. Well, what do you think of Houdini and what he did of going
B: Im certain that he had spirit help but he never would admit it.
K: But he really attempted to expose mediums.
B: I know he did.
K: But ...
B: This, this was a double betrayal because many of the things that
Houdini did ... well I read an article lately, well not this year, but
quite a few years back, purporting to be from Houdini admitting that he
had great help from the other side and he was apologizing and asking to
be forgiven. Now it may be true. It may not be.
B: But it would seem he did many things that he would not have survived
without their help.
K: Yah, Yah that's interesting. I've been sort of wondering about what
the state of the country was in the late 1700s, early 1800s, through the
1900s that made America ripe for spiritualism. Why around the turn of
B: As far as I know that was a period of witch hunting. We abused our
psychics through ignorance and I don't know ... now I have no way of
proving this statement. I read by someone who was debunking it that we
never burned a witch.
B: But we certainly hounded them to death. The ignorant village
people, if a woman had any perception at all, made her life miserable,
if she was foolish enough to let them know it ... because the witch
trials were very recent then you see, and in everybody's mind and they
were ripe. They were afraid of this power because they had no knowledge
K: But then why did it all of a sudden become so publicly acceptable?
Well, I guess that's questionable ...
B: I believe that it didn't begin in this country.
B: It came here from Europe. Now, a man from Germany and a woman from
Russia told me that in their childhood, and they were older than I, it
was very prevalent both in Russia and in Germany, and that when we call
this the mother church, it's the mother church for this country, not for
the world, but it came here through the Fox sisters you see.
K: Right. Yah.
B: Came to New York in 1848, but prior to that ... I'm not sure I don't
know how much was recognizable here, prior to the girls. There was a
great deal of superstition and talk about ghosts, and churchyards and
all of that, but actual mediumship, I doubt that there was much of it.
K: Well I wonder why it just flourished so then and then suffered such
decline. I mean what was it about the time that made people ripe for
spiritualism. (while I am asking this Mrs. B. has moved away and is
stoking the fire)
B: Well, I have never thought about that and I don't really know dear.
B: You have to think about it and study it and hunt up things.
B: I don't really know myself.
K: Yah? I just wondered if you had any theories?
B: I haven't. I was trying to think for a minute if we've had any
recent wars. There was the War of 1812 that left, of course, many
people without their men. Whether we get some more ...
K: The Civil War.
B: That was 1865. That was (muffled)
K: Yah, and I've heard a lot of references to the Civil War.
B: Well, Lincoln himself, you know, had seances in the White House
before all the important judgments that he made. He sought help, yes,
and quite a few people with him and I've heard recently that John
Kennedy did too.
K: Yah. Yah.
B: So there's been a thread of it running, but they've made the
mistake, as I told you when I started to talk, by believing everything
they heard, by not sifting and judging by their own common sense. We
have a great many psychics today that are fine with prophecy. Now I
have very little of that. Once in a great while I will be asked a
question and the answer will pop out and it's usually right, but I don't
look ahead. I make no attempt to prophesize at all. I don't know. I
know, in believing so thoroughly that we choose our own lives that it's
10 to one that your future will be a great deal like your present, but
you're in to learn one lesson, or one or two, and whatever happens to
you, it's for that. It is to teach you patience or grace or mercy or
forgiveness or compassion, some quality in your nature needs refining
and so you choose the life that will do that. Being in charge of your
K: How does your power manifest itself now? How do you feel you're
B: Oh, now I just ... people write to me and I write them and I have
the letter to psychometrize.
K: Can you talk more about psychometry to me? I'm not sure that I
B: Psychometry to me is the mystic art of picking up all the essential
events of a persons life through their material or ornamental or, well,
even their clothing will do it. The handwriting, that gives a great
deal, a letter. You ought to try it for yourself. See if you've got the
power. If you have it you have to cultivate it. It won't work
immediately. When you get a letter, see if you know about what's in
it. Hold the letter without opening it. Press it to your forehead and
be quiet for a few minutes and then read it and then see if you haven't
found out some of the things that are in it.
K: Miss Hughes was talking about the same exercise.
B: Did she? Yes, that's a splendid one, but when you're through with
it immediately wash your hands or let cold water run on your wrists.
B: And that breaks the connection, else you'd be, you'd go on forever
more or less picking up these things little by little by little by
little. Youve got to break the connection when you're through with
it. This will also stop nightmares and fear and if you're susceptible
to evil influences or anything of that kind the running of cold water on
the wrists will break it.
K: Well why? Why do you suppose that works?
B: I have no knowledge of why. I know it works. I was told it when I
was 10 years old and used it all my life, and it works.
K: That's really interesting. Yah?
B: Yes. Well water is a conductor, you see, and if you're going to try
any exercises you should always have open water near you, either a bowl
or a pail or whatever, even a tumbler will do, because it's a conductor
between the two worlds. You see, water is electrical.
B: It has electricity in it and that, it is the electricity that
refreshes you if you've been on a long walk and you're thirsty and hot
and tired, and you drink the water. It's the electricity that passes
through you that revives you, you see. It's a good aide. In Ireland
for hundreds of years, when someone was dying or being born, they'd put
an open tub of water in the room. I dont suppose they knew why, but
they knew that it made the death easier and the birth easier.
K: Its really interesting. Yah?
B: And this is one reason too why this lake has been such a splendid
place for the mediums (muffled) the water, you see.
K: Yah. And why the Indians used to hold their ceremonies?
B: And the Indians, yes.
K: By water. Yah, I remember your talking about that.
B: But I feel that if you're looking for any spiritual connection or
information, theres not too much point in searching for the ignorant.
You want to go as high as you can. Aim high even if you don't make it.
And you want an intelligent, intellectual, good reliable spirit, like a
teacher or a priest or someone who is supposed to be dedicated in this
world and presumably their spirit will have been purified and they will
be of help and strength.
K: Who are your teachers here? I mean what mortals? When you were a
child who would tell you things about spiritualism?
K: I was thinking of questions.
B: I just (garbled) went to the meetings and I listened.
K: Is that where you heard of the water and things like that?
B: Oh that. No, no ... my teacher in Boston.
K: Oh, that was your teacher in Boston, yah?
B: And, uh, it was the ... she told me about using water when I gave a
reading. She didn't tell me about breaking the connection. Fred Hart
told me that when I was 10 years old, when he was first instructing me
K: Now, who is he ?
B: Fred Hart used to come here with his mother and father during the
late 1800s and I was friendly with his little girl, Ruth. In fact, we
were the only two children here for a long long time. She came in the
summers and went away back to Springfield in the winters, but both her
father and mother were reincarnationists, theosophists.
K: Theosophists, yah?
B: And he told me about running the cold water. Of course, I know
now. I didn't know then, and our life together was interrupted too
young for me to realize that he himself must have been a splendid
psychic. Now there's a difference between a psychic and a medium. A
medium has cultivated the power to a point where she can use it for
others, on call, on tap. A psychic is someone who is aware of all that
goes on and may or may not use it. You can be a psychic all your life.
K: So does a psychic realize that he or she is psychic?
B: After you have studied for awhile you realize what you're doing.
Yes, there is something in it that tells you. I told you about the time
I was in the theater and the girl in front of me was so depressed. Did
I tell you about that?
K: I don't remember that.
B: Well, stop me if you start remembering.
B: I was a young married woman and had nothing to do with this for a
long time, been away from here for 15 years. I sat in back of this
young woman. And I realized suddenly that that she was surrounded by a
very deep brown haze, about six inches out around her whole body, stood
out around her, and I thought to myself, Oh dear. Now I knew enough
about these things to know that brown was a bad color. Brown is, while
it is a nature color, it is also a color of depression and illness and
great sorrow, and I sat there and struggled with myself, until the
picture was over. I didnt see any of it. I just kept thinking about
her and picking up from her mind. She was in a terrible state and I
felt that she was desperate enough to commit suicide and I thought, Oh
I must speak to her. You know how you are when you're young and
strangers. You would think, Oh she'll think I'm crazy and wouldn't
like it at all. She wanted to be let alone. I argued all that time.
I didn't do anything about it, went home. And I don't remember how long
elapsed before I picked up the paper. It might have been a month or so,
and they said, the paper, the article said that this ... I asked the
usher who she was ... I was so upset ... said that this girl had gone to
New York, and I thought, Well now that's nice. She'll probably meet
somebody and forget the whole thing. I went to the train, to the
railroad station very shortly after that, and, while waiting for the
people I was waiting for I looked aside that way and the baggage men
were taking a coffin off the train, and something made me go down and
look at the name on that coffin, and it was her.
K: Oh, wow.
B: And I thought to myself. Oh lord, maybe if I had spoken to her,
maybe if I'd let her talk it out, someone who really cared what was
happening, you know, she wouldn't have done it. That she wouldnt
B: So this is what I mean by a psychic. You pick up things that other
people arent aware of at all. You enter a room and you know almost
immediately what the atmosphere is, if there's been a quarrel, if
everything is going well, if they really want you or if you'd better go
home early, you see. This is being psychic, and you receive impressions
when people hand you things, and they're either pleasant or unpleasant.
Well thats the nucleus that you can cultivate and develop into
mediumship, see. You're aware that you're different, you're separate
many times in a group. You think, What am I here for? I don't belong
here at all. Im wasting my time, and things of that nature. And it
isn't always wise to develop it helter skelter or hit or miss or too
arduously if its going to interfere with the normal course of events it
isn't wise, because you're interfering perhaps with your own pattern
that you came in to accomplish. I wouldnt have sought it myself ever,
public life, but I was coerced into it by those who knew me and they
kept saying, Well you ought to do it. You ought to help people. You
can. You know you can. We know you can. You ought to, and it kept on
and on until I agreed to try it. Well, I got into such a melay that I
couldnt feel I could get out of it until I got sick, so ... and I got
very thrilled when I realized that I could use the letter to work with.
I didn't have to have people cause then I can be quiet.
K: What's ... how do people know about you to write to you? Is it...
B: It began in an office in California and from then to now over 1000
people have just told each other (muffled) so I work all morning at
that. Then I have my lunch and sometimes I go back up for another hour
if I'm strong enough, but I feel that whatever strength I have should be
given to that and not just idly amusing myself. I fight quite a
physical fight to keep up. So many durned things wrong with me it isn't
funny, and yet every morning I'm able to get up there, do my best and
B: And I think on spirit help, Im sure.
K: In your writing you are advising people?
B: It ... no, I never advise, any more than I have to you, but to warn
or to say, This way looks as though it would work out, or you could do
this or you could do that and somewhere as I'm writing will come the
inspiration that, that will be what they're after. I have to begin. I
take it on faith. They're perfect strangers. They're all over the
country and over the world and I never have seen them and never will see
them, but something from their writing comes up to me, the touch, the
connection is made, and I'm off.
K: Wow. Thats really wonderful.
B: Well, it's very satisfying, especially when I have all the letters
back that, you know, that has helped, and changed their lives.
K: What a responsibility.
B: Yes, it is, except I don't feel responsible because I don't tell
them what to do. They're going to make their own choices in every case
... and sometimes it's more or less curiosity, you know. They want to
see what I'll come up with ... and this rises from the paper too, and I
know it and I tell them so.
K: That's something.
B: But what I am anxious to do ... oh, let me get that pamphlet before
you have to leave and I forget it.
K: Oh. Yah.
B: What I am anxious to do Kathy is to reach as many young people as
B: So they at least know this exists.
K: So it's carried on?
B: So, so it will go on. And so it can help them to face what's coming
because, I'm sorry to say that I feel that there'll be a great deal to
B: And the more faith you have the easier it's going to be. You have to
remember that chaos precedes order and not be frightened of that.
K: Yah. It's a hard one.
B: Yes. (laughter) It's true ... the great thing to remember dear is
not to panic.
K: Yah. That's what I haven't learned.
B: Don't panic no matter what the situation is, because then, you see,
you disperse your forces, and what might have helped you is driven
away. Just keep calm and slow down. Wait a little, and the ... this
explains what purgatory, what they have discovered ... Leadbetter, Max
Heindel, and the rest of them and this is rebirth and this ... did I
give you one of these? I don't think I did.
K: No you didn't. No. (she is giving me Rosecrucian pamphlets)
B: I send all of these out to everybody who writes me. If this is
applied to your daily life it will amaze you what it does.
K: This is all Rosecrucianism?
B: Yes, yah, but it explains life after death. This I give with a
little reservation. Theyve made, and the Bible made, one stupid
thing. Jesus was asking them who he was, and one of the men said that
he might be John the Baptist. Well now, John the Baptist and Jesus were
contemporaries. They werent using their wits, see, but this has been
included in here. However, the rest of its good. Oh, but people say
it isnt in the Bible. I dont want to have anything to do with it.
Do you realize that the handwriting on the wall was the spirits
communication? Thats in the Bible. The witch of Endor's seance is in
the Bible and a perfect description of a seance. She brought up the
spirit of, I think, King David for Saul to talk to, or she brought Saul
up for King David to talk to (laughter), I dont remember which, but she
brought the spirit to the King and, let me see ... theres that. You
know the handwriting on the wall was interpreted by Daniel as meaning
You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
K: According to the Akashic record?
B: No, no. (Agitated). Its in the Bible.
K: No, oh no, but ...
K: Was that a record?
B: Yah, well, no a spirit hand ... the king, Joshua, I think it was. I
awful poor on remembering names. Well, at any rate, they'd had a
banquet to celebrate a victory, and the king and his courtiers, and
harlots and the rest that were there, drank the celebration out of the
golden vessels from the altar. They desecrated the altar, and they
looked up and they saw this hand beginning to write on the wall. It
said, You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. And
that night, when they were all lying there in a drunken stupor, the dam
broke and flooded the palace and killed them all. So there was a
warning from spirits that they'd take ... that theyd stop drinking, but
they just went and drank some more out of the same golden vessel. But
theres quite a few things in the Bible, so when people say its not in
the Bible, theyre wrong, because it is.
K: Youve gone on from spiritualism and Louise Shattuck has gone on.
Do you think that a lot of people who were here have gone on to
theosophy and other things?
B: I wouldnt be surprised, although they would not allow it on the
pulpit. I know for a fact that Mr. Russell does. He believes he's got
the cosmo conception right on his bed table he said and I ...
K: I remember your telling me that story, oh.
K: Good old Mr. Russell.
B: And I said to him, Well, then why don't you teach it if you believe
it? He wanted me to work with him and I said, No, it wouldn't do,
because Id tell them what I believed, and he said not on my pulpit
and I said, "No, we're not allowed to." The bylaws and all the different
things set it up tight for spiritualism (muffled) reincarnation.
B: So he, in his heyday when he had great crowds ... he had hundreds of
people. He could have done a beautiful job on it, and it's a shame.
K: So you think that he just basically didn't believe it himself?
B: No. Oh I think he went along with ... the officers here didn't want
to interfere with his job.
K: How did you become an officer here? I mean how does one, you know,
B: Well, in the old days I guess money did the trick. (laughter)
K: That's discouraging.
B: Someone with money, but I don't just know. It had to have been
money with Helen. I don't know how she got to be president. Im sure
she was not a medium.
K: What was Helen's last name?
B: Helen ... now I know it so well. Mmm ... got a block.
K: Maybe she's in that list of names?
K: Helen Turney. Yah?
B: She was president for many years when I lived here.
K: Do you have I few more minutes? I wonder ... I don't want to keep
you longer than you have time for but last time I was talking to you I
was just mentioning a bunch of names to you.
K: To see if you remembered any and I didn't finish that list.
K: Do you mind?
K: Ok. Maybe you'd rather read them.
B: It'd be quicker maybe.
K: I put a pencil where we stopped. I wish I had something more recent
than that ... that's ...
B: Apparently this Alfred Denton is the one they named this street for.
K: Denton Street?
B: Blynn. I knew him very well.
K: What was he like?
B: Oh, Dr. Blynn, poor man. He limped badly. He had to wear a built
up shoe and he had had some kind ... he had tuberculosis and he had a
hole in his nose, went way deep in. Well, he was a minister and he used
to give sermons there on the platform. How much of a medium he was I
don't know. He got to be clerk of the place and handled all the money
and get the printing done and was clerk. We had a very nice
relationship as neighbors and friends and he preached my grandmother's
funeral service. It was excellent, beautiful, because he believed in
K: What kind of a minister was he?
B: A spiritualist minister. They made their own ministers.
K: Oh, ok. They had their own ministers?
K: Oh, ok.
B: Yah, he was a spiritualist minister and on his deathbed he turned
Catholic and his widow was so distressed.
K: Oh dear.
B: What on earth did he do that for she said and I'll be darned if she
didn't turn Catholic so she could be buried next to him in the Catholic
cemetery. (she's reading the list) Ah, here we are. Mrs. Joseph
Laughfume from New York. That is my grandfather's mother.
K: Now is she the one?
B: My grandmother's mother, Laughfume. Her husband, Joseph, was the
one who buried the Fox sisters.
K: Now what was she like ?
B: I don't know. I never met either of them. They died before I came
along. I knew Daley. He was just a Judge I think, came up the line
from down in Springfield, somewhere like that. Great beard and mustache
that went together you know. Oh, these were all old people, you see.
K: Yah. I'll have to see if I can find something more recent with
references, you know.
B: (muffled) Daley retired. He was president in 1906, yah. You've got an
awful lot of information. I don't see how you need any more, child.
Can't you write up (laughter) a thesis out of this?
K: Oh well, those are all kinds of xeroxes but I'm very inter ... I'm
interested in that, but I'm interested in that mainly as ... to give me
knowledge to be able to ask people questions. I'm really interested ...
K: ... in what people remember, you know.
B: Ooh, I see. Well, I'm going to ...
END OF INTERVIEW
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