Another Myth Busted
August 18, 2013 § 4 Comments
I led my first “Living the Wright Way” tour two weeks ago. Most members of the group were experienced interpreters of the Dana-Thomas House, so the tour was a “dress rehearsal” for me. When we were in the gallery, one of the group asked, “I always say that Vachel Lindsay and Carl Sandburg read their poetry here. Is that true?” I realized that I too had often made that statement but had never verified it, so I started some research.
I knew from interviews and letters that Vachel Lindsay, Springfield’s renowned poet, was a friend of Susan, but I couldn’t say that Sandburg was a guest in the Lawrence House with complete assurance. Unfortunately, my research revealed that Carl Sandburg probably did not appear at the house.
Sandburg’s words were familiar to Springfield citizens. His poetry was often quoted in the Springfield newspapers, and in 1918 he briefly became what we now call a foreign correspondent for Springfield’s State Journal. Leaving the staff of the Chicago Daily News, Sandburg traveled to Norway and Sweden to report the news from Germany and Russia to a number of American newspapers (including the Journal) which had formed a syndicate. When he returned to the States, he continued to file news stories from and about Chicago in Springfield papers. However, he did not visit Springfield until November 26, 1921.
By 1921 Carl Sandburg was an international celebrity. As one of America’s leading poets, he charmed audiences all over the world. He did not disappoint Springfield on that Saturday afternoon when, under the auspices of the Springfield Woman’s Club, he presented a lecture, poetry recitations, and folk songs at the Young Women’s Christian Association auditorium. That evening Sandburg gave readings at Springfield’s two facilities for disabled veterans. According to the newspapers, he was a house guest of Vachel Lindsay and his mother that week-end. I could find no other accounts of visits to Springfield by the famed poet.
When I concluded in earlier posts that John Phillip Sousa did not visit the Lawrence house (click here) and most Frank Lloyd Wright designed furniture never left the house (click here), I realized that just because stories have been passed down for years, they are not necessarily true. I wonder what myth I’ll bust next!