Daily Press from Newport News, Virginia on November 2, 1980 · Page 41
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

Daily Press from Newport News, Virginia · Page 41

Newport News, Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 2, 1980
Page 41
Start Free Trial

C3 PARKE ROUSE JR. Gloucester Had Connections With World's First Public Museum Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia, Sunday, November 2, 1980 Ever since I can remember, Teen Martin has bent my ear about two 17th 1 century Englishmen with the odd name of Tradescant pronounced Tra-DEScant. It seems they were among the first " Europeans to collect plants and animals ( from the New World to show in Europe. : . They even opened a museum in Lon-" don, back in Jamestown's time, and filled it with curiosities from Virginia. ' In fact and this interested me most one of them even came to Vir V ( I tris Of-Ji llSBp (, Mrs. Webster Rhoads and Mrs. RUSSELL BAKER Birds, Bees And Origins Of The Species NEW YORK For several days the boy had known his father intended to tell him the facts of life. He could tell by the way his father kept looking for opportunities to be alone with him and by a certain look, a look of dread in his fa- . ther's eye. He had. therefore, avoided lone contact with his father. Having attended a progressive school, the boy already knew about the fertilization of eggs, understood the varying gestation period in the different species of mammals and even knew about the vital role the corpus luteum played in sustaining the stability of embryonic development. He suspected his father had only the foggiest grasp of these matters and did not wish to see his father embarrassed by attempting a fumbling explanation which would make him seem ill-educated. And so he was appalled when, one night at the dinner table, his mother asked his father, "Have you told the boy yet?" . "Let's not discuss it over dinner," said his father. "Nonsense," said his mother. "The boy is old enough to know. Take him to his room after you've had your coffee, and tell him." Well, there was no getting out of it now. Upstairs they trudged. The boy in Sand dollars are one of the mysteries of the beach. If you wander along the shore in South Carolina, for example, you may hunt in vain. But there is always somebody who found one yesterday. That compares, in my view, with the large fish that someone caught the day before, or the lion that was on the South African trail only one day ahead of your visit. But sand dollars are found sometimes, and even in quantities. One day last December, the beach along the Padre Island National Seashore in Texas was littered with them. Most of them were tiny, but a few were of medium size, too. Old-timers in the region admitted the find was unusual. Sand dollars appeared frequently, they explained, but not often in such quantities. Maybe an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that was causing problems at the time, was the cause, maybe not. The old-timers didn't profess to know, and I certainly don't. But they were there. In a short walk, I picked up enough to fill half an egg carton which I also found washed ashore on the beach. Others in the group assembled even larger collections. The shells float ashore after the body in them dies, and they are brittle. Stick one in a jacket pocket and it will be broken in only a few minutes. So what can you do with them? Later. I saw a large sand dollar in a window display in a souvenir shop. I asked the clerk what they had done to harden it. She didn't know about that one in particular, but she said some people coated them with clear fingernail polish to preserve them. ' i ginia two or three times to collect specimens. ' ' " Teen Martin is a determined lady. Gradually she got me and other people aware of Virginia's early contributions to horticulture and zoology. She had uncovered the first roots of scientific inquiry in America and of her hobby flower gardening as well. Teen's vindication will come next June, when Governor John Dalton is invited to go to England to an international pow-wow honoring the Tra- James Bland Martin in England I : H an agony of embarrassment. The father trying to sort things out in his head so he could present the facts as cooly as possible. The door closed behind them. "Look here," said his father, "you're ' getting to be a big boy now . ."I know about the birds and bees," the boy blurted. : "Please don't interrupt," said the father. "This is very difficult and in-. terruptions will only make it harder." Silence settled between them. Then: "There's something your mother and I : have never told you," the father said. "If it's about the corpus luteum, I understand," said the boy. "I also know about the epididymis and the vas deferens.". . v . . "Oh!" said his father, who had misunderstood the boy's pronuncation. "You think there's a vast difference between these two birds, do you?". "Which birds?" said the boy. "Carter and Reagan," said the fa- , ther. The boy said he did not understand. "Of course not," said the father. "Your mother and I should have told you ages ago." He paused. How to tell the boy? Give it to him straight from the shoulder? Shock him? Or tell him slowly? "Son," he said, "do you know what next Tuesday is?". I brought that thought back to the Peninsula, but didn't do anything about it. For, in the meantime, another thought had formulated in my head. Sand dollars are an unusual souvenir, maybe even in the same league as a piece of petrified wood or oil drilling core sample. So why not have them bronzed or dipped in silver? ( I asked a few friends for advice on this, but got none. Then, I let the thing slide until a few days ago. Some years ago, while shopping in a jewelry store, I had seen a bronzed baby shoe on display. It was being used to advertise a service. So I looked up the jewelry store in the phone book and gave it a call. The clerk was helpful; she would bronze a shoe or a sock of almost anything durable, but she thought sand dollars were too fragile. She recommended trying a lamp shop which did that work. The personnel of that store also were as helpful as they could be; however, work of that kind, required special coating which they were not prepared to do. ' I asked other jewelry shops that didn't do that kind of work, and even went back to the phone book to locate a jewelry finder, whom I reasoned might know the address of a company out of the area to which I could write. If I would leave a sample with them, they would try. : , A friend in the metal business was certain a company could be found o do the work. And if they can preserve a leaf in gold, they should be able to handle a fragile sand dollar, he said. : I am still awaiting the end of' this story and, if all else fails, I can fall back on the nail polish. . descants. They were John I. who lived from about 1585 till 1638, and John II, who lived from 1608 till 1662. They seem well worth the attention they'll get. In case you don't know Teen Martin, I should explain that she's a horticultural bug who lives with her husband, attorney James Bland. Martin Jr., in Gloucester County. In the 1960s, when she was president of the Garden Club of Virginia, she got a letter from an Englishwoman who wanted to know about an explorer named John Tradescant the second, who had come to Virginia in the early 1600s. John who? Teen read it in puzzlement. But that letter, from author Mea Allan, opened Teen's horizons. She became intrigued at the thought that anybody would risk his life to sail to primitive Virginia to look for plants and animals. She began to delve in Tidewater courthouses. She read botanical histories. Finally, in 1966, she and her husband and their friends, the Webster Rhodeses, went to England to meet Mea Allan and to learn about those Tra-descants. At first they declined Miss Allen's invitation to stay with her in her 17th century cottages in Suffolk Shire. Teen Martin explained to her that Mr. Rhoads towered 6 feet 7 and would bump his head on those Elizabethan doorsills. "Nonsense," replied Mea Allan, : firmly. "I've measured the doors, and all except one are tall enough. I'll put a bottle of arnica beside that one just in cast Mr. Rhoads bumps his head." They went and loved it. The Tradescants came from rural Suffolk (the family were once tanners, hence their name, "Tread-skin"), but both father and son moved to London in the reign of James I to become gardeners for the king and nobles. On the side "Election Day," said the boy. "And do you know what Election Day means?" asked the father. "That's the day they take the latest presidential campaign public-opinion polls," said the boy. "It's more than that, Son," said the father. "That's the day the presidential campaign comes to an end." The boy was speechless for a moment. Finally, "Ends?" he said. "What do you mean, ends? Are you trying to tell me ...?" The father placed an arm around his son. "I'm telling you," he said, "that the ' presidential campaign does not go on forever, just as Mom and Dad don't go on forever, or even the trees or the biggest stars in the universe. Like everything else, the presidential campaign comes to an end." "But not in my lifetime!" cried the . boy. "On Tuesday next," said his father. "But there's always been the presi- -dential campaign," the boy whimpered. "It can't end now. I'm too young." "It's all right, Son. It's all right, 'S said the father, hugging the boy. v "It's all right for you," wept the boy. "Your life is almost over. You're old enough to remember when Ted Kennedy led Carter two to one in the polls. You saw George Bush in the old days when he had the momentum. You and , Mom once saw Philip Crane on television. I was too young for all that, and now it's all being ended just when I'm coming to manhood." "Listen, Son, listen to me," the fa- TOM WICKER Udall Running Hard TUCSON, Ariz. As he spoke to a group of senior citizens the other morning at the Oracle Villa Apartments, Mo Udall pointed to a sere brown ridge rising north of this sprawling city. One of ' the last surviving herds of bighorn sheep live in those hills, he said, and "they'll be there for your grandchildren to see"' because as chairman of the House Interior Committee, he'd been : able to include the ridge in the national wilderness system. Such claims do not come easily to Rep. Morris Udall, a 20-year congressional veteran who mounted a consistent liberal challenge to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 Democratic primaries. In his easygoing style, Udall would rather regale Tucson voters with excerpts from his immense stock of political jokes as when he told the oldsters about the palm-reader who predicted to Yasir Arafat that he would die on a Jewish holiday. they collected plants and animals for their "Closett of Rarities," which the elder Tradescant opened in his house, "The Ark," in 1626 in the South Lambeth section of London. . That was the first public museum in the world. After London was ravaged by the Great Fire of 1666, the Tradescants' collection was acquired by a wealthy man named Elias Ashmole and given to Oxford University. Though it has been known ever since as the Ashmolean Museum, the collection was the work of the Tradescants. In her book, "The Tradescants, Their Plants, Gardens, and Museum, 1570-1662," Mea Allan describes Ashmole as a bit of a fraud who took credit from others. The Garden Club of Virginia recently gave $1,000 to the Ashmolean on its 30th anniversary. Teen Martin and Lucille Rhoads were particularly interested in the Virginia items in the museum. The most famous for 300 years has been the ceremonial deerskin cloak of Chief Powhatan, which Mea Allan surmises that Tradescant Jr. acquired in Virginia in 1637. It is featured in the museum. When the Jamestown Festival tried to borrow it in 1957, the curator politely wrote that it was too fragile to send. Many other Virginia objects were originally in the collection, but most have decomposed. They included a stuffed Virginia fox, a redwing blackbird, a bluebird, a cardinal, and other things new to Europe. The Tradescants left an inventory which listed Powhatan's coat as "The King of Virginia's habit, all embroidered with shells or Roanoke." ("Roanoke" were shells used by the Powhatan Indians for currency.) Also listed were Indian garments variously made of bearskin, feathers, and "racoune" skins, plus "Virginian purses imbroid-ered with Roanoke." Especially interesting to Teen Mar- ther pleaded. "By Tuesday night there will be something wonderful to replace all that. We will have a president chosen by the people." "I don't want a president," said the boy. "I want presidential candidates, just like I've had all my life, going up and down in the polls and abusing each other on the network evening news. That's the world I grew up in. You expect me to give it all up just for a president?" "It's a law of nature." said his father. "It is a fact of life." The boy wept for a long while. And with good reason. First, to learn that there was no Santa Claus. Now they were telling him there would be no more presidential campaign. "I don't think I can live in a world without a presidential campaign," he said. "Try it for a couple of days and maybe something good will happen," his father suggested. - "Like what?" said the boy. "Well," said his father, "the way things go nowadays, the next presidential campaign will probably begin 36 hours after the polls close on Election Day." "Promise?" said the boy. "You can bet your corpus luteum on it," said his father. - 'Oh, Dad," said the boy, "don't you know anything? Boys don't have a corpus luteum." "I know," said his father, "but I've never been able to pronounce epididymis. Who do you think the front-runners will be by next weekend?" "Which one?" Arafat asked. "Any day you die is a Jewish holiday," the seer replied. But his 1980 campaign is no joke to Mo Udall; and he might have been speaking of his own race against Richard Huff, a conservative with a taste for the jugular, when he said that "a sadness I haven't seen before" seems to hang over the American people as they make their leadership choices. In the first place, time in Its indifferent cruelty may have caught up to Mo Udall. who came to Congress in 1961 as one of its brightest new faces and who has since been one of its most effective liberals, imaginative reformers and decent men. But it's an angrier, less confident country now, mouthing different values; his huge district, covering three counties, parts of two others and 650,000 people is becoming more affluent and Republican; and his majorities have been dwindling, to a mere 52.5 t " . John Tradescant II made three voyages to colonial Virginia tin and Lucille Rhoads were some 90 flowers, shrubs, and trees that John Tradescant III had brought to England from Virginia and added to international botanical lists. Some of these are still identified in the scientific world as "Virginium." Among them are dogwood, walnut, clematis, coral honeysuckle, goldenrod, wild columbine, cypress, and Virginia creeper the latter a fixture today in English gardens. One Virginia plant, the blue-flowered spiderwort, was named "tra-descantia" by the botanist, Linnaeus. Because its sensitive blue stamens turn pink when exposed to atomic leakage, it is planted as an alarm system around atomic installations. To me. as to Teen Martin, the highlight of the Tradescant story was John II's visits to Tidewater Virginia. His first, in 1637-38, was recorded by Sir Joseph Williamson, keeper of King Charles II's library. Sir Joseph wrote that "In 1637 John Tradescant was in the colony (Virginia) to gather all rarities of flowers, plants, shells, etc." Mea Allan thinks Tradescant may have stayed with Edward Digges, whose York County plantation was on the present V " WILLIAM RASPBERRY Mississippi Black Tries For First' WASHINGTON Les McLemore was in town last week to raise money for his shot at history. He's trying to become Mississippi's first black congressman since Reconstruction, and he likes his chances. It won't be quite log-cabin-to-capitol if he makes it, but it will be close. McLemore was born in Walls, Miss., an unincorporated Desoto County town of some 300, where his mother supported the family by hauling cottonpickers to the fields. He had his first flirtation with history in 1962 when, accompanied by a fieldworker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he became the first black in memory to cast a ballot in DeSoto County. (He remembers taking the precaution of notifying the Justice Department of his intentions.) Both McLemore and Mississippi have changed a lot since those days. McLemore, a student at tiny all-black Rust College when he first ventured into the voting booth, later earned a master's degree from Atlanta University and a doctorate at the University of Massachusetts. (He was doing post-doctoral study at Johns Hopkins when he met some of the people who sponsored last week's fundraiser.) The country boy from Walls is now professor and chairman of political science at Jackson State University. Mississippi has changed, too, over those years, to the point that McLemore stands a pretty good chance at becoming the first black congressman from his state since ex-slave John Roy Lynch, whose last term ended in 1883. He won't deny that luck has been a To Stay In Same Place percent in 1978. Having become one of the congressional seniors, however honorably, Udall is not free from their besetting sin; he tends to think he holds his post almost by right. Still, it is sad to see a man of such integrity, character and achievement facing the possible rejection of a constituency he has served better than it knows and particularly to the benefit of a prepackaged right-wing candidate whose substantive depth can be judged by this passage from his campaign brochure: "Udall supported implementing legislation for . . . establishing a Panama Canal Commission putting the Canal under new management Now, Central America is in turmoil and Cuban 'refugees' hijack our airlines almost at will.". In the second place, Udall announced a few weeks ago that he is suffering from Parkinson's disease and though his mind and wit and tongue are Naval Weapons Station grounds.:The house was torn down early this century. Apparently Tradescant voyaged to Virginia again in 1642, for in that year headrights to 650 acres were granted to a man of that name near Poropotank Creek in Gloucester, across the York from the Digges plantation. He may also have come again in 1654, for Charles City records of that year show a 500-acre grant to Thomas Felton for bringing over one "John Tredeskin" and nine others. Clearly, the Tradescants were among those explorers who raised England to such heights from Elizabeth I onward Drake, Hawkins, Raleigh, John Smith, and others. Our British cousins delight to honor them. That's why the Tradescant Trust will gather in June at St. Mary's "the Gardeners' Church," in London, where the founders of the "Closett of Rarities" lie buried. (Captain Bligh is buried nearby.) Fittingly enough, Mrs. Martin is the only American on the board of the Tradescant Trust, founded to save St. Mary's. Virginia's pride in the Tradescants is also recorded in a window in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, given by the Garden Club of Virginia in 1926. Its inscription translates: "The Virginians, whose delight is in planting, honor this man through whose efforts their native leafage decks our English gardens." Well said! I hope Governor Dalton will accept England's invitation to honor these rediscovered "brothers of the spade." And while there, I hope he'll attend a celebration honoring John Smith, some of whose Virginia finds are also in the Ashmolean. As for Teen Martin and Lucille Rhoads, I trust they're pleased that so many of us have learned what a Tradescant is. We even know how to pronounce them: TraDEScant. That's right. Pomment major factor. He didn't even decide to enter the congressional race as an independent until another black man, Henry Kirksey. had lost a Democratic primary runoff to Britt Singletary. The Republican incumbent, conservative Jon Hinson, was unopposed in the primary. Then came Hinson's August revelation that he had been one of the survivors of the fatal 1977 fire at the Cinema Follies, a Washington club catering to homosexuals. That startling announcement prompted the entry of another independent, John Wayne Mcl-nenerny, into the race. The result is that McLemore is now pitted against three white men in a district where 40 percent of the registered voters are black. As he sees it, his only problem is to get out the black vote. He insists, though, that he is not running a race-based campaign. His campaign issues range from welfare reform and senior-citizen programs to energy conservation and nuclear safety. He supports the re-election of President Carter. McLemore, tall, slim and prematurely white-haired at age 40, says he pitches his campaign to "all the people," but he admits that the controversy surrounding the recent police shooting of a pregnant black woman in Jackson has served to get blacks of the district interested in the election. "Of course that helps me," he says. "With the white vote split two or three ways, I figure we need about 65 percent of the registered black vote to win. I don't see why we can't accomplish that." as sharp as ever, his movements plainly reflect its debilitating effect. To his credit, Huff has made no public .reference to Udall's health, and Udall aides think the matter is so far "a wash it won't help or hurt"; but to old friends, the physical effect is nevertheless apparent The last Udall poll showed him with about 52 percent of the vote, but that depends on a big Mexican-American turnout as well as a sizable Republican crossover ("All you Republican sinners and independents repent and help me," he frequently quips). Mo Udall's campaign against what The Arizona Star called "sleazy" opposition, as well as against progressive disease is saddening. Here under the harsh brown mountains he helped to maintain untouched, it's hard to evade the sense of something decent on the wane in American politics. ! A-

What members have found on this page

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 19,100+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the Daily Press
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free