JIM O'HARE Responds: for sure, Harper Lee summered in Saltaire at least one summer. I can't, but somebody should recall the house she rented. She was a short, unassuming lady who used to fish for snappers on the dock, especially by the sluiceway. Bamboo pole, hook, line and bobber, little bucket.
The summer I recall her being down was after the book was published; perhaps she had been down earlier summers, but I doubt it. The novel was published in summer 1960 so it was probably 1961 that she was in Saltaire. She was well known by then, but did not socialize in Saltaire, except perhaps with the little kids fishing for snappers alongside her. You might ask Sally Standard, because I recall her getting a paperback copy of To Kill a Mockingbird signed by Ms. Lee. ---JOH
Merry Wetherall remembers her too:
Mothers are always right. Harper Lee did spend at least a few days in Saltaire. I was working in the Saltaire Sweet Shoppe as it was known way back then and she came in for breakfast on a Sunday morning. I cooked her fried eggs and bacon.I think she had a cast on her foot. She was very soft spoken and very friendlyI think it was the summer of 1962
---- Cousins are always right, too, Cosmo. --JOH
Frank McManus a dubious source?? How much more of a dubious source could Cosmo be??Shame on you Cosmo for not believing your mother. Don't you know that mother's are always right??
Regarding the subject of Harper Lee - yes, she did spend a summer or two in Saltaire as did Calvin Trillin(a/k/a "Buddy"). The time frame I do not believe the date of '60-'61 due to Jim stating that the book was only publised in '60. Merry is much closer to the date and it could possibly been as late as '64 that she was there. Cap'n Al always engaed her in conversation while she was fishing on the dock(and contrary - or in addition to) she spent a great deal of time fishing for snappers right under the red light that used to sit on the dock in front of the Fire Islander. Cap'n Al always addressed her as "Heart of Dixie" as she was a native of Alabama. As Merry stated her demeanor was very quiet and laid back. I place her in Saltaire around '63-'64 in that I always saw her when Cap'n Shimmer would talk while she was fishing after the ferry came in -I understand that she is working on a new work which she intends to title "To Kill a Dogfish" - Cosmo, I believe is the target.
A sidelight to the red lamp post on the dock - - One night the summer of 1968 I was on the airshuttle out of LaGuardia to Boston. As the plane climbed out of LaGuardia over LI Sound the pilot remarked that in all his years of flying he'd never seen such a clear night. I was seated at a window on the starboard(right) side of the plane. I looked out, and knowing the topography of LI I was actually able to see the red light on the Saltiare dock.
It's great that we can all remember absolutely inane things that happened 40-50 years ago and we can't remember what we had for breakfast today(I, however DO remember - it was 1/2 of a Maple Pecan rotisserie chicken and some Gatorade).
JOH: how is that for failing memories? After 45 years we can't even get it straight where she hung out? Beav sez under the red light-- JOH sez by the sluiceway. Somebody is losing it bad. That is why we need some new blood on this blog. --JOH
Lets fabricate a new rumor: that Harper Lee used Oliver Hull as the inspiration for the great Boo Radley.
JON LYON CLEARS IT ALL UP:
If only we had still been reading New Yorker regularly instead of wasting our time on the internet, most of our questions would have been answered. Only thing is: in those days Andy Logan was writing the Saltaire column for the FI News, and she never told us Harper Lee was there.
At any rate, here's Jon:
Jon Lyon Sez:
I'm not sure if you folks are aware (but the following might also may explain why Harper Lee spent time in Saltaire):
As the story goes (and it must be so because as a recent New Yorker profile on Harper Lee tells us so):
Joy and Michael Brown were friends of Harper Lee, not sure how the friendship began. But in the late 50's Lee was not very accomplished, nor moneyed, and I believe also suffered from snide asides from the likes of Truman Capote. She did have some "novel" ideas however. Joy and Michael underwrote her room, board and living expenses for a year. During that time To Kill a Mocking Bird was born.
It is no exaggeration to say that without Joy and Michael, and someone mentioned an "Atticus Finch" it might have been construed as as a bird who liked to live in garrets.
My own HL Saltaire story is that as a youngster, and when the movie was fresh, they showed TKMB at the Tuesday Club movie. And this was at the time when about the only movies we could get were circa 1947 (now deservingly popular with the Hugh Thursday nighters). Any event I had the wherewithal at the youngster's age to wonder (or marvel) at the possibility that HL might be sitting on the used-to-be back bench, watching her movie. Real Speychial. (Uh, oh. Methinks starting a new thread here.)
I remember when the YC showed TKAM too. The scene near the end when the kids were walking home in the dark and attacked scared the hell out of me, and everybody else. But unless we ran that movie in 1964 — the year HL rented out there — it’s unlikely she was sitting in the back. (Actually, I think she was running the concession stand under the red-and-white canopy.)
Harry Scanlan: She lived on the southeast corner of Lighthouse and West walk which was then a small cinderblock house. The house now is thw Harnick abode aka Barbara Barrie ( an actress of renown - but probably to her chagrin known to our generation as Barney Millers wife ) - 301 West Walk.
Wikipedia confirms John Lyons's story:
Having written several long stories, Harper Lee located an agent in November 1956. The following month at the East 50th townhouse of her friends Michael Brown and Joy Williams Brown, she received a gift of a year's wages with a note: "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas." Within a year, she had a first draft. Working with J. B. Lippincott & Co. editor Tay Hohoff, she completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959. Published July 11, 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate bestseller and won great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It remains a bestseller with more than 30 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted "Best Novel of the Century" in a poll by the Library Journal.
Billy Cunningham adds: Bill Cunningham has sent you a link to a blog: Excellent collaboration on HL/TKAM. The Academy lives on in Saltaire--as long as there are enough of us to get most of the story straight! Happy Thanksgiving.