"ISCHIA & CHAUTAUQUA"
BLANCHE TRASK
writes to
WILLIS JEPSON:
Letter of July 31, 1908



July 31, 1908
Avalon, CA ["Ischia"]

Jepson Correspondence Volume 5: page 340-341.

Dear Jepson

"The other day I happened to open the pamphlet descriptive of the Chautauqua which was held at Long Beach: it had - of course - for some time lain among the papers on the library table. A few minutes previously I had been wondering if I would know you if I Ever saw you again! Because the world is more and more of a dream to me and i forget to remember faces! The spirit is never obscured. Well already you must anticipate the answer to my idle questioning - for I came acrss 'Dr. W. L. Jepson's picture in that pamphlet: & I instantly cried" 'It is not'! & almost with joy gazed upon your features which grace the divine's name. I use the word 'grace' with meaning - for had you looked like the divine we would never have attempted even 'the Hay Press.' One impression remains with me from first to last: a singular youthfulness which I - someway - had never connected with my conception of W L Jepson. Well - I only wish you had seen my tree! and few other things! Perhaps - sometime - we may" but you ought to write in advance: that would facilitate matters: that is if I were on the Island. My daughter is expected today: they write she is looking very well, Thank you for your kind letter. I feel myself interested afresh in acorns: & if time and conditions go hand in hand - you shall receive some packets."

"Most truly"


Preliminary Analysis of the Letter
by
Robert Roy van de Hoek
December 2000

Blanche Trask, poet-explorer-naturalist, did most of her California wild nature exploration and writing on the Channel Islands of Southern California. She was a resident of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County, California from 1895 to 1915. Her time on Catalina spanned 20 years. Her winter home was located next to the Tuna Club in Avalon, but she also had a summer home at the Isthmus where the Institute of Environmental Studies of USC is currently located. However, she did travel to the deserts of the west as well and we know this through her correspondence such as in the following letter. She corresponded with professors and scientists at UC Berkeley, Harvard University, the Smithsonian, and at the California Academy of Sciences in San Franciso. For example, Willis Linn Jepson, was Professor of Botany at the University of California (Berkeley) with a PhD with several books on botany published. About a dozen letters were written to Doctor Jepson, and one of those letters is presented below. The deep friendship to Willis Jepson is evident as well as is her affection for the ocean and the islands.

In this letter, we note several things about Blanche Trask. For example:
1. She traveled to the mainland occasionally to Long Beach Libary.
2. She had a new home at Ischia.
3. Her daughter visits her.
4. She is interested in acorns, therefore Oak Trees.
5. She refers to "her tree" which means the Trask Mahogany.
6. Her joy in seeing a photo of Willis Jepson suggests romance?
7. She wrote this letter just two weeks after Jepson visited Catalina and Blanche Trask was his guide to find trees.

From other letters written to Jepson, we learn that she did appreciate the desert scenery of the southwest but the California Channel Islands is her "sense of place." The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island

Blanche Trask wrote this letter on April 9, 1904. The above letter was compiled and analyzed by Robert Roy van de Hoek for educational purposes in recognition of the 92nd year anniversary of this letter being written.

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