Letter of September 1, 1899

compiled by
Robert Roy van de Hoek
December 2000

Santa Catalina Island
Camp La Palama
September 1, 1899

My Dear Mr. Lummis

How your uplifted
voice for the Indian home
is echoed here in these
wilds by every "toothless"
old "crag" and lying in my
blankets on their old Indian
grounds night after night
.... old shades which still follow
low the moon waves
your name.

In the black of the Indian mound
the abalones shine -
Broken rays of light
which in an age the divine.
Heaps and heaps of shells
with implements of stone
and trinkets ... and ornaments
carved from many a bone -
At night the old seawinds
which ... the mounds do waves
Are chanting still - I hear them
That under lay of "home."

Very truely, Blanche Trask

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 (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. She corresponded with professors and scientists at UC Berkeley, Harvard University, the Smithsonian, and at the California Academy of Sciences in San Franciso. She also corresponded with Charles Lummis, editor of the Land of Sunshine, a literary magazine. One of those letters presented below, was written to Charles Lummis, but from a place called Camp La Palama, on Catalina Island. It is unclear what Blanche Trask meant by LA PALAMA as a geographical location, but here are some possibilities.
1. Camp Palama may be one of the tents of the tent city of Avalon.
2. Camp Palama could be a hotel, but the current La Palama was built after Blanche Trask death.
3. Camp Palama could be near the waterfall on Cottonwood Creek between Little Harbor and Ben Weston Beach.

Blanche Trask wrote this letter on September 1, 1899 and it is after several of her poems and prose articles had already been published by Charles Lummis. The above narrative and letter was written and compiled by Robert Roy van de Hoek for educational purposes in recognition of the 96th year anniversary of this letter being written.

The original letter is on file at the Southwest Museum of Los Angeles in the Charles Lummis Manuscript Collection (MS.1) under the correspondence: Blanche Trask, 1899-1905, Folder Number MS.1.1.4366. I thank the Southwest Museum for their assistance in archiving the letters and for help in finding the letters.

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