FATHER AND THE DRUNKEN WEAVER
Kelland wrote a biography sketch of his father in the January 15, 1950 THIS WEEK magazine. A condensed version appeared in the April 1950 edition of the "Reader's Digest". Here are the first few paragraphs:
A DRUNKEN weaver in Manchester, England, determined my way of earning a livelihood some twenty-odd years before I was born. My father was one of a family of weavers whose circumstances were such that he was compelled to go to work in the mills at the age of six. His task was attending a carding machine, but he was so tiny a fellow that he had to stand upon a box to watch the frame. His hours of labor were from six o'clock in the evening until six o'clock in the morning, and I have tried to imagine his childish weariness And his terrors as he stood in the great, shadowed, ill-lighted space waiting for morning and release to come.
At the machine next to my father's worked a broken-down, drunken weaver who had become so useless in his trade that he could only perform the ,same duties allotted to a child of six, but to this regrettable rum pot I owe a debt not to be measured M terms of material commodities.
He must have been a man of amazing memory. Somehow and somewhere he had read many books and seen many plays, doubtless sitting for the latter in the topmost gallery. And what he read or saw he remembered, not in substance alone but apparently word for word. Because through those interminable nights he told or recited to my, father the plays of Shakespeare, the novels of Scott and Dickens and Thackeray. In the exact language of Burton he gave to my father The Arabian Nights. I know it was the exact language because, long before I knew that The Arabian Nights might be found in the printed word, my father recited them to me. So that when I came to read them the text was familiar.
Here was my father,, pricking his little fingers on the teasers of his carding frame, not realizing that his baby mind was being educated in the literature of England ' It was all the education he ever received, with the exception of six scant months in school. But it gave to him a love of reading and a love of the theater and a wife, if not a selective knowledge of literature and drama.
So, when I was a baby, my father did for me what the old weaver had done for him. He told me the same tales and, because he had become a buyer of books, read me the same novels and poems and histories. I was well along in life-perhaps nine or ten-before I knew there were books written especially for children. But by that time I had read, or he or mother had read to me, all of Dickens, of Thackeray and Scott, Shakespeare, Pope, Meredith, George Eliot, Miss Mulock, the now-neglected John Halifax, Gentleman and even Don Quixote.
And thus it was made inevitable that I should t to tell stories and that the written should become more important to me than; anything else in life."
Kelland was president of the famous New York City Dutch Treat Club from 1929 - 1941. "A picked body of active agents in the production and dissemination of literature, art, music and drama in New York."
During a large dinner party one evening, Clarence Kelland, serving as toastmaster, rose to speak at the end of the meal:
"Gentlemen," he began, "the obvious duty of a toastmaster is to be so infernally dull that the succeeding speakers will appear brilliant by contrast..." An appreciative chuckle arose from the speakers' table. "However," Kelland continued, brandishing a list of speakers, "I've looked over the list and I don't believe I can do it!" ody>
Clarence Budington "Bud" Kelland
From Find A Grave .com
(Note erroneous birth year!)