Emily was 22 that year and her David was 34. Census records show Emily Bond Anderson born 23 October 1914 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, and David Lee Stewart born 14 February, 1902 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Our prose prone Carolina gentleman was born on Valentine’s Day!
On Wednesday, August 12, 1936 at 1:00am, when David wrote his 5-page sonnet for Emily, he had already celebrated his birthday in February, and his Emily was waiting to turn 22 that upcoming October. David Lee was 12 years and 8 months older than Emily Bond.
David’s neatly written, tidily folded, 5-page sonnet was safely tucked inside of a copy of Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This particular edition is believed to have been published around 1932.
On page 14 of the book’s introduction, Mr. David Stewart has underlined in red:
- “There is, of course, no Portuguese original for them.”
- “had called her his ‘little Portuguese.’ It has been suggested that this may have been the origin of the purposely misleading title.”
- “the finest Sonnets written in any language since Shakespeare’s.”
The book was given by David Stewart to Emily Bond Anderson with “Best Wishes for Valentine’s Day.” This might suggest that Dave, Davey, David, Dada diddle cheeks is underlining these phrases in red to emphasize his admiration for Emily, Em, Emsters, Eba darling’s talents as well as his devoted love for her. Perhaps like Robert Browning’s for Elizabeth Bennett.
Then again, he did only send “Best Wishes,” and not, “all my love,” or some other gooey sentiment.
Using red pen might be due to Valentine’s Day, or might also be an emphasis on 1930’s mansplaining to settle a point or disagreement.
Either way, I think that Mr. Stewart went to a lot of trouble to get attention from Miss Bond Anderson. I prefer to think that our pal David was nervously attempting to express his deep regard for beautiful Emily.
He uses full names in the inscription:
TO Emily Bond Anderson FROM David Stewart WITH Best Wishes for Valentine's Day
He uses red pen on Valentine’s Day for “TO,” “FROM,” and “WITH.” His writing is very straight, cursive, neat and precise. His cursive capital letters at the beginning of the proper nouns are just textbook lovely.
I bet David wore a tie, matching vest, and pleated ballooned out in the frontage area pants when he delivered the book. I bet she had on a well-appointed dressed-for-work outfit of matching untucked belted blouse/skirt when she answered the door. I bet they had a lot of fun and trying times figuring each other out but never reaching the thankfully elusive I-know-everything-about-you times of boredom. I bet they had days they wished could last forever and days they wished they could forget. I hope that they mostly had ultimately satisfactory lives full of love.
Let’s choose mischievous green eyes for both. Darker brown hair for our David and reddish brown hair for our Emily.
Census records show both David and Emily coming from farming families with neighbors like Hill, Crickmore, Pittman, Bryan, Pope, Gavin, Price, and the Hunters. The Hunters are listed as a black family with a grandmother and granddaughter (6 years younger than David) named “Nellie.”
to be continued…
Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo
I tear up every time I look at this inscription. Is it tear worthy? Is it the intention or mandala-type impermanence that hits me? Fleeting feelings? Teeny tiny moments of a sparkle of life? Most likely my imagination gone rogue once again.
Also, today is MotherHerisme’s birthday! She is 77!