Walter Chandler Finds Out On His Way to Harlem

We are still dealing with snow and ice dam issues on the roof. The spouse has now joined me in the land of pain, so we are both hobbling about. My husband has a heart problem that has to be watched due to possible infection leading to heart damage, which also threw us for a loop last week. We thought it had settled down and it got worse. He has to see a cardiologist in three weeks.

What can you do but utter the magic sentence “It was a bad week” and get on with it? Hopefully a better week upcoming.

There is a new biography of Duke Ellington out but my library doesn’t have it so I’ll have to wait a year to order it in on inter-library loan. Who knows, we might not be in this town in a year’s time. Gregory Porter has a rather charming song out called On My Way to Harlem that they play on the jazz radio station, which mentions Ellington and poet Langston Hughes in the lyrics.

I first learned of Langston Hughes from the Poet’s Corner Knowledge Cards that I bought to go with my tarot decks. Many a fine draw I had pairing it with the Thoth deck back in the day when such juxtapositions were frowned upon by the in-crowd at the Jump the Shark Forum. Yes, cards taught this white Anglo-Saxon Protestant about the Harlem Renaissance. Let me reflect on the fact that Billy Strayhorn never got proper recognition for Take the A Train.

I am just not feeling up to chatter right now. Up and down, waves come and go.

Let’s have a visual at least…

Walter Chandler (1826-?)
Elizabethtown, Union County, New Jersey, 1850
Watercolor and gouache on paper, 2 3/4 x 3 1/4 in.


His son, depicted here, lived until 1924 but this is the only known work of Walter Chandler (senior) who was a farmer and whose father was a shoemaker.

This little boy grew up to be an insurance broker, commuting by train to Manhattan and eventually living in New York City for a time. He was a Mason in the Masonic Grand Lodge of New Jersey and maintained his ties to Elizabethtown all his life. Elizabethtown seems to have been the first permanent community in New Jersey and a base for people after the Revolutionary War. Business, the railroad, schools and churches grew, and made a nice little middle-class town, a comfortable place to have children and be settled.

A place where a pretty carpet in the bedroom made a cozy play area for a little boy, who grew into the next century and saw the first steps of the Harlem Renaissance.



4 thoughts on “Walter Chandler Finds Out On His Way to Harlem

    • Oh yes, they’ve got some nice collections of 100 per box these days.

      I considered getting those writers and I like the children’s book covers by Ladybird–lots of bang for a buck.

      I never did get the 100 covers from Vogue that I wanted–I think for me it,s the storage problem for these boxes. I have two boxes now and can’t find a place to put them.

      The Jump the Shark forum now has a place for postcards. It took them eight years to catch up with me. I used to do readings on there with them. One lady I remember so well, she was on the wrong path regarding job training, I knew she would be miserable and so did she. She kept asking people over and over for readings.

  1. I had several Ladybird books as a child, mostly about natural history (my favorite was “Pond Life”). Of the books in your photo, I had “Shopping with Mother” and “Things to Make”. I had completely forgotten about them until I saw the picture! Those brain cells must be the dusty ones in the back corner of the attic.

    • You’re a visual person though–I am not surprised the memory is a visual one and you needed a picture to recall it.

      So, now all you have to do is buy the set of 100 postcards. 😉

      I don’t think I owned any of these but I’m sure the school library had some. The Gingerbread Boy looked VERY familiar when I saw the cover on the Internet.

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