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Saturday 5 September 2015

All-American Rugger Bert 'Stubby' Stolz, the Snark, Oakland's Jack London, his Typewriter and the Hawaiian Leper Cowboy

Oakland author Jack London (1876-1916, seated right), his wife and self-proclaimed "typewriter" Clara Charmian Kittredge London (1871-1955), and the then 20-year-old US rugby union player and "ship's engineer" Herbert Rowell "Stubby" Stolz (1886-1971, second from left) on London's $30,000 45-foot sailboat, the Snark, before she headed off for Hawaii in April 1907. On the left is Charmian's foster-father and uncle, the Snark's "navigator" Roscoe Lorenzo Eames (1846-1931), a typewriter instructor and prolific author of books on shorthand. Standing between Charmian and London is Kansas adventurer Martin Elmer Johnson (1884-1937).
From left, Charmian and Jack London, Martin Johnson
and Bert Stolz on the Snark.
According to Charmian London in her 1921 book Jack London (by "Mrs Jack London), she and London and others of the "Piedmont crowd" relaxed before the Snark voyage by attending rugby union matches of a Sunday the University of California's California Field, Berkeley.
Charmian had dubbed crew members the "Snarkites". The Snark was named after Lewis Carroll's 1874-76 poem The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in 8 Fits) and London's cruise inspired by Joshua Slocum's pioneering 1895-98 single-handed, around-the-world voyage in his sloop The Spray.
"And yet, at the moment of writing this, Charmian is in her state-room at the typewriter, Martin [Johnson] is cooking dinner, [Hidehisa] Tochigi is setting the table, Roscoe [Eames] and Bert [Stolz] are caulking the deck, and the Snark is steering herself some five knots an hour in a rattling good sea"
- Jack London in The Cruise of the Snark
By all accounts, Charmian London was an expert typist, capable of more than 100 words a minute. Her mother, Dayelle "Daisy" Wiley Kittredge, had died, aged 30, a month before Charmian's sixth birthday, and Charmian was then raised by her mother's sister, editor Ninetta, wife of Roscoe Eames. In the prologue to her 1921 work The Book of Jack London, Charmian said that in her 14th year (1885) she determined to take "a hand in my own maintenance". She learned to type and "mastered" her uncle and foster father's system of "light-line shorthand", to the extent that she was able to assist him in teaching.
"Typing was the one arena in which her chronic self-doubt could not win; she could not deny the physical presence of pages of perfect type. She had a basis for self-pride that neither she nor anyone else ... could deny her."
Charmian London then went on to work her way through Susan Tolman Mills' College, becoming Mills' secretary. Mills (1826-1912) was co-founder of what began in 1852 as the Young Ladies Seminary at Benicia, California, and was taken over by Susan and Cyrus Mills in 1866, before being moved to Oakland in 1877. By 1890 Charmian was employed as a stenographer for Harding & Forbes, a San Francisco company run by August Harding, Reinhardt T. Harding and Charles H. Forbes which manufactured electric goods and was also a law firm.
"Charmian had much to recommend her to London's notice. She was intelligent and forthright and articulate in expressing her opinions ... She had a sharp editorial eye, having helped her aunt Ninetta in editing the Overland Monthly - in which capacity she developed almost unbelievable speed and accuracy on a typewriter."
In 1900, when she first met Jack London, Charmian described herself as being a shorthand typist with "a big San Francisco shipping and commission firm", earning "bed and board, party gowns, the services of Hannah, the immaculate Swedish maid, not to mention fodder and stabling for my beautiful saddle mare". Charmian actually listed herself in that year's census as a magazine writer (for the Overland Monthly) and also served as a secretary for Jack London's British-born MacMillan publisher, George Platt Brett (1858-1936). 
One historian wrote that Charmian took a Remington portable typewriter with her on board the Snark in April 1907, which would have been quite astonishing, given no Remington portable was sold before October 1920. Jack London took a Smith-Premier with him on a cruise with Cloudesley Johns on the Spray in October 1903, and has also been linked to a Standard Folding portable, which reached the market in June 1907, two months after the Snark had left Oakland. So what typewriter did the Londons use in the stateroom of the Snark, producing up to 1000 words a day on a strict daily schedule of two hours writing?
This photo, in which Charmian has lifted the Remington 7's carriage so Jack can read what she has typed, appeared in the Sydney Evening News on June 20, 1908, the day after the couple had reached Suva in Fiji on the Snark. It is believed that Martin Johnson took the photographs. Bert Stolz was originally to be the cruise photographer, but as with his engineering, that apparently didn't work out.
It was a Remington standard, a No 7, just like this one:

Starting with The Sea-Wolf in the autumn of 1903, Charmian typed everything London wrote for publication. In The Book of Jack London (1921), she explained: "At times, but rarely, he would treat himself to a holiday, perhaps to read aloud a book that had claimed him for the moment, or to take some special jaunt. But the fingers of one hand could easily tally the days when he failed to deliver ten pages of hand-written manuscript to my typewriter desk. It was my custom to have his previous day's installment, typed and words counted, in readiness upon his table by nine. He loved to read me his morning's work - and even in the writing of it, if I happened to pass by, would interrupt himself to let me share what he had done. The first writing day, in all our days, that this did not happen, was the first day upon which he wrote no more."
Six years after the Snark's voyage, Bert "Stubby" Stolz, circled above, was to face a challenge even more ferocious than the Pacific Ocean. He played for the United States "All-America" rugby union team against New Zealand's mighty All Blacks at California Field, Berkeley, on November 15, 1913. Stolz started playing rugby at Stanford University in 1905, the year California abandoned American football for rugby. He was a member of the Olympic club, the "Winged-Os" of San Francisco.
The US Eagles meet Antipodean opposition again today, when they tackle the Australian Wallabies at Soldier Field, Chicago. Bert Stolz missed the 1912 Test match against the Wallabies because he was playing for Oxford University in England and, according to Californian newspaper reports of the time, under consideration for selection to represent England in rugby union.

uite what possessed Herbert Rowell "Stubby" Stolz (1886-1971) to join Jack London's crew on the Oakland author's sailboat the Snark for a scheduled seven-year cruise across the globe, starting on April 23, 1907, must remain anyone's guess. At the same time, it's impossible to fathom quite why London would have wanted Bert Stolz on board his yacht in the first place, other than that London considered Stolz to be an excellent "all-round athlete". The two met at Overland Monthly editor Netta Eames’ country house, Wake Robin Lodge, in the woods bordering Graham and Sonoma creeks, in the summer of 1906. Apparently London took an instant liking to the Stanford University medical student, track athlete and rugby union player, and just assumed Stolz could "rise to the occasion and teach himself engine repair" while the Snark was on the briny. Convinced he might be of use, Stolz left Redlands for Oakland that autumn and from March 1907, London had him sleeping on the Snark's deck to guard against vandalism as the sailboat underwent final preparations on the Alameda Estuary. But in the course of many delays, Stolz more than once had second thoughts about the undertaking.
Some of the works which mention Stolz's involvement on the first leg of the Snark's voyage, from Oakland to Hawaii, suggest Stolz had actually graduated with an engineering degree from Stanford, leading London to believe he would be able to keep the Snark's 70-horsepower Century auxiliary engine, built by the New York Yacht, Launch and Engine Company at Morris Heights in The Bronx, running smoothly. The truth, whatever London may have allowed himself to believe, or had been led to believe, was a long from that: Stolz was still studying physiology and had no engineering skills, experience or indeed qualifications. Still, Stolz had shown his stamina and mettle in other areas: In his second year at Stanford, he had dug fellow students out of the rubble at Encina Hall after the April 18, 1906, San Francisco earthquake. Then, as an assistant to Stanford's geology professor John Casper Branner, he had to re-shelf the 8000 books in Branner's office in the wake of the quake.  
Reads like a Typewriter Revolution letter! After the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906, Jack London was feeling the pinch when he wrote to Laurence William Rice (1867-1923) of the United Gas Improvement Company of Philadelphia. At that stage he still planned to set sail in October 1906, but the Snark voyage was to be put back another six months. Glen Ellen is now the Jack London State Historic Park, also known as the Jack London Home and Ranch, situated on the eastern slope of Sonoma Mountain.
Not surprisingly, as London's typewriting wife Charmian pointed out in her first log book entry, on April 25, two days into the voyage, a smaller, five horse-power engine was being used, "pumping juice into the storage batteries". By the time the Snark had reached Honolulu, 27 days out from Oakland, Stolz had had his fill of sailing. In what appears to have been mutual agreements, Stolz and another crew member, Hidehisa ("Paul") Tochigi (1884-; Charmian had called him an "alleged cabinboy", and a very seasick one at that) left the Snark and the Londons, and had returned to California. This first great adventure in Stolz's adult life had lasted a little less than a month. But what an adventure he'd had in those few weeks at sea - he was perhaps fortune to even make it in one piece to Honolulu! London later wrote:
Bert Stolz on the Snark.
"Bert took a dip daily under the bowsprit, hanging on to the stays and dragging his body through the water.  And daily he canvassed the project of letting go and having a decent swim.  I did my best to dissuade him.  But with him I had lost all standing as an authority on sea life.
"'If there are sharks,' he demanded, "why don’t they show up?"
"I assured him that if he really did let go and have a swim the sharks would promptly appear. This was a bluff on my part.  I didn’t believe it. It lasted as a deterrent for two days.  The third day the wind fell calm, and it was pretty hot.  The Snark was moving a knot an hour. Bert dropped down under the bowsprit and let go. And now behold the perversity of things. We had sailed across 2000 miles and more of ocean and had met with no sharks. Within five minutes after Bert finished his swim, the fin of a shark was cutting the surface in circles around the Snark."
At first perplexed by the appearance of this shark in what he assumed (without the assistance of a competent navigator) was the middle of the ocean, London soon realised it "was the messenger of the land".
 Roscoe Lorenzo Eames, right, with Charmian and Jack London at Oakland.
At least superficially, it would seem the parting of the ways with Stolz and Tochigi, who was just a year older than Stolz, was amicable - London only protested mildly on being given Stolz's letter of resignation. That certainly wasn't the case with the Snark's original navigator, Roscoe Lorenzo Eames, who with his wife Ninetta Wiley ("Netta") Eames (1852-1944) had raised Charmian London - Roscoe had also taught Charmian to use a typewriter. Whatever skills Roscoe Eames may have had as a magazine business manager (with his wife as editor of Overland Monthly), a stenographer and a typewriter and shorthand teacher  at Hanford Union High School (Eames had published the Text-book on Light-Line Shorthand in 1883), he had none as a seafarer, notwithstanding him having been born in Maine and having given London the impression he was an experienced old salt. 
London was deeply upset with Eames' on-board ineptitude and upon arrival in Hawaii, Eames was promptly sent packing back to the corner of Parker and Fulton streets, Berkeley. He had been officially sacked just 12 days into the cruise, and had spent 15 days more or less confined below decks until Honolulu was reached. London said Eames was "no more a seaman than I am an Egyptian dancing girl". Not satisfied with that comparison, London went on to tell Netta Eames that her husband was incompetent, a shirker, a whiner and a demoraliser of the rest of the crew. Yet Bert Stolz had no doubt become demoralised all of his own accord. The Snark was leaking from a few days into the cruise, the engine was spluttering, the fuel tanks fouled and the toilet (head) was out of use from day one. On one occasion Stolz made the mistake of leaving a sea cock in the engine room open, which could have ended the voyage right then and there. All of which added to the discomfit of Stolz, at 5ft 8in sharing a small cabin with the 6ft tall Johnson and Tochigi in bunks that were a mere 5ft 5in long.
Roscoe Eames is seated on the right, beside Charmian and Jack London, at the wheel. On the left is Bert Stolz.
To compound all this, upon docking in Honolulu, Stolz was handed a letter from his mother, Dr Mary Adelaide Rowell Stolz (1853-1932), in which she urged her son to abandon the cruise and return to his studies at Stanford. Though born at Waimea, Kauaʻi, the daughter of a New Hampshire Protestant missionary, George Berkeley Rowell, Mary had some very unpleasant memories of Hawaii.
Whatever impression Stolz left on London, Martin Johnson was to write positively about Stolz's athleticism. "Stolz certainly lived up to his description ... a stronger fellow for his years I have never seen anywhere, nor one so possessed of energy. If sheer strength counts for anything, Stolz is a fellow who will never want for much." Johnson said London had found, "from experience, that Bert knew every trick in boxing [he was to be a Stanford and Oxford middleweight champion]. He was really more than I expected by Jack's description of him - as an 'all-round athlete'." There are claims that after Stolz returned to California, newspapers reported accusations of bullying against London, stories which went unchallenged by Stolz. As well, Stolz is said to have expressed some disappointment and anger to journalists. I cannot find any evidence of such articles.
Whatever the truth about the allegations, Bert Stolz left Jack London with one invaluable gift - a story about his own father's death, in Hawaii. London would turn it into one of his more notable, if controversial, short stories - "Koolau the Leper".
As the crew of the Snark whiled away the time during the cruise to Honolulu, sometimes fishing or playing cards and listening to phonograph records, Stolz regaled London with the tale of how Buenos Aires-born Louis Herbert Stolz, a Brooklyn-raised teacher and sugar planter, was murdered by a former pupil, a "cowboy" horse breaker and expert shot called Kaluaikoʻolau, at Kalalau Valley on June 27, 1893, sparking the Leper War on Kauaʻi (aka the Koolau Rebellion and the Battle of Kalalau) from July 1–13, 1893. Louis Stolz, deputised as a sheriff, had attempted to force an isolated leprosy colony to be deported to Kalaupapa on the island of Molokaʻi. 
Kaluaikoʻolau, far right, with his wife Piʻilani, far left, their son Kaleimanu, and Kaluaikoʻolau's mother, Kukui Kaleimanu.
From Hawaii the Snark continued through the South Pacific to the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu before reaching the Solomons on June 27, 1908. Because they were suffering seriously from a range of tropical infections and illnesses, Jack and Charmian London left the Solomon Islands on November 5 and came on to Australia aboard a steamer, the Makambo, arriving in Brisbane on November 11, 1908, and Sydney on November 14. They were admitted to the St Malo Private Hospital run by Nurse Gertrude Walker on Ridge Street, North Sydney. Most of their ailments were successfully treated, except for Jack's psoriasis of the hands, which had prevented him from writing. Nonetheless, straight after being released, on Boxing Day 1908, Jack covered the Jack Johnson-Tommy Burns world heavyweight boxing championship bout at the Sydney Stadium at Rushcutter's Bay for William Randolph Hearst's newspapers. He did so on condition that Charmian would be allowed to sit beside him at ringside, even though women were barred from the arena. Some reports say Charmian went in disguise, but this is most unlikely to be the case, as they were both greeted with a "great cheer" when they took their places at ringside. Charmian was even asked to comment on the fight, in which Johnson became the first African-American to win the world heavyweight title.
Jack and Charmian were at ringside, below
Jack and Charmian had already made the heart-breaking decision to abandon their cruise, on December 8. Martin Johnson was sent back to the Solomons to bring the Snark to Sydney. He left Aola on January 27, 1909, and reached Sydney on March 5, after 36 days at sea. After experiencing some difficulties because of their socialist views, the Londons slipped out of Australia in secret, making a hurried decision to book passage on a rusty Scottish collier, the Tymerie, out of Newcastle on April 8, 1909, bound for Guayaquil in Ecuador. They eventually got home to San Francisco in June 1909. Back in Sydney the Snark was sold to Justus Scharff Ltd for $4500 in October 1910 and remained tied up in Sydney Harbour until 1913.
Jack London photographed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1909
Meanwhile, back at Stanford - and elsewhere - Bert Stolz had made much progress in his own life, as this Oakland Tribune front page picture story about a reunion of the Snark crew survivors, from November 7, 1931, suggests:
Herbert Rowell Stolz, born on August 20, 1886, at Waimea, Kauaʻi, was aged just six when his 35-year-old father was killed. Immediately after the murder, Bert Stolz's mother returned with her two surviving children (four had died in childhood) to New York, where she studied medicine in the Medical College and Hospital for Women of the Homeopathic School. She graduated in 1897 with the degree of MD. She practised for three years in Brooklyn before deciding to make her home in Redlands, California, in 1902. She engaged in practise as a homeopathic physician in general practise.
Bert Stolz, who had had two years of high school education in Brooklyn and graduated from Redlands High School, resumed his studies at Stanford University in 1908, but had to work his way through college. For two years he was private secretary to David Starr Jordan (1851-1931), Stanford's inaugural president and the man largely responsible for introducing rugby union to Stanford in 1905. Jordan was a member of the California State Fish Commission, investigating the exploitation of the salmon and fur seal populations, and in June 1908 he appointed Stolz secretary of the International Fishing Commission, posting him in that role to Eastport, Maine, to work with Canadian Samuel Tovel Bastedo and later Edward Prince on adjusting the fishing rights between Canada and the United States. Stolz also travelled with Jordan to Alaska, Russia and Europe. Initially a four-year project, the work continued until 1910, when Stolz returned to full-time studies. He graduated with a degree in physiology in May 1911 and a masters from the Stanford Medical School in May 1914. That same year he was appointed Stanford's director of physical training.
Stolz was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in 1910, studying medicine there and becoming the second American to play rugby union for Oxford (though, because of an injury, he did win his Blue in the annual Varsity match). He also played rugby for Rosslyn Park and competed for Oxford in athletics and boxing. At Stanford Stolz had been a noted track sprinter, relay anchorman (at one time joint holder of a version of the world 4 x 440 yards record) and long jumper, and was also Stanford's middleweight boxing champion. After returning from England, Stolz joined the Olympic Rugby Club in San Francisco. 
On November 9, 1913, Stolz was named by selectors Ralph Merritt, Joseph Hickey and Palmer Fuller Jr in a 23-man All-American squad to meet the touring New Zealand All Blacks at California Field, Berkeley, six days later. The Test match started with Stolz on the bench, but shortly after halftime US fullback Art Ramage retired injured, Sterling Peart moved to fullback and Stolz came on to a wing. The All Blacks, who led 27-3 at that stage, went on to win 51-3.
When the US entered World War I in April 1917, Stolz immediately enlisted in the Medical Volunteers, serving at Fort Riley, Kansas, and Camp Cody, New Mexico, before going overseas and rising to the rank of captain in the Medical Corps. In 1919 he was appointed to organise the rugby union tournament at the Inter-Allied Games in Paris and was responsible for forming the US team, which finished second to France.
The US team organised by Stolz to play in the 1919 Inter-Allied Games in Paris.
As a direct result of that achievement, a US team was entered in the rugby tournament at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, in which it beat France for the gold medal. The US successfully defended its title against the host nation at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, and remains the defending Olympic rugby champion.
After the war, Stolz returned to the US and was stationed at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, until he resigned from the army June 1, 1920. He was then became director of physical education for the California State Department of Education, working closely with Clark Wilson Hetherington (1870-1942) and based in Sacramento, and in 1924 took on the additional role of chief of the Bureau of Child Study and Parent Education. He retained this assignment when he went to the University of California in Berkeley as the first director of its Institute of Child Welfare in 1926, also having responsibility for child hygiene. After leaving academic life in 1934, Stolz devoted the remainder of his professional life to working for the welfare of handicapped children, initially in directing a guidance program for Oakland's public schools until 1947, and later as Deputy Superintendent in charge of Special Schools and Services in the California State Department of Education, from which he retired in 1956. Because of him, California's educational services for the blind, deaf, cerebral palsied and emotionally disturbed were the nation's model. His belief was that one could gauge the level of civilisation achieved by any human society by the quality of its treatment of its handicapped youngsters. In 1951 he published The Somatic Development of Adolescent Boys, the result of study started in 1932.
As active in the relationship stakes as he was in the fields of medicine and sport, Stolz married three times and had a child by another woman. His first wife, fellow Stanford student and Redlands resident Margaret Ann Post (above, 1885-1918), died just four years after becoming Mrs Stolz on August 3, 1914. In an American church in France a year after Margaret's premature death, on June 1, 1919, Stolz married Edgell "Sarah" Adams (1887-), a Young Men's Christian Association worker overseas who was a noted pianist from Birmingham, Alabama. They had a daughter, Rosemary (1921-2006). During this marriage he had a seven-year affair with co-operative pre-school pioneer Katharine Page Whiteside Taylor (1898-1989), with whom he had a daughter, Margot, in 1929. The affair started in 1927, the year Taylor founded the Children’s Community in Berkeley. At the end of the affair, in 1934, Stolz left academic life. In 1938 Stolz married another childcare pioneer, Dr Lois Hayden Meek (below, 1891-1984), professor of psychology at Stanford. 
Bert "Stubby" Stolz died in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, on January 16, 1971, aged 84.


Richard P said...

My goodness, you were working on an epic tale over the past week!

There are lots of familiar landmarks for me in this story. My parents and sisters still live in Oakland, one of them quite near Mills College; my brother-in-law works in Jack London Square. Piedmont is a beautiful and prosperous town surrounded by Oakland, in the hills. My mother attended Piedmont High School.

Nice new header for your blog.

shordzi said...

Love the new blog header, truly fitting!

Unknown said...

As one of Herbert Stolz's grandsons, I was surprised that he was the subject of one of your blogs, intrigued at some of your assertions, and curious as to your sources.

First, I believe that he was recruited by London for the Snark voyage first and foremost as an able-bodied sailor. The Snark was, after all, a sailing vessel without modern powered winches. Herbert was a young, strong, and enthusiastic (if inexperienced) deckhand. That he had no knowledge of the operation of the ship's engine is no surprise.

Regarding his rugby career, I have a wonderful photo of him in a "winged-O" jersey, and would be happy to send it to you if you provide me with an email address (I do not think I can attach it to this comment). Unfortunately, you have mis-identified him in the photo of the American team that faced the All-Blacks. He is, in fact, the left-handmost player in the second row. The prominent nose is revealing.

You seem to have been able to compile more of Louis Stolz's history than our family has. We do not know of him as a "Brooklyn-raised teacher", thinking that he had spent all of his life in the Islands, nor do we know where his grave is. Can you provide references to this information and your source material?

Finally, our family is most intrigue by your allegation that Herbert had a child with Katherine Taylor and the possibility that we have unknown relations. I cannot confirm whether or not Margot Taylor Fanger had any offspring. Can you provide the source/proof of your contention that she was my mother's half-sister?

Thank you for any additional light you may be able to shed on my family's history.

James Rowell Owen