Monday, November 19, 2007

Artists of Lanesville - LEE KINGMAN, Author, Editor

This excerpt is from A Village at Lane's Cove by Barbara H Erkkila recently reprinted and available through Ten Pound Island Book Company. Barbara was the best chronicler of Lanesville and also authored the book Hammers on Stone-The History of Cape Ann Granite available in bookshops around Rockport and Gloucester, and The Cape Ann Museum giftshop.

One of the best things about Lee Kingman, Lanesville author of children’s books and books for young people, is that she finds inspiration in small, everyday events or scenes around her. For forty years, she has been writing books as well as editing at home. She also is an artist, having been a member of the Folly Cove Designers. Her husband is Robert H. Natti, retired principal of Gloucester High School. They have two grown children, Susanna Mathilda and Peter. Miss Kingman’s book The Saturday Gang was chosen the Junior Literary Guild Outstanding Book Selection for Boys and Girls in 1961. Her first book written for the very young was Pierre Pidgeon with a Canadian Gaspe Peninsula background. Her most loved story is The Best Christmas, a child’s book eagerly read by all ages and treasured for its story of how Erkki Seppala discovered how to have a “best” Christmas as he worries about his big brother at sea on a granite “stone boat.” A new edition illustrated by Barbara Cooney of Rockport came out in 1984. Flivver, the Heroic Horse, illustrated by Erik Blegvad, was written in 1958. In it the author actually presented a solution to the problem of what to do with a derelict barge at Clam Cove (Lane’s Cove). A floating art gallery was the solution to the fictional problem. The Year of the Raccoon, a full-length book, was one of the best selling books for 1966. It was at about that time that wild raccoons emerged from the woods at night, often sitting at back doors waiting for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The Village Band Mystery marked another in Miss Kingman’s mysteries for young people-this one based on what she knew about the old-time Waino Band and the Wainola Hall before it burned down. A trip to Finland and Lapland set her writing Secret Journey of the Silver Reindeer. In 1981 there was Private Eyes: Adventures with the Saturday Gang, and then Head Over Wheels.

In the winter she and her husband often circle their huge quarry on cross country skis and they have friends come on Saturday for sauna, a long-time Finnish custom the Nattis observe. Many people have adopted the Finnish custom of taking a sauna bath on Saturdays or any day someone’s bathhouse is ready. Old-time saunas were heated by wood with round beach stones to be heated so they’d retain warmth for hours. Not really steam baths, blasts of heat came when as little as a cupful of water was dashed on the hot stones. There are a few saunas left today, but in the early part of this century, there must have been thirty in Lane’s Cove alone.

The author maintains a strict writing schedule and says the quiet at Blood Ledge helps her keep it successfully.

There were many women writers becoming recognized in the years from 1895 to 1950. Their stories and poems appeared in either the Cape Ann Weekly Advertiser or the Gloucester Daily Times. Sarah Hart was one of the first and she wrote with a touch of humor, an intriguing plot and authentic historical background. Lena Clark Wells found royalty in Britain was her chief interest so her characters always revolved in Europe. Sarah Duley and Nellie Saunders were village poets; Elizabeth A. Blood was another.

In 1963 A. Ross Burton wrote GI in World War II with illustrations by Eino A. Natti. Captain Chester Morrissey lived in the old firehouse when he retired from the sea in the 1950s. He composed verses about his fishing adventures on the Boston schooner Commonwealth. Later, Bob Morey wrote The Duley Street Lighthouse, a saga of making port at Lane’s Cove in a storm.

Following the trend in popular fiction today, Sharron Cohen writes romantic novels. Knowing how difficult it is to find tourist attractions and historic places to visit with children, Harriet Webster has made this her special writing project. Her husband, Jonathan, was a journalist.

Winter at Lane’s Cove is the time for spending hours with pen, pencil or typewriter, for there are at least twenty people working on books, many retired people researching local history, women who write about historical houses and their value to the community, and others who are active in writing groups.


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