Bar Harbor By the Sea
DESCRIPTION: "The day was drawing to its close, The sea was calm.... The pleasure yachts they sought repose." "Bar Harbor, how I love thy hills." The poet describes the sea, the mountains above the town, and many people of the town
AUTHOR: Words: John J. Friend
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (Gray)
KEYWORDS: home nonballad moniker
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Gray, pp. 182-185, "Bar Harbor By the Sea" (1 text)
NOTES [353 words]: The subhead of this is "Where You'll Meet Tourists of Every Land." The poem itself can't seem to decide whether it is an appeal for visitors to bring in their money, or an ode to the locals -- possibly the first three verses were advertising copy, and the next nine were designed to sell copies to the local residents.
The author lists about fifteen individuals or families from Bar Harbor. Some of these are named too briefly to recognize ("Harrisons," "Livingstons"). The rest I checked in the CDAB (1964 edition, because it was the oldest I had to hand) and the available volumes of DAB. None of them were worthy of mention, presumably showing how obscure all these people were. (Based on the song, it sounds as if many were locals involved in supporting charitable causes relating to the First World War.)
There was one partial exception. The song mentions "Mrs. Morris K. Jessup" (note the double s in the surname, which is incorrect).
Morris K. Jesup (1830-1908) was, according to DAB (Volume V, pp. 61-62), a "capitalist [and] philanthropist" who made his money in banking, then retired in 1884 to spend the money. He helped found the American Museum of Natural History, supported several colleges, helped the Audubon Society -- and funded Robert Peary's quest for the North Pole.
According to Bryce, p. 135, Jesup was "a millionaire philanthropist.... A member of the New York City Mission and Travel Society and vice president of the American Sunday School Union, he had helped found the New York YMCA and was interested in Anthony Comstock's crusades to suppress vice and obscene literature." And Bryce also mentions his support of the Museum of Natural History, and his heavy support for Robert Peary. (For more on Peary, see "Hurrah for Baffin's Bay").
Cape Morris Jesup, at the northern tip of Greenland, was named for him by Peary; it is thought to be the northernmost point of land on earth, and seems to have been Jesup's biggest surviving claim to fame.
Jesup was dead by the time Gray published his book -- and, I suspect, by the time this ode was written. Hence the praise to (I assume) his widow. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
- Bryce: Robert M. Bryce Cook & Peary: The Polar Controversy, Resolved (Stackpole, 1997)
- CDAB: Concise Dictionary of American Biography, based on the Dictionary of American Bibliography, Charles Scribners' Sons, 1964
- DAB: Dumas Malone, editor, Dictionary of American Biography, originally published in 20 volumes plus later supplementary volumes; I use the 1961 Charles Scribner's Sons edition with minor corrections which combined the original 20 volumes into 10
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