Friday, April 04, 2008
Open Space Friday
I've been stopped on the street in Lincoln Park a few times by people looking for the “stone house with the overgrown plants where the crazy old man used to yell at us.” I had no idea what they were talking about, but would refer people to the only stone house I knew of: the one at the corner of Gibbs and McKinley.
My only connection to the stone house was the peacock who lived in the garden there. Mr. Big and I always looked for the peacock as we walked or drove by. One day, neighbors reported hearing men’s voices and angry peacock noises. People saw the bird being shoved into a white van. The peacock has not been seen for about three years now. A peacock banner was recently added to the porch as a waving tribute to the missing bird.
The peacock and the stone house used to be home to Edward “Ted” Pugh, a horticulturist known as “The Pomona Poet.” A placard in the front yard identifies the house as the Marshall Castle. Today's first photo is of the castle as it looked when Sir Ted lived there. That must be his infamously wild and free vegetation. I love it!
I've often wondered what Ted was like and what he wrote. Surprisingly, none of Ted’s poetry books are at the Pomona Library. His books aren't available on Amazon either. I located one book, entitled “Open Space,” on the fifth floor of the Cal Poly Pomona library. It was there that I went to read his poems and make copies of the book, since the library does not allow non-students to check books out.
For the next few Fridays, Ted Pugh will be given open space here on the blog in the form of stories, photographs and poetry. Ted is said to have despised computers. But given that he was known for having conversations with fairies in his Pomona forest, I think he'd be game for spending time with the Goddess of Pomona, even if there is a little high technology involved.
The book "Open Space" was published by Cedric Rogers of Lincoln Park, Pomona, who wrote this 1998 "For-Word," which appears in the book:
"Edward J. Pugh was born on 10 October 1926 in Pomona, California, and has lived there all his life in a large grey stone house, built by his grandfather in 1910, surrounded by woods that inspired much of his poetry. He died on 21 December 1997 at age 71.
"He obtained a degree in horticulture from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and worked as naturalist at the Los Angeles Arboretum where he planted the original Australian section. When he retired in 1969, he began writing poetry and wrote about five poems a day, producing an estimated 15,000 poems. His Welsh ancestry contributed to his passion for poetry."
"Ted's life in Pomona accompanied that city's conversion: from a collection of orange groves gracing his house all around -- to a concrete jungle almost unrecognizable to him. Remaining on one property for a century, his family has kept free an open space in a busy city: a peacock lives there!"
And now Ted finally gets to speak:
"ONCE A MEASURED REACH
I used to grow with the growing things
Those trees and grasses and mushroom rings.
Now the wood is dead, the steel is mute,
And cement covers creation's root.
With tree I used to lift my eyes
See distance's bluest birthing skies.
With grass to know the parent sun,
The summer's greenest colour run.
I used to grow with the growing things --
These mushroom rings that mystery brings."
--- Copyright, Ted Pugh 1997 from the book entitled Open Space