Tag Archives: Paul Dresser

“Art Spaces looks to honor Theodore Dreiser”

 

Binder1

 

Posted here:

“Art Spaces looks to honor Theodore Dreiser”

By Steve Kash

Spectrum, Spring 2017

pp. 24-27

The article was based in part on an interview I had with Mr. Kash in Terre Haute, Indiana on March 10, 2017.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

  March 2022

an exchange of letters

 

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Posted above are letters from

Dreiser to his brother Ed, April 18, 1938

Ed’s reply, April 20, 1938

Also — Rome Dreiser’s death certificate

 

Ed was Dreiser’s young brother

Rome (born Markus Romanus Dreiser) was the second oldest of the Dreiser siblings and Theodore and Ed’s brother.  He is the same Rome, a railroad engineer said to be a drifter, who — in his autobiographical work Dawn, published in May 1931, Dreiser wrote — “drank himself into failure if not death.”

Other Dreiser family members mentioned in Dreiser’s and Ed’s letters are their older sister Mame (Maria Franziska Dreiser) and her husband [Austin] Brennan; sister Emma; Mai (Skelly) Dresser. Ed’s wife; Paul Dresser, who died in 1907, the oldest of the Dreiser siblings; and Vera Dreiser, Ed and Mai’s daughter and Dreiser’s niece.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2021

Roger W. Smith, “Dreiser’s Nephew Carl”

 

‘Dreiser’s nephew Carl’

This post is in the form of a downloadable Word document (above).

 

'Dawn' - first typescript - Chapter XLII, pg. 13

Theodore Dreiser, “Dawn,” first typescript, Chapter XLII, pg. 13

 

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Abstract

 

This article focuses on Theodore Dreiser’s nephew Carl Dresser, who was born out of wedlock in 1886 to Dreiser’s sister Cacilia (Sylvia) Dreiser. The article provides hitherto unknown details about Sylvia’s affair with Carl’s father — the pseudonymous “Don Ashley” — when Theodore Dreiser, his sister Sylvia, and other siblings were living in Warsaw, Indiana with their mother, as recounted by Dreiser, with some major modifications of facts, in his autobiographical work Dawn.

I have discovered the identity of Carl’s father and confirmed details of Carl’s death. It was “known” on scant evidence that he was a suicide. It has been said, which is inaccurate, that Carl died in his teens. I have found Carl’s death record, as well as his birth record.

Dreiser’s sister Sylvia abandoned Carl and did not raise him; he was raised by Dreiser’s parents and also by his aunt Mame (Theodore Dreiser’s sister) and her husband. As an unwanted child, Carl had a difficult life. Many details have remained sketchy or were never investigated by Dreiser biographers; there is scant mention of Carl in Dreiser biographies.

The story of Sylvia’s affair and pregnancy, a scandal at the time, is worth investigating, since Dreiser saw it as not insignificant in his family history and as contributing to ideas about sex and morality he had as a teenager — he used it as the subject matter of two chapters in Dawn. And, the story of Carl’s birth and his short, unhappy life throws some light on characters in Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and, to a lesser extent, in his novel Jennie Gerhardt.

 

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Theodore Dreiser, “The Return of the Genius,” Chicago Sunday Globe. October 23, 1892 (under byline Carl Dreiser)

Theodore Dreiser, ‘The Return of the Genius.’

 

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132 West 15th Street, NYC

+ 132 West 15th Street, Manhattan; photo by Roger W. Smith, May 2020. Carl Dreiser was born at this address, in the apartment of Theodore Dreiser’s sister, Emma, in 1886.

Carl's building

53 West Erie Street, Chicago; where Carl Dresser lived at the time of his death; photo by Tamie Dehler

 

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Addendum, August 16, 2020:

I received an email from Professor Emeritus Thomas Kranidas today which called my attention to something I had overlooked (italics): “Dreiser was surely influenced by memory of Carl’s bellhop days. And Carl was tragically influenced by Dreiser’s portrayal of Hurstwood’s suicide in “Sister Carrie.”

Note that Carl Dresser (as detailed in my essay ) died from “Asphixiation by illuminating gas.”

 

— posted by Roger W.  Smith

   May 2020; updated August 2020

Roger W. Smith review of “On the Banks of the Wabash” by Clayton W. Henderson

 

rws-review-of-on-the-banks-of-the-wabash-indianapolis-star-9-27-20031

 

review of  On the Banks of the Wabash: The Life and Music of Paul Dresser by Clayton W. Henderson

(a biography of Paul Dresser)

reviewed by Roger W.  Smith

Indianapolis Star

September 27, 2003

photos of Theodore Dreiser and relatives

 

Posted here (see below) are photos and portraits of Theodore Dreiser as well as numerous photos of Dreiser’s relatives and acquaintances.

There is some overlap with photos which I have already posted on this site. See

https://dreiseronlinecom.wordpress.com/?s=photographs

 

Notable among the persons included in these photos, besides Dreiser, are the following:

Esther A. (Schnepp) Dickerson, Theodore Dreiser’s aunt

Dreiser’s siblings Paul, Rome, Emma, Theresa, and Claire

Dreiser’s first wife Sara White Dreiser

Dreiser’s second wife Helen (Patges Richardson) Dreiser and several of her ancestors and relatives

Dreiser’s sister-in-law Mai Skelly Dreiser

Dreiser’s favorite niece Gertrude A. Hopkins

Dreiser’s niece Dr. Vera Dreiser

Harold James Dies, who was related to Helen (Patges Richardson) Dreiser and, more distantly, to Theodore Dreiser, and who served for many years as Trustee of the Dreiser Trust

 

Thanks are due to the following persons and institutions for permission to post photos:

Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania

Vigo County Historical Society Museum, Terre Haute, IN

the late Harold J. Dies

Gloria N. Vevante (a Dreiser family descendant)

Joann Crouch (a Dreiser family descendant)

Thomas P. Riggio

Please note: if you left click on a photo of interest, a descriptive caption for that photo will appear. If you right click on the photo, you will have the option of downloading (saving) it.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2017

 

 

 

 

 

photos of the birthplaces of Theodore Dreiser and his brother Paul, Terre Haute, IN

 

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The birthplace of songwriter Paul Dresser (1857-1906); he was Theodore Dreiser’s older brother. The house has been renovated and was moved from its original location in Terre Haute to a site in the same town on the banks of the Wabash River. Photo by Roger W. Smith.

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Paul Dresser Birthplace, Fairbanks Park, Terre Haute, IN; photo by Roger W. Smith

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sculpture honoring songwriter Paul Dresser, created by Teresa Clark; Fairbanks Park, Terre Haute, IN; photo by Roger W. Smith

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sculpture honoring Paul Dresser; photo by Roger W. Smith

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“Here is a picture of the house in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the Dreisers lived from 1872 to 1877. Its address was 203 S. 12th Street, and it was located on the southwest corner of that intersection. Some say Theodore was born here. Others say he was born at 523 S. 9th Street. Edward Dreiser was definitely born here. This house was torn down about 2011. The date of this photo is unknown.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy Ms. Dehler.

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“This was taken just a few years before the house was torn down in 2011. I lived just a few blocks from this home from 1978 to 1989. It had these cedar shingles on it at that time and was surrounded by a pretty white picket fence. I was aware that it was a Dreiser house during most of that period when I lived nearby and I always wondered why the city did not get a historical marker erected in the yard.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy Ms. Dehler.

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“Here is a bird’s eye view of the property, taken from a real estate site for Vigo county. This photo is, I assume, from google earth and it is dated April 2008.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy of Ms. Dehler.

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“This is a drawing of the home made by artist Franklin Booth, date unknown. The printed caption across the bottom of this print says ‘Franklin’s impression of my birthplace.’ I believe that caption is attributed to Theodore Dreiser.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy of Ms. Dehler.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   March 2017

Carmel O’Neill Haley, “The Dreisers”

 

Carmel O’Neill Haley, ‘The Dreisers’ – Commonweal

Attached above as a downloadable PDF file is an article about the Dreiser family:

Carmel O’Neill Haley, “The Driesers,” The Commonweal, vol. XVIII, no. 10 (July 7, 1933), pg. 265-267

Ms. Haley knew Theodore Dreiser’s sister Maria Franziska Dreiser (1861-1944) – known by Ms. Haley as Mary and by the Dreiser family as Mame — and her husband Austin Daniel Brennan (1874-1928) well. She also knew Paul Dresser well.

In the article, she provides brief reminiscences of Mame and her husband; Theodore’s Dreiser’s father and mother; Theodore and Mame’s brother Paul Dresser, the songwriter (1858-1906); and a “red-headed nephew,” Carl Dresser (1888-1915), who was the son of Theodore and Mame’s sister Cacilia (Sylvia) Dreiser.

 

— Roger W. Smith

  November 2016

music

 

 

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“On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” (1897)

Composed by Dreiser’s brother Paul Dresser (1857-1906), “On the Banks of the Wabash” became the Indiana state song. Theodore Dreiser claimed to have written part of the lyrics himself. For a discussion of this, see On the Banks of the Wabash: The Life and Music of Paul Dresser by Clayton W. Henderson (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2003). See also “’On the Banks of the Wabash’: A Musical Whodunit” by Richard W. Dowell in Indiana Magazine of History 66 (June 1970) and “Collaborating on ‘The Banks of the Wabash’: A Brief History of an Interdisciplinary Debate, Some New Evidence, and a Reflexive Consideration of Turf and Ownership” by Carol S. Loranger and Dennis Loranger in Dreiser Studies 30.1 (1999).

 

“On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away”

(Verse)

Round my Indiana homestead wave the cornfields,
In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool.
Oftentimes my thoughts revert to scenes of childhood,
Where I first received my lessons, nature’s school.
But one thing there is missing from the picture,
Without her face it seems so incomplete.
I long to see my mother in the doorway,
As she stood there years ago, her boy to greet.

(Chorus)

Oh, the moonlight’s fair tonight along the Wabash,
From the fields there comes the breath of newmown hay.
Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
On the banks of the Wabash, far away.

(Verse)

Many years have passed since I strolled by the river,
Arm in arm, with sweetheart Mary by my side,
It was there I tried to tell her that I loved her,
It was there I begged of her to be my bride.
Long years have passed since I strolled thro’ the churchyard.
She’s sleeping there, my angel, Mary dear,
I loved her, but she thought I didn’t mean it,
Still I’d give my future were she only here.

 

Wabash River, February 2022; photograph by Michael R. Tingley

Wabash River, March 2017; photograph by Roger W. Smith

Wabash River, photograph by Roger W. Smith

 

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“My Gal Sal; or, They Called Her Frivolous Sal” (1905)

 

Composed by Dreiser’s brother Paul Dresser, this song did not become a hit until after Paul Dresser’s death in 1906. The song is about Annie Brace (alias Sallie Walker), an Evansville, Indiana madam who was Paul Dresser’s paramour. “My Gal Sal” is also the title of a 1942 film produced by Twentieth Century-Fox that was based on Paul Dresser’s life and which draws loosely on Theodore Dreiser’s affectionate memoir “My Brother Paul” in his Twelve Men.

“My Gal Sal.” Composed by Paul Dresser. Performed by Joan Morris, mezzo; William Bolcom, piano. From the album “Moonlight Bay” (Albany Records, catalogue # TROY318). Used with permission of Albany Records.

 

“My Gal Sal; or, They Called Her Frivolous Sal”

Everything is over and I’m feeling bad
I lost the best pal that I ever had
‘Tis but a fortnight since she was here
Seems like she’s gone tho’, for twenty years
Oh, how I miss her, my old pal
Oh, how I’d kiss her, My Gal Sal
Face not so handsome, but eyes don’t you know
That shone just as bright as they did years ago.

They called her frivolous Sal
A peculiar sort of a gal
With a heart that was mellow
An all ’round good fellow, was my old pal
Your troubles, sorrow and care
She was always willing to share
A wild sort of devil, but dead on the level
Was My Gal Sal.

Brought her little dainties just afore she died
Promised she would meet me on the other side
Told her how I love her, she said, “I know Jim
Just do your best, leave the rest to Him.”

Gently I pressed her to my breast
Soon she would take her last, long rest
She looked at me and murmured, “Pal.”
And softly I whispered “Goodbye, Sal.”

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   February 2016