Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Stones and Seeds Sown on the Lea – 
The Life and Letters of Lehighton’s Carl F. Strauch

“But as one passes the Cairn, one compulsively
drops his own little stones.”
                                                         ~Carl Strauch
This striking picture of Carl F. Strauch, with his trademark
pipe, was taken by then Lehigh student Lou Stoumen in
1939.  Stoumen would earn two Academy Awards in
documentary film making.  This photo won several
Lehigh Valley area awards.

Born to impoverished German immigrants in Jamestown, Carbon County, Carl F. Strauch may have lacked the pedigree of some in his field, but the depth and breadth of his literary acumen was undeniable.  His life’s work of research and analysis earned him the respect of most everyone who ever met him.
Carl Strauch visits family in Lehighton around 1915.

He published his book, Twenty-Nine Poems in 1932, at the wide-eyed age of twenty-four.  Frequently cited in masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations, he wrote dozens of scholarly articles published by the Emerson Society Quarterly and elsewhere.  

He was a nationally recognized authority on Ralph Waldo Emerson and wrote widely influential pieces on him as well as Whitman, J.D. Salinger, and Melville, especially on Moby Dick

He was the ever popular English professor at Lehigh University for forty years.  He was a stirring and dramatic professor, with a self-professed Socratic bent.  The impetus for his hiring from instructor to professor was initiated by the on-campus murder of English professor C. Wesley Phy.  Strauch subsequently filled Phy’s chair.
The Lehigh University English Department as it looked in 1935 before C. Welsey Phy's murder.  Back row second from the left is Carl F. Strauch, to his left is Phy, the man Strauch would replace after the June 4, 1936 campus murder-suicide.

Among his many accolades and accomplishments, Strauch was among the few people entrusted with the key to Harvard’s Widener Houghton Library, the first repository of its kind in the nation devoted to the preservation and study of the original manuscripts and rare books from among America’s literary heritage, including Emerson and Thoreau. 
He spent the summer of 1942 at the Fogg Memorial Library in Boston by special permission of the Emerson family to investigate the personal correspondence of Emerson.  This unfettered access and intimate interaction with Emerson’s own papers and letters helped Strauch to be placed among the top three researchers of Emerson in the world.

Perhaps the capstone to his storied career was the posthumous resolution by the Emerson Society of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The Society called Strauch “One of the few who met Henry David Thoreau’s high criterion, to serve with conscience as well as with body and mind.”

The inside flyleaf of Strauch's 1932 Twenty-Nine Poems
With a biting, and at times a withering wit, the ever apodictic Strauch, knew no limits in his ever upward-spiral toward mastery of the Romantics and Transcendentalists. 

The titles of just a few of Strauch’s essays and critiques themselves are thought-provoking: Kings in the Back Row: Meaning through Structure- A Reading of Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ (1961), The Year of Emerson’s Poetic Maturity: 1834 (Oct 1955), Emerson's New England Capitalist (1956), Emerson’s Unwilling Senator (1966), Romantic Harmony and the Organic Metaphor (handwritten copy), The Problem of Time and the Romantic Mode in Hawthorne, Melville, and Emerson, and Style in the American Renaissance (1970).
Professor Strauch and pipe -
Lehigh, 1940s.

He was transformative.  He transcended himself. 

He was ever and simply Strauch.

Carl F. Strauch was the youngest of eleven children who grew to adulthood.  His father Heinrich was a butcher and immigrated to Tamaqua, Pennsylvania with his parents and his brother John in 1879 when he was twenty-one.  Strauch’s mother, Anna-Margaret Foesch, arrived with her brother Michael in 1887.  Heinrich and Anna-Margaret married on September 24th, 1888 at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, on Tamaqua’s “Dutch Hill.”

Their first child, Strauch’s oldest sibling Maria (pronounced Mariah), my dear grandmother ‘Mary,’ was born there on October 3, 1889. 

The Strauchs struggled among the Sharp Mountain area miners.  Frequent strikes put a strain on everyone.  When Heinrich’s father John died in April 1898, the Strauch’s moved to Hacklebernie, a small mining village west of Mauch Chunk.  

The remote village rested between the Mammoth-vein coal quarry operations of Summit Hill and the coal transport hub town of Mauch Chunk.  This was the very same vein of coal behind their Tamaqua dwelling (and it extends all the way to Harrisburg).  Hacklebernie nestled along the hillside on the downhill run of the Switchback Railroad.  
The mighty Allentown Strauchs in 1917 - The beautiful Caroline 'Lena' sits at the right hand of her father Heinrich. 
The portrait was said to be taken ahead of Lena's eventual death from consumption in October 1917.  Carl, the youngest sits between his parents with his favorite sister Margaret behind him.  His mother Anna-Margaret and sister Elizabeth finish out the front row.  Back row: Henry, Leonard, Kate, Louie, Willy, Mary, and Edwin.  Heinrich and Anna-Margaret met in Tamaqua after each had immigrated from Germany.  They lived in Hacklebernie for about two years and then for about twelve years in Lehighton.  After 1911, they moved to downtown Allentown where Heinrich opened his own butcher shop.

The famed Switchback’s eighteen-mile gravity railroad was a leading national tourist attraction of the time.  It was among the many topics discussed between Strauch and Weird Tales author H. P. Lovecraft. 

Carl Ferdinand Strauch was the last child born to Heinrich and Anna Margaret on September 25, 1908 while the family still resided in the Jamestown section of Lehighton.  By then, Heinrich worked in a “slaughter house” most likely Obert’s Packing House on First Street Lehighton.
Strauch's Father: Impassive as ever even
in his later years, Heinrich Strauch
was said to be a brooding, temperamental man.
Even the Strauch women were tall.  Here is Zach and Mary Rabenold (w/
hand over her mouth) along with her sister Kate and Floyd Harrier.  The
man in the center was a family friend from Tamaqua, Fred "Fritz" Meder.
The girls, from tallest to smallest: Gladys Rabenold, Pauline, Arlene, and
Ruth Harrier.  Meder was a cousin to the Kellner side of the Strauchs.

As a young boy with a small stature, he grew to a giant from his books.
Carl Strauch as a young boy at his sister's
home in Lehighton around 1915.

Strauch remembered the moment he knew books would be his life.  “I stood only four feet in a family of tall, lean giants.”  His immersion into books was the result of a memorable pummeling he received in the neighborhood sand lot. 

Though only reaching to five-foot-nine as an adult, reading made him feel as though he were “seven feet, ten inches tall.” 

The other Strauchs were exceedingly tall.  The older men were over six feet.  Sisters Mary and Margaret were each over five feet eight. 

He was a man of high ideals.  His exacting standards were rooted deeply in the Lutheran faith, yet Strauch trembled not before any god.  To some, Strauch was god.  Former student and later longtime friend of Strauch, Professor Alex Liddie once said, “I was always in awe of him.”

If I was a Carpenter, and you were a Lady…”

Romance entered his life when he met Helen Dery on blind-date, a doubles tennis match in 1935.  She was the daughter of Austrian-born D. G. (Desiderius George) Dery.  Dery came to America in 1887 as a foreman to a New Jersey silk manufacturer.
A young and still prospering D. G. Dery
from the 1890s.
By 1919 Dery owned forty-two mills employing around 10,000 workers.  Eight of those mills were in the Lehigh Valley.  He was believed to be one of the the largest silk producers in the world.  

He constantly improved his Fifth and Pine Street property sitting on 4/5ths of an acre.  At times he lived in the top of his wooden carriage house while going through remodeling work on the home that taken as a whole, was quite extensive.
He added a West wing to the main residence first.  Followed years later by a observatory, solarium, and indoor pool.  This South Wing of the home was a ballroom and to display his fairly extensive collection.  

The 56-room mansion also had a basement taproom with leaded glass foundation windows.  The stained glass scenes depicted Native Americans in various pursuits of big Pennsylvania game animals. 
A man of many interests, D. G. had an observatory and a scientific research laboratory installed in 1917 as well as a false-paneled wall to conceal his writing room where he penned articles and novels. 

D. G. wrote at least two novels.  Under the Big Dipper was praised by H. L. Mencken as an “impressive first work of an unknown writer.” Another was entitled Jean Kressley.  Strauch became the perfect-fit son-in-law for Dery.
This February 1924 article claimed Dery owned
"nearly sixty mills."  Dery's fortunes were in full
reversal by the end of 1922.

Strauch once said his father-in-law’s father was part of the landed gentry of Baja, Hungary.  “Not part of the nobility, but one step below it.”  The father took part in the Austrian revolution in 1848 and had to flee from the Russian troops sent in to quash the rebels.  From then on he had to seek refuge in a tiny corner of the empire.  But as fate would have it, it was where he met his wife. 

According to Strauch, D. G. Dery was a man of style and taste that reflected his Austrian-Hungarian upbringing.  “He was a gentleman of the old school.  I could never imagine him in blue-jeans.” 

By the 1920s, with world silk prices in drastic decline, Dery fell on hard times.  In a last dash to save his empire, he resorted to some creative accounting to prop up his holdings.  Soon he faced fraud charges and had to abandon his mansion.  He was forced to move to the smaller house across the street.  But his financial failure didn’t change the man.  

A modern day view of the Dery Mansion
today.  The tile were Moravian Tile from
Doylestown.  The columns were linestone
from Colorado.
More can be viewed at the end
of this article.
The D. G. Dery Mansion in finer days with bunting.  This view appears
to predate the extensive 1917 remodeling by D. G. Dery.  This is the
front of the home as it faces Pine St, with 5th street to the left.  The bricks
were multi-colored tan and brown Romand style bricks.
Photo courtesy of
Borough of Catasauqua History Page - can be accessed by clicking here
He continued his astronomical observations, writings, and speaking engagements.  In his last days he moved into the Bethlehem home of Strauch and Helen, dying there in 1942.  With the property in receivership since the 1920s, the observatory was used by air raid wardens during the war.  Wiring was installed to sirens at the Phoenix Fire House from the mansion.
The disrepair and vandalism of the Dery mansion at Fifth and Pine Streets in Catasauqua in July 1942.  In the 1950s it was converted into luxury apartments, the ballroom and downstairs lounge/bar were available for wedding receptions.  In the 1980s, the Albert Moffa family attempted to restore it to its former grace and lived there for a short time.  However, it has once again fallen into disuse, as the property is far too expensive for a single owner to maintain.  the top right photo here shows the Art room as it looked in Dery's time.  Later remodeling work took this room and split it into two levels.  The swimming pool and observatory end of the wing is behind the taker of this picture.  The stairs seen here attach at the front main part of the home.   See the After Notes section for some modern photos of the mansion as it appears today.

A 1985 article in the Morning Call about Albert Moffa and his renovations of the Dery Mansion.  Shown here the subterranean "Dery Lounge" basement bar of Dery.  Note the curved wall with the leaded glass.  This curved end extends from the South Wing and faces West.  Above one floor is the Dining Room and above that is the Dery Master Bedroom.  D.G. made that his own bedroom while his wife took the smaller, square room to the south.
Dery’s wealth afforded him opportunities in art.  Of mutual interest to him and his wife and in-laws was their shared interests in the arts. D. G. Dery had an extensive collection, of which Strauch referred to as “sentimental” in theme.   Dery had a 17th century reliquary of Christ on the Cross, a Gothic Cross, a painting "Little Mother," and a Carrara marble statue known as the “Blind Girl,” modeled on a character in Bulwer-Lytton’s 19th century novel, “The Last Days of Pompeii.”  
D. G. Dery's art purchases made the news in
February 1912.

Dery’s taste reflected his upbringing in middle class 19th century Vienna.  “If he had put himself in the hands of an art expert, he would have been able to acquire Impressionists for almost nothing,” Strauch was once quoted in a 1984 article of Dery in the Morning Call.

And so began the life of the son of a several-times-over broke German butcher and the daughter of a wealthy, and soon to be broke, silk industry magnate.  Helen majored in art at the Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, was active in the Civic Little Theater, and spent considerable time engaged in extensive travel and study in Europe.  
One of Helen Dery's charcoal sketches from her
Harcum College yearbook.  It was at about this time
that she was studying the art of Europe.
She met Strauch shortly after her return. 

Both Helen and Strauch presented their work at a spring 1937 Muhlenberg College art show.  She entered pencil portraits and water colors, while he showed surrealistic charcoal and pen and ink masks.
From Allentown Call-Chronicle,
16 July 1933.

Strauch was known in circles from H. P. Lovecraft to H. L. Mencken and from W.H. Auden to Robinson Jeffers.  He considered these men to be his friends.

Mencken, who believed that every community produced a few people with clear superiority who distinguish themselves by their will and personal achievement, had a penchant for seeking out and affiliating himself with like-minded thinkers. Strauch expressed an almost familial bond with Mencken, to whom he described as his “friend, guide, and mentor.”

“A subtle chain of countless rings
The next unto the farthest brings;
The eye reads omens where it goes,
And speaks all languages the rose;
And, striving to be man, the worm
Mounts through all spires of form.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson from ‘Nature’
From the 1932 Muhlenberg yearbook the five students and their advisers who started the inaugural Phi Sigma Iota national
honor Romance language society.  Centered and bow-tied, the indefatigable Edward Fluck along with an equally smiling Carl F. Strauch to his left.

While a student at Muhlenberg in 1928, he along with five other students started the Lambda chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota, national honor Romance language society.  The fraternity was the first of its kind at Muhlenberg. 

Strauch received his B.A. from Muhlenberg in 1930 and immediately took his first job there as Assistant Librarian.  It was during this time that he developed a friendship with H. P. Lovecraft through their mutual friend, Dr. Harry K. Brobst.  Strauch earned his M.A. from Lehigh in 1934 and joined the Lehigh English department the same year.  On at least one occasion Strauch was welcomed into Lovecraft’s Providence Rhode Island home.
Before Email, Twitter, and Texting - Lovecraft sent
sketches of his new abode to Strauch.  And when Strauch
too moved to his new home in Bethlehem, he returned
sketches of his own to Lovecraft, including a schematic layout.
This sketch appears courtesy of S. T. Joshi
 and David E. Schultz’s H. P. Lovecraft: Letters
to J. Vernon Shea, Carl F. Strauch, and Lee McBride White
Hippocampus Press (2016).

He attended Penn for graduate work in German, “But when the depression deepened for me I came home and enrolled at Lehigh…I was not following a Tennysonian Gleam.”  For me, “There was no Gleam.”

Though Lehigh didn’t have the prestige of “Swarthmore, Haverford, Amherst, or Williams,” he said his exposure to “high standards and good teaching began in 1933 at Lehigh.”

In 1934 Professor Robert M. Smith offered him a job, of which Strauch commented, “Happenstance was beginning to provide some footing.”  But it was a the tragic murder-suicide by Clow that changed Strauch’s gleam.
Lovecraft's layout sketch - Appears courtesy of S. T. Joshi
 and David E. Schultz’s H. P. Lovecraft: Letters
to J. Vernon Shea, Carl F. Strauch, and Lee McBride White
Hippocampus Press (2016).

“It was a cruel quirk that led me to American Literature.”

This ‘cruel quirk’ took place at Lehigh’s Christmas-Saucon Hall on the morning of June 4th, 1936. 

News of Phy's murder
and Clow's suicide swept
the country, articles
appeared from Santa Cruz
 to Detroit to Altoona.  
This article came from the 
June 6, 1936 edition of
Journal and Courier paper.

Clow was a senior mining engineering major who was failing at least two classes.  One was metal-mining, the other was in Professor Phy’s English class.  On the night before the murder, Clow phoned Phy’s home and warned Phy’s wife with an ominous tone that his grade better be changed by 7:00 pm that night.

The next morning, he first went into the office of the mining professor but he wasn’t there.  So Clow proceeded to the office of Phy. 

A fraternity brother of Clow’s happened to be in Phy’s office taking an exam and witnessed the murder.  He heard them exchange words about re-examination but Phy stated he needed written permission from the dean to proceed. 

Then Clow said “Well” while he pulled the 38 revolver from his pocket.  Phy jumped up and shouted “No, you don’t!” while Clow fired two shots into his chest. 

Despite one of the shots hitting his heart, Phy was able to run down a flight of stairs to the infirmary and died at the feet of campus physician Dr. Raymond C. Bull.

On the floor above, Strauch opened his office door, which faced Phy’s, to find the body of Wesley Clow.  

At first, he thought he was hearing the popping of fireworks.  Realizing it was a full month before Independence Day and sensing something was amiss, he dashed into the hallway to find the stand-out Lehigh wrestler with a gunshot wound to his head. 

After seeing the gun and realizing Clow’s life had ceased by his own hand, Strauch phoned the police.
As their picture appeared in the Call-Chronicle, Allentown's
Morning Call - June 5, 1936.

Wesley Clow's 1936 Lehigh
University photo.  His mother died when he was just 4.  His father, a real estate developer who moved to FLorida,  married a second time to a woman 20 years younger than him.  Ironic that the nickname beneath Clow's description was "Killer."

Clow appears 4th in the 3rd row - Just off center right - Lehigh University Yearbook 1936.

It was the first campus murder-suicide in U.S. history.

The Man of Letters:
Helen Dery's 1937 engagement picture.

Carl F. Strauch married Helen Dery in New York City on September 1, 1937, just as he launched into his doctoral studies at Yale.  He completed his Ph.D. there during summers and breaks from 1937 and to 1946.  On July 2, 1953, he was promoted from “associate” to “full professor” at Lehigh.  Their only child, Helen ‘Dery’ Strauch was born in 1944.

Dr. Alex Liddie, the former student, colleague and friend, said “His courses were an extension of the man…he had an academic aura that imparted equal parts expertise and personal philosophy.”

Your sense of humility overtakes you.  Noiselessly, the little stones you’ve collected drop to the ground.  Why look down?  Alas you stand in the presence of greatness.  A nod of the head and it is bestowed upon you.  Little traces left behind for those who may follow.  Let them ferment and take root, the radical searching onward and upward, the pathway is clear.  Follow now onto greatness.

Liddie heard of him while he was still in high school.  His older brother had taken Strauch as an elective and was mesmerized.  He told Alex he had to take him even though he was a business major.  This bit of happenstance would forever change the course of his life. 
Neither the two shall meet -
The following two Allentown Call-Chronicle articles tell of the
concurrent lives of Professor Strauch:
Above, a party at the Hotel Traylor (just blocks from the
Strauch home) with attorneys and the like with no mention of the
Strauch family in attendance (1 September 1938).

This Call-Chronicle article from 28 August 1938
seems to depict a simpler farewell to the first
year newlyweds.  Just as above, there is no
mention of in-laws in attendance.

Though Liddie finished his B.A. in business at Lehigh, he went onto his M.A. and Ph.D. at Rutgers in literature, becoming a teacher of English specializing in American Literature at Trenton State College.  He also served as chair of the English department.  Thus the lives of countless and successive students were transformed, fueled by the power of Strauch’s persona.

According to Liddie, Strauch wasn’t only “a serious and authoritative scholar” but was also “a showman, a commander of the classroom, a raconteur, and the life of a party.” 
Yet, Strauch could also be acerbic and vituperative.  Strauch was a rock, his eminence could be both imposing and impassable.  He could be both an obstacle and a blessing to both his colleagues and his family alike. 

He held the unfettered devotion from his daughter.  A daughter who took the principles of his teachings to the extreme, her blind faith and determination took her beyond the pale of passive disobedience.  

Her unflinching devotion to the cause of peace and life made history.  Helen Dery Strauch Woodson became the longest incarcerated peace activist in U.S. history.
Professor Liddie had this to say:
“Carl and I stayed in touch until just before his death…He was my frequent overnight house guest and he attended my second wedding in '77…He was a colorful character, worthy of a mini-biography, and perhaps a mystery to his family…I had such utter and complete respect for him, we all were in awe of him.”
Professor Alex Liddie along with his wife Patricia at home. 
Liddie was a long-time and loyal friend of Strauch who graciously
gave his time to the publication of this article. 
Though they grew quite close in Strauch's declining years,
Liddie said he was always "in awe" of Strauch.

Perhaps his discipline of the mind sourced back to a severe childhood.

Strauch’s nephew, Randy Rabenold of Lehighton, described his grandfather Heinrich Strauch as a “gloomy” and tyrannically “stern” man, who “never smiled and rarely spoke.”  There is no mention in family lore of any of the siblings ever working in Heinrich’s meat shop.  None followed him into his trade.

The Strauch siblings rarely spoke of their physically powerful father.   

Perhaps it was the intermediary years removed from his father's death and the heartache of Helen's death that started Strauch's inward reflection that allowed him to renew his close bond with his sister Anna-Margaret ("Margaret").

The two spoke of their mutual feelings of hurt from their father, words that never passed between them heretofore.      

Their second oldest brother Lewis, fifteen years older than Carl, seemed to inherit their father’s mean streak.  Carl remembered one blow he received from this brother as particularly devastating and memorable.  Lewis was a loom fixer in a silk mill.
This is the faded hex sign from the author's Great Uncle
Raymond Haas's Weissport barn from the 1960s.

Strauch considered himself fairly athletic.  He loved baseball and met his wife on the tennis court.  He savored his walks into nature, taking in country scenes.  He had a proclivity for “great walks” of fifteen or twenty miles, often times logging fifty or sixty miles in a week.  

He had many “epistolary friends.”  

He'd write letters of the things he experienced: the honesty of a crooked farmhouse chimney and weathered hex signs, framed by gnarled apple trees and tangles of wild grapes, scented in August ripeness...the somber December hoot of mating owls, collected in a hollow of pines. 
Distinguish and still in command:
Strauch from the prime of his career.

It is little wonder that he identified with John Stuart Mill, whom Strauch spoke of as “a child prodigy disciplined by his harsh and unfeeling father in a regimen of the narrowest intellectuality, without any concession to emotional life.  The result was that the young Mill, in his late adolescence and early manhood, had a severe case of depression, the cure for which he sought in Wordsworth’s nature poetry.”  

Strauch’s own words here could easily be seen as a mirrored projection of his own life, for Strauch certainly used literature for his own journey within. 

“One of my most brilliant graduate students (Liddie), years ago, advocated poetry as psychotherapy.”  Strauch’s own battles with insomnia and depression began as he watched the eventual demise of his wife.  He sought medical help for it in the early 1970s.

True to his underdog roots, he was known for professing his love for baseball and the hapless Chicago Cubs.  Among his favorites was the pitcher “Three Finger” Brown (1876-1948). 

Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown’s deformed and injured hand allowed for a grip that gave him an exceptional curveball.  “Three Finger” was the stuff of Strauch legend: a person who outperformed despite his past. His daughter Dery recounted playing catch and hitting baseball from the age of eight.  She remembers how special it was when she got her first “Louisville Slugger” and outfielder’s mitt from her father. 

Strauch’s second oldest sister, Kate, was married to Floyd Harrier. 
Floyd Harrier, Strauch's brother-in-law,
entered Allentown City Council race in
1933 on the Socialist Party ticket.  He lost.

The story goes that Kate fell into various escapes to avoid her duty to her husband and her children.  It was said she had an insatiable infatuation for Rudy Valentino, often escaping to the movies.   Floyd was often left alone to mind their kids during afternoon matinees, even though he needed his rest from working the second and third shifts at the mill.  During one of those afternoons, their eldest child Floyd Junior, was hit by a car and killed. 
Floyd Harrier (l) with his brother-in-law Zach Rabenold,
Flagstaff Park, Mauch Chunk, 1920s.  Harrier and Rabenold married
two of Carl Strauch's sisters.

Their already strained relationship only got worse.  Strauch’s nephew, Dr. Richard Harrier became a Shakespearian professor of note at New York University.  Dr. Harrier had little good to speak of his father who he sensed deserted the family.  When this author asked Harrier whatever happened to his father, he stated that he “probably ran-off with his socialist pals.” 
Richard Harrier, Strauch's nephew through his sister
Kate, became a man of letters at NYU.  He credited
his high school principal for pushing him to take the
competitive exams that helped launch his career.
Even in his late years, Dr. Harrier held animosity toward
his father whom he felt had abandoned the family.

Floyd Harrier was an early silk mill worker organizer before the unions were legally recognized.  He was active in the Lehigh Valley “Keystone Athletic League.”  There are several photos of that group's holiday philanthropy with Floyd Harrier and others of the club.  In 1933 he ran for Allentown city council as the Social Party candidate.  Harrier had a big heart and was fondly remembered by both Strauch and his sister Mary.

Strauch's entire family were working class people, most working in silk mills.  He certainly identified with their struggles.  He spoke fondly of another socialist union leader Eugene V. Deb’s (1855-1926) in his 1932 poem entitled ‘In Memoriam: Eugene V. Debs.’  His words illustrated the powerlessness of the worker who lacked “vital fire” and who had “rootless tongues” and “blind eyes.”  It is easy to relate Strauch sentiment to the philosophy of  Debs.
Page 1 of 4: Strauch's tribute to Debs could have its origins of
Strauch's socialist brother-in-law Floyd Harrier. 
Debs had died in October of 1926, in a time before
socialism received such distaste and distrust in America.  Reading just a few
of Debs' quotes could further impute Strauch's rationale for writing these
words to such a man. 
Debs: "While there is a lower class, I am in it,
while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison,
I am not free."  These words certainly could have been written by Strauch of his
daughter Dery.

The poem ends with a wishful, yet perhaps spiteful thought “hast thou found in that dim world the rose without thorn?”  
(This last line bears a similar tone to T.S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” poem published in 1925: “Sightless, unless the eyes reappear, as the perpetual star, multi-foliate rose, of death's twilight kingdom, the hope only of empty men.”)

Strauch was ambitious.  The trajectory of his life of letters was just beginning to ascend.  He published his Twenty-Nine Poems in April of 1932 while working as Muhlenberg’s assistant librarian.  He presented many copies to his family, friends, and colleagues.  Five hundred were printed.

To his professor Simpson, he wrote “With respect and admiration.”  To his Phi Sigma Iota brother, the future Dr. Edward J. Fluck, he wrote, “For Edward Fluck, whose taste is as impeccable as his friendship is sincere.” 
Carl F. Strauch's inscription in his Twenty-Nine Poems book
 to his good Muhlenberg fraternity brother Edward Fluck.

To his brother Edwin, Strauch sounds rather terse. Edwin’s inscription simply read, “For Edwin, From the author, Carl F.S., April 26, 1932.”  Uncle Edwin was an affable and jolly man who enjoyed reading. 

Another inscription of his Emerson’s Unwilling Senator, to Rosemary Mundlear, he wrote: “To her, Apr 2 ’84.”  The back of the 1970’s era photo in his office has “To Mildred with Love.” 

He presented the book to Fluck on the day it was announced that he was appointed as a Fellow of the Archaeological Institute of America, at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece.  Fluck’s copy of Strauch’s poems looks well worn, a lasting tribute to his friend’s words.  (See “End Notes” for more on Fluck’s distinguished career.)

Strauch’s poems received congratulatory local notice, earning him literary respect across the Lehigh Valley.  He was also known as a resource in Pennsylvania dialect and hex lore, which drew him into the gaze of H. P. Lovecraft.  Lovecraft achieved lasting cult fame for his stories in Weird Tales.

The friendship between Lovecraft (1890-1937) was sewn together by their mutual friend, Allentown’s Dr. Harry K. Brobst (1909-2010).  Strauch and Lovecraft corresponded from September 1931 to July 1933, as recorded in S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz’s H. P. Lovecraft: Letters to J. Vernon Shea, Carl F. Strauch, and Lee McBride White, Hippocampus Press (2016).

Both Lovecraft and Strauch had a common interest in the macabre and a penchant for deriding organized religion.  Contrast this with the dogmatic Brobst, who would eventually earn his doctor of divinity after serving a full career in psychiatry.  He earned his Ph.D. in psychiatry and worked as a professor at Oklahoma State before becoming ordained in the 1970s.   The friendship between Brobst and Lovecraft developed while Brobst was a psychiatric nursing student at Brown. 

 Born the same year as Strauch, he outlived his compatriot by twenty years, living to within one month of his 101st birthday. 

Joshi and Schutlz’s book features a two year conversation between Lovecraft and Strauch which included one visit to Lovecraft in Providence in September 1932.

In a letter to Robert Bloch in the summer of 1933, Lovecraft said that Strauch was “…delightful and affable-he visited Providence last summer and will probably come again this September.  Enthusiast in Germanic literature.  Rather anti-scientific by temperament-affording material for heated and interesting arguments with Brobst.”  This attests to Strauch’s long held agnostic beliefs.
Ever the journalist, some of the most endear-
ing of Strauch's quotes in this article
come from the copious note-taking by
Professor Robert "Bob" Cole (1937-2015)
back in his grad assistant
days beneath Carl F. Strauch.
This author was grateful to Bob for his help
with this article.  Even though he was
weighted by the advances
of Parkinson's Disease, Bob lent his time 
and energy to the writing of this piece on
his beloved friend and mentor Strauch.  

Liddie and in particular another mutual friend, Dr. Robert Cole, were both so enamored by Strauch that they kept notes on the things he spoke about. At times dark, at times jovial, and perhaps bombastic, Strauch never ceased to entertain those taken in by his lectures.

For those who loved him, his lectures were a thing to behold.

He’d enter the room with the ceremony of setting his pipe on the chalk tray.  Then as expected, would launch into what seemed like a torrent of information and debate fodder, heavily steeped in transcendental discourse.  And as Strauch admits, with a pinch of “piffle.” 

Alex Liddie noted that Strauch’s teaching style had “elegant sentence structures, dramatic pauses and repetitions, and shifts from high seriousness to comic interludes.”  Strauch admitted that he “was particularly interested in teaching literature, not being a showman…but I did want drama in the classroom.”

Banter was a Strauch forte. 

Liddie describes a Strauch-student encounter this way:

Strauch: Will you tell us about The Red Badge of Courage?
Student: [Busily writing, no response.]
Strauch: In the front row, in the red shirt, will you recite?
Student: [looking up] Me?
Strauch: Yes.  What were you writing?
Student: I was taking notes.
Strauch: That’s rather difficult isn’t it, considering nothing has been said yet?
Student: [frowning, angry] Well, I had to write down the title of the book, for God’s sake.
Strauch: Oh, it was for God’s sake was it?  You had no ulterior motive?  Very well, recite.
Student: [summarizes the first chapter]
Strauch: Very well, go on.
Student: [retells the second chapter]
Strauch: There, you see?  You did rather well, considering you began by hating me.

Several years after his retirement, in a moment of reflection, Strauch once said, “I do regret that occasionally I permitted my love of showmanship to get out of hand.  I belatedly became aware that I was offending some students (I hope not hundreds), and so I now, again belatedly, offer my sincerest apologies.”
Strauch handwritten notes for "Romantic Harmony" -
Date unknown (c. 1960s/70s) - Pg 8

Strauch had an anti-war, pro-life tone in much of what he wrote.  He once explained the difference between the nature-worshiping Romantics to the serious modern writers of the twentieth century.  Modern writers “shared the Romantics’ awe but not their optimism…Like earlier Deism, Romanticism derived support from science.  Deism drew upon astronomy, and Romanticism upon biology and geology.  The affirmations of Romanticism could not survive in this murderous century.  And so, between the two great wars, sophisticated and ironic minds turned to Eliot, Pound, Auden, and Wallace Stevens as well as others for cathartic effect.”

Strauch was said to be friends, if only perhaps epistolary friends, with W. H. Auden as well.

Strauch felt a kinship toward writers like Loren Eiseley (1907-1977).   “His books have given me immense satisfaction.  For me, Eiseley was an ideal man-scientist, nature lover, poet, and humanist.”  He continued by quoting one of his favorite 19th century minds, Matthew Arnold. “And as Arnold said of Emerson, “the friend and aider of those who would live in the spirit.”  Eiseley once said, "It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man."

Loren Eiseley and Auden were known to be friends as well.  When Auden asked Eiseley what his earliest public memory was, Eiseley referred to a 1912 prison escape where the men died in the Nebraska snow.  But Eiseley replied with the pronoun ‘we.’  This took Auden back.

In his biography, Eiseley delved into his use of ‘we’ in the context of world affairs: “We gathered like descending birds in spite of all obstacles.  Like birds, some of us died because we were old…Cheap liquor killed us; occasionally we died by gun…” 
Wide-eyed Strauch 1930
Muhlenberg yearbook.

Then Eiseley gets more universal: “We would be here when the city had fallen…sitting among our hatreds and superstitions…We would throw stones and break what we could not understand.”  This was written within the context as the first governments were making the first moves toward World War I.

These sentiments were collected and underscored by Strauch.  Certainly he was of mind and spirit with these men and their words.
Strauch handwritten notes for "Romantic Harmony" -
Date unknown (c. 1960s/70s) - Pg 12

As a former librarian, he always had cause to keep the record straight.

One time in October 1941, Lehigh’s Brown and White gave Strauch credit for a display of rare Emerson letters and papers.  The following day Strauch submitted: “Allow me to congratulate the Brown and White, Mr. Jesse Beers, and you on the excellent report of the Emerson display in our Library.  I must, however, in all fairness, disclaim having arranged the display.  Credit must go to Miss Mary E. Wheatley.  The greatest share I have had in the display has been the satisfaction of noting that our library has a considerable number of first editions of the most influential figure in American letters.”

In January 1945 Strauch gave a lecture on the use of literature as an escape as a worthwhile pursuit. He said lately Edmund Wilson of the New Yorker decried it as “a kind of cheat, blasting the detective novel while others defended it.”  (Another of Strauch’s books this author owns, Edmund Wilson’s Apologies to the Iroquois read by Strauch on October 4, 1971.) 

In his retirement, Strauch admitted to finding great pleasure in reading the modern detective novels.

Strauch had a unique penchant for both self-promotion and self-deprecation.  As Bob Cole noted from a first day lecture in September 1965 that he pointed out his graciousness in allowing student access to his own papers and books he placed on reserve in the library. 

“I am the only faculty member I think who performs this service.”  Further along, as he addressed the rigors and requirements of his syllabus, Strauch gave a “You see?...” with a signature dramatic pause as he gave a sweep of his arm in a calm over-arching gesture, “Please withhold your applause until I have shown the last text.”
Strauch handwritten notes for "Romantic Harmony" -
Date unknown (c. 1960s/70s) - Pg 18

In preparing for his own passing, Strauch made legal arrangements for the sum total of his life’s literary work to be placed into the special collections archive at the Linderman Library.  His papers and files were found from the basement to his bedroom.  Along with many published and unpublished manuscripts were collections of his letters with his friend Kenneth Cameron of the Emerson Society and Orson Welles and many others to name a few.  All the boxes take up twenty-lineal feet of the special collections archive.

Among the categories for some of his folders was one he self-entitled as “Fan Mail.”  Some of the letters display warm collegial affection.  Another discussed a bitter disagreement over an Emerson anthology, which was rather tragic given the energy and perfectionism that Strauch applied to his research and analysis. 

A letter from a former student, living in the Philadelphia area, now a stay at home mom, wrote to him upon feeling the solace of being snowed in and seeing a cardinal feeding outside her window.  It reminded her of Loren Eiseley’s poem, which Strauch shared in class, “The Sunflower Song” and how the cardinal’s eaten seed transforms into song.

There is also a 1943 letter from Orson Welles.  With typical Strauch panache, he took to his pen to prod Welles to make a movie production of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  He even suggested that Welles take the lead role.  The idea was graciously rejected.   Strauch was seventy-years ahead of the 2013 production starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Strauch too transformed over the years.  At his last regular lecture at Lehigh (which was preserved on audio tape, somewhere…) he entertained some regret of his career's devotion to the Romantics.  He went on to suggest that he’d been happier studying Henry James and his complex characters than Emerson.

“I have now reached a place where I can say that my courses are on a strong foundation of incompleteness.  Striving for completeness in this life is vanity…possibly blasphemous…It may be the unpardonable sin.”  A student then pointed out to the syllabus where it states that “no incompletes” would be given.  To this Strauch wryly assented.
Rare Strauch sketch of Thomas Hardy's fictional "Egdon Heath" - April 1941
Ever illustrating his vision of literature, Strauch took to pen and ink to create a
visual representation to aid his students' learning.  This 1941 original is owned
by the author.  It measures 9 x 14 inches.

Further evidence of the reverence of Strauch and his humor comes from Lehigh’s Brown and White newspaper.  Cold-war tensions in April 1950 led the editors to publish a tongue-in-cheek story about the end of the world.  Various faculty and students were lampooned into their fictional reactions to such a time.  The article contained the following: “Professor Strauch, campus pedagogue located in “English Hall” has invited all interested persons both university and town, to attend a recital of Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” said recital to be performed by Strauch in person.”

Creation is soul-searching.  Nothing is ever finished.
~Carl Ruggles (1876-1971)

In an analysis of Melville’s Moby Dick, Strauch expounds on the themes of time and suicide.  Whether it be Ishmael’s reason for taking to the sea (“as a substitute for pistol and ball”) or Ahab’s whole self-destructed march toward the end.  Strauch said through this “thematic development” we are to “understand what suicide is.  It is the desire to divest oneself of personality, to escape the oppression of time, and to merge with the nihilism at the heart of the universe.”

Strauch, despondent over Helen’s death and his own battles with depression from at least the 1950s, also wrote his own thoughts for ending his life.  In a letter to his doctor, he spoke of his insatiable need for sleep.
He spoke of three big slumps of “Discord and malaise…Of the symptoms I have listed, only the desire to sleep, and not consistently, remained.  (Not entirely true – I have thought of suicide).”
He even disputed and analyzed himself.  He could count only a few days in the period of months following his wife Helen’s death in January 1971 that he felt fit.  Five months following her death he saw a part in the clouds of his despair.  He wrote, “Today I hope heralds my liberation-a day of feeling good and getting some work done, household and academic.” 
Strauch could give into the temptation of showmanship over tact.  He once darkly chided about the suicide of Cornell professor and Emerson scholar Dr. Stephen E. Whicher (1915-1961), attributing it to the professional jealousy Whicher felt toward Dr. Kenneth W. Cameron (1908-2006).

Whicher was born to two college literature professors.  His middle name was figuratively and literally Emerson.  Though Whicher was a seasoned WWII veteran, he took his own life saying he could not handle the growing tensions of world affairs.  He died November 13, 1961.  (Strauch himself would die on the same date, twenty-eight years later).
Dr. Stephen E. Whicher's suicide came 28 years
to the day before Strauch's own death.  It occured
just months after receiving 

Strauch said Whicher’s suicide was actually over his jealously for Dr. Kenneth W. Cameron’s scholarly upstaging of Whicher’s work.  Cameron was another cordial ally of Strauch’s.

In his first lecture of the 1965 term Strauch however described his friendship with Whicher with trademark audacity.  “Professor Whicher and I had a glowing relationship before he committed suicide.  He had done everything – He had edited the best anthology of Emerson and written the best book on him.”

Kenneth W. Cameron of Trinity College in Hartford “gave me help and advice in my earlier years of research and remained my friend and collaborator.”  Strauch went on to describe Cameron as “indefatigable and trustworthy” and “as for me the greatest research scholar in 19th Century American literature.”

Cameron was another ever stalwart ally of Strauch’s and president of the Emerson Society Quarterly.  One of the studies by Strauch within the volume titled “Initial Love,” examines Emerson’s interpretation of Cupid, “not as a god of love, but as a dynamic life force in man’s evolution.”  (Ownership of Cameron’s personal copy of Strauch’s book, “Characteristics of Emerson Transcendental Poet” of 1974 has been transferred to this author.)

Maurice Gonnaud (1925-2017), an internationally known French scholar, wrote an intellectual biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a lifelong concern of his.  He defended it in 1964 but republished it in 1987 and only came into great acclaim in 2014 titled An Uneasy Solitude: Individual and Society in the Work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Princeton Legacy Library.  In it he cites “Kenneth Cameron, Carl F. Strauch, and the late Stephen Whicher- to cite only three names among many worthy of mention- have contributed to a decisive transformation of our knowledge about and our understanding of Emerson.”
Whicher received an honorary degree from Amhearst
College in June 1961, just five months before his death.

Strauch’s analysis of J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” is still considered a defining critique.  Strauch is cited in Sarah Graham’s book on Salinger’s novel, where she uses Strauch’s own words of “neurotic deterioration” and “psychological self-cure” in his “long, demanding” essay. 

Strauch’s energy emerged and was defined from a life set by his surroundings. The Strauch family came to be amid the miners who lived through the fervor of the Molly Macguires.  In at least one of his letters to Lovecraft, he mentions a family connection to those upheavals.  In later years, his sisters would be interviewed for various Molly Maguire projects of researchers and documentarians.

Lovecraft tapped Strauch for the gritty details of the so-called “Hex Murders” that fascinated the nation in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
This January 1932 hex
murder is perhaps the one
that triggered all the
hysteria.  This Mennonite
brother and church
accountant was found
dead with the crescent
hex symbol carved into
his temples.  His
naked body thrown from

A book written by John George Hohman, from 1818 in Reading, Pennsylvania, known as the “Long Lost Friend,” prescribed and bestowed powers of Pennsylvania Dutch pow-wow or hex (witch) doctors to anyone who possessed it.

The most sensational occurred in York when friends tried to subdue a man who was casting spells upon, and holding power over, his neighbor.  They wanted to take his book and a lock of his hair to bury them to take away his hex doctor’s power.  Instead, the recluse doctor was killed during the struggle.

Another murder of a Mennonite accountant for the church was done in cold blood, the victim left with crescent shapes carved out of the skin of his temples.  An Allentown man was arrested on suspicion of foul deeds.  The scraps of paper in his pockets with known hex symbols on them were enough to book him.

And still another Pennsylvania court case was won by a neighbor who accused the neighboring farmer for hexing his crops by planting things around his fence.  The man responsible for this hex was placed on $1,000 bail for criminal mischief. 

Liddie and Cole tried to capture the enigmatic nature and their fascination of Strauch by collecting notes on his lectures, including unfiltered quips and examples of his “showmanship.”
The temperamental Strauch at times could be hurt and annoyed.

He scoffed at the lack of talent of the “modern” poets. 

A feud over content of the Harvard University Press’ ‘Collection of Works of Emerson: A Definitive, Clear Text Edition,’ a project Strauch worked on for fourteen years ended badly. 

In 1977 the Board drafted a new set of editorial principles which, at least in part, contradicted Strauch’s aims.  A flurry of impatient and perhaps impetuous letters were exchanged leading to Strauch’s bitter resignation in 1978. 

In this letter, Strauch forbade the Board to include his name in this “now repugnant” edition on Emerson.  He discouraged any further correspondence or phone calls from anyone connected to the publication.

It was written: “The Harvard Poems will have far surpassed Strauch’s work when it finally appears, but his presence will be felt there.”

Letters to Germany:
Strauch could also be warm, as in his letters to his distant German cousins.
As far as can be determined, the letter writing was established between Strauch’s mother Anna-Margaret (Foesch) and the mother of Else (Adolph) Muller of Freiberg, Germany.  The mantle carried forward by Lizzie and Margaret to Carl, and then from 2009 to 2010 it was once again picked up again by this author. 

It was shortly after the war when the Strauch family (notably Strauch’s unmarried sister Elizabeth) sent care packages to their German family who were in want of basic necessities like clothes pins and baking flour.  This act of kindness was never forgotten by the Adolph family, as subsequent letters to this day attest.  Hanna, daughter of Else Adolph Muller, and this author continue the correspondence that began with the Strauchs over a century ago.  (Three letters were exchanged before I received the untimely letter from Else’s daughter Hanna informing us that Else had passed away.)
It appears that it wasn’t just the American cousins who had a taste for literature.  In a letter from December 1977, Else wrote “I just wrote your sister Margaret and now it’s your turn…Tomorrow night Otto (her husband) and I are going to hear a lecture on Goethe in Hessen.  One never knows too much of the history of one’s home country.”
Anna-Margaret (Foesch) Strauch near the end of her life.  She was still connected
to her family back in Freiberg Germany.

The bloodline lost, but the allegiance continued.  When Anna-Margaret died in March 1945, just two months before VE Day, her obituary stated she still had a sibling living in her home country. 

Their bonds strengthened by the act of humanity and kindness, Elizabeth Strauch’s love and kinship was not forgotten even some sixty years later.  Else Adolph Muller’s granddaughter, born in 1994, was bestowed with the name “Elizabeth” to enshrine the name back to Germany where it all started.
Though it was unclear just how the Adolph's and Strauch's were related, it is clear that Else (Adolph) Muller held up her end in Germany in keeping the family connected across the ocean via parcel post.  This author only discovered her address amid Strauch's papers in January 2010 and had eight months of correspondence with her.  Her daughter Hanna informed
me of her passing in July 2010.  She included the following poem from Gertrud von le Fort that Else selected a few months before her passing.  It appears here translated by Hanna: "Do not welcome me when I am arriving.  Do not bid me
farewell when I am leaving.  For I am coming and I am leaving whenever I am  leaving."  Else Muller, like her Strauch family cousins,  was also a teacher.   She taught English in the Freiberg public schools. 
The Dery Family:

Helen Dery had two older brothers.  Oldest was George Dery, who earned his bachelors from Lafayette College in Easton and his law degree from Harvard.  Charles Frederick Dery, the middle child, was educated at the Hill School, a private boarding school in Pottstown.  He was a Princeton graduate.  At the Hill School, Charles served as associate editor of The Dial yearbook under editor-in-chief F. A. O. Schwarz II. 
Charles F. Dery's senior
picture from the Hill
School yearbook.

Frederick August Otto Schwarz was the grandson of the New York City toy store founder.  He later earned his law degree and briefly ran the company from 1931 to 1932 after the death of his father Henry.  George was the first to switch coasts when he headed to San Mateo California in the 1920s.  Later on his little brother joined him.  George a law writer while Charles worked as a writer and drama study at local theater groups.  He later moved to San Francisco and wrote for the San Francisco Call Bulletin.  The Dery family continued to maintain a summer home in Camden, Maine.

Charles F. Dery wrote many letters to Strauch, some from Maine (in 1982), and others from San Francisco.  “As a pantheist I must question your use of expression “bad weather” or else I shall be punished by the spirit behind the inanimate universe.  Why not call it inclement?  Quotes John Ruskin, "Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow exhilarating."  Charles goes on to say, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."  He ends by quoting Strauch back on his own lines of his last letter: "I daresay we both have come home safely."

Strauch the Critic, the Curmudgeon:

Ever the critic, Strauch scribbled on the edges of the pages of a copy of the ‘American Scholar:’ “Horrible examples of current ‘poetry.”  The page referred to two poems: ‘Daddies’ by James L. Calderwood and “The Land of Nod” by Alice Wirth Gray.

Curmudgeon Strauch once relayed the following to Liddie about summer heat and a reticent summer-intern, grad-assistant.  In record 95-degree heat, in his second floor apartment, without air-conditioning, papers sweating to his forearms, wearing only his shorts, his back stuck to the chair, Strauch pulled together the lion-share on his article “Hatred’s Swift Repulses.”  Strauch delivered his dead-pan disdain of his fair-weather friend who said he “hadn’t much done, it was too hot.”

In another episode, Strauch was called down to Washington D.C. to take part in a roundtable, to serve yet again as contributing editor to another Emerson anthology.  The only information known from that trip are now forever known in his notes as “that D.C. fiasco.”
Perhaps one of his last photographs from Lehigh,
most likely after he retired during emeritus status
days, a more weary and deserted Strauch.

Strauch complained to Lovecraft about what passes for good fiction in those days.  Lovecraft replied, “I heartily agree with you regarding the lame inadequacy of nearly everything that passes for weird fiction in the popular magazines-to say nothing of more pretentious specimens.”  Strauch also panned J.S. Fletcher (1863-1935) who was primarily a detective writer but also a writer of weird novels at turn of century.

Lovecraft often referred sympathy back on Strauch for things large and small.  “Sorry your eyes have been bothering you…” and “You have my sympathy regarding the tutoring- but it helps, at least, if the subjects are willing and earnest.”  This was a recurring theme for him.  He was often quoted as saying to his students in regard to their reluctant study of Emerson: “Oh but they flock to that which they hate/scorn.”

A recurring theme of Strauch was how, of cycles of nature, of successive generations of minds, could transcend time.  From his article and lectures of “Romanticism and the Organic Metaphor” he writes, “Our perceptions magnetize our reading as when we link writers in theme, motif, and psychological awareness, though they are separated by a hundred years, geography, nationality and class.”  He oft spoke of transcendence, and thus so became his life’s work.

Transcendental Man:
Strauch had a filial friendship with Henry Louis Mencken, the American journalist and satirist, known for his coverage of the Scopes Trial, dubbing it as the “Monkey Trial.”
Both Mencken and Strauch lost loved ones to the ‘consumption’ of tuberculosis.  The former, his wife of five years, the latter his beautiful sister, Caroline, also known as ‘Lena.’  It was plain to all that Lena was father’s favorite, the only one who could pull a gleam from a mostly gloomy persona. 

Both men lost their wives, as Strauch’s wife Helen, a heavy smoker, died from a long, struggle with brain tumors 1971.  Adding disconsolateness to a man already stuck in a “psychological swamp” of depression, Strauch implored “God and the Saints, and Helen my saint of suffering, help me.”

Strauch’s poem “One Living to One Dead,” published fifteen years after his sister Lena’s October 1917 death, speaks grandly of what aromas they could smell together, ending with: “Crowning the azure loveliness, Of an October dusk!...And in the conniving dusk, Fate led you down a dark road, Toward a grove of cypresses, And there she put up, The too brilliant sword, Of your perfection.  She murdered all the little singing birds, And all their ghosts went whistling down the wind.”
The ending of Strauch's One Living to One Dead poem from page 36 of his
1932 book of poems. 

Lovecraft complemented Strauch in an October 1931 letter “delighted” with his poems, “especially the autumn piece.  Of poetic gifts there can be no question and I am sure Allentown must be a notable abode of the Muses if it can produce many genuine rivals!  You have the true poet’s sense of symbols and images, and a highly enviable command of the right words and rhythms for their aptest conveyance.”  Apparently he must have told Lovecraft of his poetic Lehigh Valley competition.

In October, 1931, Lovecraft wrote, “I am aware that your part of Pennsylvania is rich in folklore and superstitions-but was surprised when Brobst told me of the prevalence of weird beliefs in the cities as well as the rural districts.  Such superstition as New England still retains is confined wholly to the remotest backwoods…”

Allentown man arrested with "hex" notes in his pocket
that hoped to cure bleeding and stop pain.

Lovecraft also gave this spot on assessment of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, saying “This kind of thing ought to be studied soon, I imagine, if it is to be encountered in its pristine purity; for a generation or two of modern standardized life with radios, cinema, tabloids, and cheap magazines will leave very little of the ancient folk-heritage.”

In December 1932 Lovecraft wrote: “Those “hex” circles on your barns are intensely interesting and I had never heard of them before.  I certainly must see this region someday.” 

In August, Lovecraft wrote to Derleth saying, “I find that there is still a whole region in the U.S. where witchcraft is believed as uniformly and implicitly as in the Salem of 1692.  It is the Lehigh Valley region of PA, where the ‘hex’ murders attracted attention a few years ago.  I thought that those a rather isolated vestigial case, but I now have two bright young correspondents in Allentown who (themselves as skeptical as I) indicate widespread surviving belief…some quasi-hypnotic psychological menace, a sheriff who wanted to search his garage.  The country folks paint on their barn gables great circles filled with labyrinthine lines- to entrap any ‘hexes’ who may have designs on their livestock and grain.” (From H. P. Lovecraft Letters to J. Vernon Shea, Carl F. Strauch, and Lee McBride White, by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, 2016.)

Strauch had a youth’s fascination with death. 
The Luther's Catechism shared by two of Strauch's sisters from their
days of living at Hacklebernie, the words still studied in the original
German at that time.  Katie (1890-1986) married the socialist Floyd Harrier
and Carolina 'Lena' (1892-1917), perhaps the fairest of the Strauchs in
beauty, died of consumptive tuberculosis in October 1917.  

All of the Strauch siblings were raised in the Lutheran faith, the older ones in Hacklebernie and Lehighton.  He once recalled how he and his nearest sister Margaret walked in the dark and snow to Christmas matins and how enamored he was with the whole effect.  Carl was confirmed at St Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Allentown, April 5, 1925.

But he had a turning away after his confirmation, “I expected great things…I looked under every table at the altar for angels’ wings…but alas, experienced nothing.”

Strauch made notes in the margins of transcendentalist George Ripley’s 1882 posthumous biography.  Ripley quoted reads, “…unless a minister is to speak out on all subjects which are uppermost in his mind, with no fear of incurring the charge of heresy.”  To which Strauch handwriting reads, “A minister should speak out.” 
Where Ripley said, “…formality and coldness which are breathed from the atmosphere of our churches,” Strauch noted “Church is dead.”
Strauch's wife's death in January
1971 created disharmony in his life.

Disobedience- Father and Daughter:

Strauch had more than a passing affection for disobedience.  In his defense of saying he “resigned from the human race in 1939,” Strauch replied with a litany of influences from literary history, from Emerson’s opinion of the avariciousness of America to his love for Thoreau’s ‘Necessity of Civil Disobedience, to Mark Twain’s reference to “the damned human race.” 

Liddie once quoted Matthew Arnold to Strauch, that literature must be a “criticism of life” to which Strauch heartily agreed. 

He wrote to Liddie: “Of course, some of the alienation I encountered rubbed off on me.  I made the remark about resigning from the human race in the early 1950s, and you must have caught it on the wing.  1939 was not really a good year to hand in a resignation; I would have better advised to choose 1914, when I was six and the wholesale murder began.” 

He said his friend Mencken would have called resignation absurd because he so enjoyed witnessing the spectacle of man’s folly and political carnival.

Strauch also counted Robinson Jeffers to be a “great and good friend.”  Jeffer’s quip “I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk,” resonated with Strauch who added “Ditto for polar bears.”  

 “We are all of us too late to have experienced an unmolested, unexploited American nature as the Indian knew it.  Is the magnificent wildlife of central Africa to go the way of our American wildlife?”  Strauch quoted Bernhard Grzimek, director of the Frankfort Zoo in the 1950s and 60s, “From the Rockies to Siberia it’s been the same sad story – slaughter and extermination.” 
All the living Strauch siblings among their books in
the family homestead in Allentown in the early 1970s.
L-R: Carl, Margaret, Leonard, unknown, Henry, and
Elizabeth "Lizzie."  Neither Margaret, Leonard, nor
Lizzie ever married nor didany of them ever own their
own car.  Lizzie, the family 'matriarch' after
her mother died continued the care packages and letters
to Germany.  She was a Christian-Scientist.  All
were avid readers.

Cold War threats were made very real to him from letters from his cousin in Friedberg Germany in April 1960. Else Adolph Muller wrote: “Will you please remember us to your sister, we have to thank her for a letter in winter and her Easter greetings…So you understand the great fear in our lives, that of Russia whose border is not far away from us, and we are in great concern for our people in Eastern Germany.”

In the shadow of Vietnam, the recent Roe v. Wade decision, the Yom Kippur War in Israel, and the federal response to the occupation at Wounded Knee, forty-five members of the Lehigh University teaching staff took out a full-page ad in the March 9, 1974 edition of the Brown and White.  It pictured Albert Schweitzer along with the quote: “When we lose respect for any form of life, we diminish all life.”  Certainly the same sentiment expressed by Strauch’s daughter.

It is unclear if he anointed Helen “Dery” Strauch with his sense of man’s inhumanity via transcendent holy waters or if it were merely through the grace of the Holy Spirit, but “Dery” took on the mantle not just in words.  (She was named after her mother, her middle name used in their home.)
Helen Dery Strauch Woodson served on Liberty High School's 'Life'
newspaper staff.  This photo from the 1960 yearbook.

From the books on his shelves, the telling phrases in his works, and the friends he admired, it is easy to see Strauch’s affinity for spotlighting man’s inherent inhumanity against himself and his dissatisfaction with religion.  He seemed to stir with disobedience and he sought to correct it through his words. 

His “Lone Wolf” status and temperament was both a blessing for his studiousness and scholarly analysis and dramatic teaching style; While alienated those with differences of style and tact.  To Strauch, people were either acceptable or not.  With him, there was little middle ground.

H. P. Lovecraft’s influence on the young Strauch should not be overlooked.  To have Lovecraft who was an unflinching force, an influential, persistent and faithful letter-writer, and above all one wholly interested in the support and mentoring of young writers, one cannot discount the effect this had on our burgeoning writer.

 However, it is possible that Strauch’s solitary attempt at a novel and Lovecraft’s subsequent and fair critique of it may have hastened the end of both their friendship and any further pursuits toward fiction.

Lovecraft’s editor and collaborator was August Derleth (1909-1971).  Lovecraft said this to him of Strauch: “I reached home just in time to welcome young Strauch, who had come from Allentown to visit Brobst and me.  He is a delightful youth-slim, dark, handsome, and extremely brilliant- and I believe he will go far in the poetic field.”
In late June 1933, Lovecraft wrote another member of his inner circle, Robert Bloch (1917-1994).  He sent Bloch Strauch’s address and the following: “Poet with one published book to his credit…Delightful and affable-he visited Providence last summer and will probably come again this September.  Enthusiast in Germanic literature.  Rather anti-scientific by temperament-affording material for heated and interesting arguments with Brobst.”

It appears that Strauch and Derleth did indeed have their own friendship.    In a May 1933 letter to Strauch, Lovecraft gently chided Strauch about upon hearing about Strauch’s plans to visit Derleth in Sauk City.  Incidentally, Strauch’s only daughter would later move to Madison, a mere twenty-four miles away.  Derleth died in Sauk City on July 4th, 1971 at the age of 62.  Helen Dery Strauch Woodson moved there in the middle 1960s. 
This book list appeared in the July 1932 Hartford Courant featured
Strauch's book of poems.
The 1932 publication by Humphries Press, Boston.
The Lost Manuscript:

After his 1932 Twenty-Nine Poems, he set his sights on the American novel.  Though the manuscript has been lost to time, a fortunate peek into the characters and tenor of his story can be found in the Joshi and Schultz “Lovecraft” book. 

Strauch sent the 280-page typed manuscript to Lovecraft in July 1933.  Lovecraft assembled a “near-convention,” a “spirited triangular session” with E. Hoffman Price, Brobst, and himself.  They covered ten pages with Price reading the piece aloud while Lovecraft took kind-hearted notes. 

Lovecraft reminded Strauch, more than once, that they realized this to be his first attempt at story.  Hence Price’s “pointers” shouldn’t “be taken as actual derogation.”  He seems to try to soften any perceived blows on his work in many ways, at one point stating that Price “is quite the carper” and he “brought up all sorts of minute matters…which would never have occurred to me at all.”

Lovecraft also said “there is damned good stuff in this story” and with a few changes “it ought to have a chance with Wright.”  Farnsworth Wright was a key editor for Weird Tales and no doubt another good friend of Lovecraft that he tried to connect to Strauch.  He also suggested that he send it to Derleth, but that he could be “savage in his candor” either as is or after he revises it.  But he prepped Strauch for disappointment judging by the way Derleth “lit on J. Vernon Shea’s work.”

Clues to the tone and tenor of the story can be found in several telling comments.  He compared it to Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray.  He mentions it should be shorted by cutting out excessive descriptions and “whimsical character-touches” and “suggestions of scholarship.”  And although he felt it didn’t have enough “dark tenseness for a macabre theme,” he does tell Strauch to “soft-peddle” on any references to bestiality or “anything suggesting abnormal eroticism.”  They all agreed it should have less “smartness” as well as “paradox and other incongruous elements suggesting the Wilde tradition…Be more direct and simple.”

The triumvirate suggested making the Hopkins character less of a “pretty-boy” unless Strauch chance his book be associated in the style of the popular Yellow Book magazine of the day. 

Other characters in the novel were Meininglake and von Hohenloe.  Though he suggests cutting back on describing these seven, old-time philosophers, he begs to learn more about the one named Hohenloe.  There was also a long-dead sorcerer. 

The climax occurs when Meininglake’s dead body, shot up, transforms back to the living.  He tells him to cut down on the explanations of this “violation of the basic laws of nature.”  Instead, make it seem so plausible that the reader will hesitate to question it as real.  He says as written, it has a “far-fetchedness” to it all.   

Lovecraft suggested making some thread of continuity between the old philosophers and the current scene.  And though he says it matters not where the setting takes place, he does suggest setting it within the context of Pennsylvania Dutch folklore.  He also suggested that there should be some sort of handing down of the legend from the German to the Dutch roots. 

It would seem that some of Strauch’s characterization can be traced back to Thomas Carlyle.  Carlyle spoke of the devil being the true ruler of the world.  And if man would live in eternity, stressed the need to live in the timeless present of love, religion, and art. 

Carlyle used an old German philosopher known as Teufelsdroeckh whom Strauch spoke of and wrote of in his lectures and essays.  It was this character who quoted of love, religion, and art transcending time: “A discerning of the Infinite in the Finite, of the Idea made Real.”  

To which Strauch said, “Similarly with religion and art, even though, in the long run, time will deface these symbols of man’s striving.”   When translated from the German, Teufelsdroeckh means ‘god-born, devil’s dung.’  

In a follow-up letter a week later, Lovecraft suggests letting “Comte d’Erlette” take a look at the manuscript, a reference to Derlerth again.  ‘D’Erlette’ was a character in Robert Bloch novels.  The inspiration for the name comes from the ancestral form of Derleth’s name.

Lovecraft ends with more encouragement.  “I have no doubt but that after a few experiments you will produce notable results.  In the course of time-after you have applied all the finishing touches of revision that you wish-I hope to see your novel.”

How much more time Strauch devoted to this project is unclear.  Their cordial letters end a month later.  There is nothing uncovered to date of any further work on this project by him. 

With his courtship of Helen out and away on the horizon, Strauch’s job at Muhlenberg was about to evaporate, and both his and the national depression deepened. 
It was time for a change.

Passing the Cairn:
One of Strauch’s most intriguing lines, written in his own hand without the benefit of any context: “But as one passes the cairn, one compulsively drops his little stone.” 
When in the presence of greatness, one is humbled by his own little works.  We all make our own way. 

His longings to both stride and swipe at his 19th century heroes are glaringly apparent.  A concept that was not lost on his daughter, Helen Dery Woodson.

From his notes Strauch quoted from Thoreau: “The soil it appears, is suited to the seed, for it has sent its radicle downward, and it may now send its shoot upward also with confidence.  Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above?”  In the margins, Strauch wrote, “Man, having died, should be reborn.”

It must be pondered: how much of Strauch was Strauch, and how much of the man did he allow himself to be?  He was considered by some to be a living repository of Emerson, Melville and Salinger.  How much of that scholarly concentration stayed in his head, and how much of it was truly felt in his heart is anyone’s guess. 

The fact that he shared a life of loneliness with his invalid wife, the ‘poor suffering saint Helen’, and that at such a young age, and in a time of need, what drew his only child away. 

Dery would subsequently immerse herself into her own zealousness, dedicating her work to “her father.”  In the end, what was it he had in this world?  Did he achieve transcendence?  Or was he simply seeking the psychological self-cure in his works and letters of the Romantics?
Sober and Intent - Helen Dery Strauch Woodson's
1960 yearbook picture from Liberty High School,
Bethlehem, PA.

Perhaps he was stifled by the lack of words spoken from his stern father and severe mother, ironically, those words are now locked and persevered in the Linderman library. 

And so, after some three years removed from Helen’s death and with forty years of “distinguished teaching,” Strauch retired from Lehigh in May 1974.  His house on High Street becoming the static tomb of his declining years.  Alone.

The Disobedient Daughter:

“Both my mother and father shared the same birthday, September 25th…I still adore them both.”

Helen Dery Strauch Woodson still admires the man.  Strauch said to her during one of her prison sentences, “You have lived out my ideals.”

“Dery” (Helen Dery Strauch was named after her mother but called Dery to avoid confusion in the house.) was the only child of Helen and Carl.  She became the very embodiment of the civil disobedience that Strauch taught.

Strauch once said of being a father and professor, “As I grew somewhat older and became a father, reading Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows to my offspring, I added affection to my feelings for my students.”
He developed serial characters at bedtime including a memorable series about two mischievous elves. 

Dery remembers her father being extremely lovable and available to her.  Besides their mutual love of baseball, she remembers attending nearly every Lehigh football game with her father.  Her parents also made an intricate doll house.  The structure built by Strauch in his woodshop.  The tiny upholstered furniture and window drapery were sewn by her mother Helen. 

Dery had one natural child of her own and adopted eleven more, living out her deep felt religious beliefs. 
A newspaper stock photo
of Helen Dery Strauch Woodson
from her Gaudete Peace Center
days in Madison, WI.
The story goes that one day, Woodson and her young son David found a pro-life pamphlet in the street. 

It was not only a teachable moment for them both, but a life-altering one as well.  It was then and there when Dery decided to adopt as many children as possible, especially ones apparently cast away.

All of her foster and adopted children had some sort of mental or physical handicap, believing in taking care of all of God’s abandoned children.  She then formed the Gaudete Center for Peace in Madison.  

Dery’s mother Helen was sick most of her life.  “She was obviously sick when I was eight, very sick when I was twelve.”

Aunt Margaret’s home became a sanctuary.  “I had two weeks in summer for a wonderful vacation and several times a week during the summer of 1959 when I had a job at Adams Clothing Store in Allentown.”

Helen Strauch had good stretches and bad, her recurring meningioma made life a struggle with seizures and small strokes.  “She was in good health in July 1964 when my son David was born.  She stayed with me in Wisconsin for his birth for three weeks…She was able to meet my first adopted son Ethan in 1970,” Dery said.  In the intervening years she was very ill, almost dying in 1967.  Helen Strauch finally succumbed in January 1971.
An early 1970s picture of Strauch in his Lehigh office suite.  With the death
of his muse Helen in 1971 and with his daughter Dery living in Madison,
Strauch increasingly relied on his renewed connections to his sister and
brother-in-law to ease the daily pains of living.

Her death sent Carl deeper into what he referred to as his “psychological swamp,” his varying in intensity battle with depression he claimed to have fought since the 1950s.

Some fifteen years after it was first published, Strauch took on a defining analysis of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.  Perhaps this coincided with his only daughter’s ascendance to her rebellious teen years.  Perhaps the timing resulted from indications of Dery’s future peace activities.

Dery was seventeen when he published Kings in the Back Row: Meaning through Structure in Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature, Winter 1961.  To this day many critical discussions of Salinger begin by establishing whether you are with Strauch or not because of this definitive piece.

Strauch understands, perhaps accepts, Holden’s perniciousness through Whitman’s view of accepting evil as part of the life-process as the personality “lets go.”  And thus “such Zen riddling easily translatable into existentialist understanding.”
Strauch balances this internal conflict between “organic and the mechanistic, the secret and the public, reality and appearance, awakening and death.  The Catcher hits off the strongest Romantic affirmations from Goethe and Wordsworth down to Lawrence, and Joyce.  Whether at Walden Pond, at Weissnichtwo (Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus fictitious town translates to“I know not where”), or in New York hot spots, the problem of personality remains; one surmises that, after a century and more, as A Portrait of the Artist and Steppenwolf (Hesse) likewise indicate, the struggle has become intensified.” 

“At the close of The Catcher the gap between society and the individual has widened perceptibly, and far from repudiating Holden’s secret world, Salinger has added a secret of psychological depth.”  “Holden is another bothersome case of arrested development, albeit rather charming in a pathetic and oafish manner.”

Strauch perhaps found his own paternal solace in The Catcher’s ambiguous ending with this summation: “Whatever the dreadful odds, the human spirit, though slain, refuses to stay dead; it is forever hearing the cock crow, forever responding to the Everlasting Yea….So the odds have not become too dreadful.  If, as this reading interprets the book, the scales tip in favor of the affirmation, it is so because the history of youth is almost always hopeful.”

Perhaps his understanding of rebellious youth helped Dery “let go.”

The Widened Gap between Society and Self:
The Silo Pruning Hooks - Helen Dery Strauch Woodson, Father Carl Kabat, Father John Kabat, and Lawrence Jacob Cloud- Morgan, with jack-hammer compressor as a backdrop, pictured here just before they entered the N5 nuclear missile silo area they would all be arrested for in November 1984. 

Helen Dery Strauch Woodson was jailed several times prior to her breaking into a nuclear silo area N5 in November 1984.

It appears that the late summer of 1982 was a turning point for Woodson.  In early August her and her friends in Madison Wisconsin staged a “die-in.”  Actors pretended to succumb to a nuclear blast.  Dressed as the grim reaper, Helen sprinkled imitation blood on the “victims.” 
Helen Dery Strauch Woodson portrayed
the grim-reaper in a mock "die-in" in
Madison, Wisconsin in August 1982.
This was only the beginning of
increasingly bold demonstrations
of her civil disobedient beliefs.

The sprinkling of blood would become a running thread.

A month later, she was arrested by the Secret Service for splashing a red substance somewhere in the State Floor area (which contains the Blue Room, State Dining Room, and etc.) of the White House.  The substance was flung onto the floor, walls, and a set of flags.

Strauch tried to hide his daughter’s peace activism away from his family, especially from his sister Margaret who essentially became Dery’s second mother.

Dery’s first jail stint occurred from a civil disobedience arrest in Washington D.C. in 1982.  According to Dery, Strauch didn’t think his sister would understand.  So he told her Dery was on a ‘religious retreat’ for several months and would be out of contact.  Margaret accepted that. 

But after the White House incident and a six-month sentence Strauch “over-reached.”  He told his sister she was on a six-month world speaking tour on nuclear disarmament. 
September 1982

Margaret wasn’t buying it, so she called Dery’s home in Madison and spoke to her friends taking care of her children.  According to Dery, to them she implored, “You know where my favorite niece is and you’re going to tell me!”  And they did.

Margaret wrote to her and visited her once in her Washington D.C. jail.  “She offered me $1,000 if I promised never to do “it” again,” Dery said.  She wrote back and said, “I needed the $1,000 so I could afford to do it again.”

Months later, Dery’s co-defendant and long-time friend Father Carl Kabat drove Dery home from D.C. back to Madison, making a foray into the Lehigh Valley to visit Strauch as well as Margaret. 

“We spent two days in Allentown and Bethlehem.  Aunt Margaret took us and my dad out to dinner.  When we took her home after the meal, Carl (Kabat) walked her to the door and was inside for a few minutes.”

As they drove away for the return leg to Madison, Dery asked Kabat how they were fixed for cash.  To this he answered, “I don’t know about you, but I have a check for $1,000 in my pocket!”
Lawrence Jacob Cloud-Morgan jackhammers silo lid for this publicity
photo taken by Father Kabat's "holy spirit."  The jackhammer broke down
after only a few minutes work.

Father Carl Kabat and his brother John were both ordained priests in the Missionary Oblates Mary Immaculate, a French order based in Rome.  They along with Lawrence Jacob Cloud-Morgan a Native American leader of the Ojibway Nation formed a group known as the Silo Pruning Hooks.  The name they derived from Isaiah 2:4- “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”

On November 12, 1984 the four rented a 90-pound jackhammer.  With bolt-cutters, they cut through the minimum security fencing to gain access to the open field of the government’s N5 missile silo.  They also brought bread and wine, a book of prayers, and a baby bottle filled with imitation blood, and a multi-colored quilt inscribed with the words “Violence ends where love begins.”
The Silo Pruning Hooks with their quilt shortly before
entering the missile silo area.  The apprehension on Father
John Kabat (left), and perhaps the others, is palpable.

Carl Kabat also arranged for a person known only as his “holy spirit” to tag behind the four to snap pictures and to deliver the copies of the film and their press release to the media outlets in Kansas City.  Their picture outside the fence just before their action shows the glee on Carl’s face, while his brother John’s shows the apprehension and reservation he had about the action as he later disclosed during his long incarceration.

Much has been written about their trail and their highly unusual self-defense at their federal trial.  However, instead of having the desired deterring affect, Dery’s imprisonment for the silo incident only served to harden her resolve.  

Each time a parole date was set with the possibility of a commuted sentence, Woodson threatened that they were only hastening to the day when she would once again strike out for peace.  

Despite her remonstrations, the court finally took a chance on her.  Upon her release in 1993, she remained true to her words. 

Dery’s actions went beyond the approved methods of the sanctioning national groups to which she belonged.  Even the Nuclear Resistor and other groups decried her methods.

For Strauch’s final years, Dery couldn’t have been any farther away from him.  In the late 1980s, she was incarcerated in various California federal incarnation centers.
Three days after her release in 1993, on parole from the Whiteman AFB protest, Dery used an unloaded starter’s pistol to get $25,000 from an Illinois bank teller.  She proceeded to pile the money on the floor and set the pile on fire.
Helen Dery Strauch Woodson's
last protest: Robbing $25k from
a bank only to burn the it,
landed her back in jail from 2004
to 2011.

She told witnesses: “Money is evil.  You don’t believe in God; you only worship money.”  She was convicted of bank robbery and other violations and was sentenced to more than nine years in prison.

More about Helen Dery Strauch Woodson’s peace activism career with subsequent arrests and releases can be found in the End Notes of this story.  She was eventually released in September 2011.  

Once out, she finally disavowed any further disobedience, exchanged to remain among her grandchildren. 

And so far, she has been true to those words.

Coda for a Time-Traveler:

While Dery served her time in California, Strauch began to flounder at home. 
It was in those years that this author saw a different man.  The puff and the bluster remained only in thin whiffles, his mind no longer entirely attached to certainty.
He had feathered his bed with many laurels over the years. 

In 1962, Strauch received the Lindbeck Foundation Award to “honor distinguished teaching performed during the college year by a member of the Lehigh University faculty. 

In 1970 he achieved Lehigh’s distinction of “Distinguished Professor of English.” 
He was awarded the honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Muhlenberg in 1973.

He was a life member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Modern Language Association, and the Emerson Society. 

But in his last years of clarity, he enjoyed renewed correspondence, for leisure, for family.  His brother-in-law, San Francisco writer and theater performer Charles F. Dery, tried to keep Strauch’s best interests in mind.

In a November 1981 letter, Charles repeats Strauch’s own words back to him.  He quoted, “‘Oh these sleepless nights, 3-4 hours of nocturnal insomnia,’ your description of growing old distresses me: ‘Little by little, increasingly, by slow degrees, mentally and physically, somewhat disconcerting and painful.  We are not what we were.’  Speak for yourself John Alden Strauch!”   

Charles F. Dery’s last known address was 834 Leavenworth St #305, San Francisco, CA 94109.  This author has sadly tried to locate any remnants of this branch of the Dery family to no avail.

In January, a protective Charles Dery wrote the following: “I hope you had a happy Christmas dinner at your sister’s as I did here…make it a best new year ever by moving away from the Lehigh Valley…”

Dinners were only temporary interludes of familial integration for Strauch and his sister Margaret who still lived in the family rowhome at 716 N. Eleventh St, Allentown.  She ever implored the ever obstinate Strauch to adjoin with her there.
Charles Dery’s postscript was heartfelt and paints a sad picture of this socially viable man with few friends and family nearby: “P.S. I have seen you toiling up High Street hill during a terrifically hot summer’s day and my heart went out to you when I saw that look of pain on your face…Get away from Bethlehem!”

He died November 13, 1989.  It was several days before anyone discovered that his life had lapsed.  His faithful dog by his side.

He was ever the Romantic, a seeker of eternal truth.  Perhaps a man born in a different time. 

Strauch once quoted Hermann Hesse: “Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell…only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap.”

Strauch’s lectures and analysis are stoked with the study of time. 

He said, “In the womb of the imagination an intellectual concept is clothed in literary flesh.” 

He explained how Hawthorne and Melville struggled with the overlap in time of two ages and in how our European and American origins and conditions overlapped.  “It was the overlapping that perplexed Hawthorne to the point of exhaustion; it drove Melville nearly mad.”

Emerson said, “If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of Revolution?  When the old and the new stand side by side and admit of being compared…when the energies of all men are searched by fear and hope…”

He quoted Hawthorne on his character Dimmesdale: “It is the unspeakable misery of a life so false as his that it steals the pith and substance out of whatever realities there are around us…To the untrue man the whole universe is false.”
So, Strauch concluded, “Time is, of course, the enemy that must be transcended, though it should be apparent from the suggestions already laid before the reader that the curse of time grows out of ourselves.”  
Strauch found metaphysical doctrines in Emerson’s private words.  He quoted that “there is one mind common to all individual men” which essentially nullifies time. 
“Ah,” reads one of Emerson’s journal entries, “we must have some gift of transcending time.” 
In poetry, Emerson tells, how man allies himself with the eternal, since “poetry was all written before time was.”  (Hesse once wrote, “We had talked about the creations of poetry being more vivid and real than the poets themselves,” The Journey to the East.)
He makes the point that all human progress goes in a circle or rather on an ascending spiral curve “While we fancy ourselves going straight forward, and attaining at every step, an entirely new positon of affairs, we do actually return to something long ago tried and abandoned, but which we now find etherealized, refined, and perfected to its ideal.”
“The past is but a course and sensual prophesy.”
Strauch’s life bridged the lives of his mother and father were from the Old Country.  Certainly Heinrich’s disposition could have been forged in the misery of the Franco-Prussian War.  Wurttemberg, Alsace-Lorraine where the Strauchs were from was the focal point of that conflict, a tossed about pawn.   
He held parchment touched and perspired upon by Emerson.  He stood with figurative shoulders to revolutionaries.  He straddle numerous epochs, transformed hundreds of students.
He felt, in the end, only man’s love will survive. 
He wrote, “In three areas may man escape and transcend time - in love, religion, and art. 
However he added a coda to this with regard to religion and art.  “Even though, in the long run, time will deface these symbols of man’s striving.”  Though a hardened and christened Lutheran, time caused religion’s luster to fade for Strauch. 

So for Strauch, only his love would survive.

He has transcended time.  Strauch loved his fate: Amor fati.


In 1984, the Library of America contacted Strauch by letter to ask for his help on its collection of Emerson poetry. 

His reply was starkly Strauch: “I am long past such endeavors…I have been out of touch even with my own work.”  “I shall make no further attempt to place the book, but shall return it to the top shelf from which I took it.”

Forever the critic and scholar, Uncle Carl Strauch annotated until the end. One of the last articles he probably ever read, he underlined this quote: “The great fact of human equality before God is not one to let the heart remain cold.” 
The vivacious Margaret Strauch, the second
youngest child to Heinrich and Anna-Margaret
Strauch.  Besides my grandmother, the oldest Strauch,
Great Aunt Margaret was my favorite.  Though I
do not remember her with any color in her hair as
seen in this picture that captures her spirit, I do
remember an incredibly kind and patient woman
who guided me in my youth.  Her perfect skin was only
the surface to her beauty.  I miss her dearly.

The word ‘cold’ was circled, to which he tagged with his own words, “Be warm.”
After his May 1974 retirement, he grew in kinship with his remaining siblings.  He and his sister Margaret, the youngest two, were closest of all.  He had time to be warmly affectionate with her and together they shared many memories of their youth.

He shared this memory in a letter to Bob Cole, one of the last he sent him.  Surely, as he stared into his own last days, Carl was waxing nostalgic.  “Margaret and I became attracted to crepe-marked homes after the funeral of an aunt…we would go into them in mock mourning, even if they were strange to us.”

His now almost brotherly relationship with Alex Liddie grew more affectionate.  He was best man when Alex took his second wife in 1977.

Strauch was said about religion and on the changes of the mind as age sweeps past: “In my old age I am now a rationalist without at all abandoning respects, thanks, and curiosity for the forms of belief that I have passed through, or that have passed through me.  I continue to have a great devotion to the nature poets.”

Strauch concluded with, “In a long lifetime a person gradually grows out of one form of mind and character into another, and all these possibilities were lodged in his genes.  Whitman was a master in expressing this secret, this torment, this puzzle.”

Questions were now being posed from his Strauch persona to himself as CarlBe warm

He began to write of doubt, the years immersed in Emerson, was there something he missed along the way?  He enjoyed detective stories and ancient history.  He and Helen collected and read over 1,000 detective stories, mostly English whodunits: Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, and of course those of Sherlock Holmes.

Carl’s life, his chosen path, of wading through the middlemen of religion and philosophy, was reaching its terminus.  Daily rapport of his colleagues, the buzz of his students, a long fifteen years of retirement, of exile.  His suffering saint Helen was long gone, her memory…was she just a Muse? 

Helen Dery was miles away in prison. 

Helen Dery said, “A couple of years before his death, he told me that I had lived out his ideals.  We remained very close throughout his life.”

Her last conversation occurred on his birthday a few weeks before his death.  Toward the end of the conversation, he asked her if she’d “received his recent letter.” 
“Concerned, I said ‘no,’ when did you mail it?”

He laughed then said, “I didn’t send you a letter…I just wanted to see if you were still on your toes.” 

Carl was living out the ravages of age and frigid metaphors. 
He glossed over all of it with this:

“But it’s in the winter, when the cold is encamped about my house and a blizzard is raging that I’ll take off the shelves one of my great favorites, Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors, with a Scotch or bourbon on the rocks within pleasant reach.”

Cozy words to imagine.

~                                                                                                                                      ~
So saith Goethe:

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. 

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. 

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. 

Willing is not enough; we must do. 

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."

~ ~ ~ The End ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ End Notes: ~ ~ ~

Strauch’s  death was followed by his brother Edwin’s in 1991 and Leonard’s on Valentine’s Day 1993.  This left Margaret alone in the home that Heinrich and Anna Strauch started.  This author remembers a cold Christmas day with a few flurries.  I drove my 1987 Volkswagon Golf down to Allentown to retrieve Aunt Margaret for our Rabenold family Christmas dinner. 

It was her first Christmas alone.  Her usually pleasant demeanor was tinged with darkness and her otherwise beautiful smile, a bit empty. 

She was the last of the Strauchs.  Ruth (her niece from her sister Kate) and Carleton Amey checked in on her.  But it wasn’t long before her once clear mind became too muddled to be on her own. 
The Last of the Strauch's - My Great
Aunt Margaret Strauch.  Though she had
serious engagement, she never married.
She was a member of the charitable
Telephone Pioneers, the largest corporate
volunteer network in the world.  Her
fellow Pioneers served as attendants at
her funeral.

She spent her last few years in the Phoebe Home in Allentown. 

She was last of the great Strauchs.  She died in June 1998. 

The Strauch Family Tree:
Though Heinrich was from W├╝rttemberg and Anna Margaret Foesch was said to have come from the Badenhofen, near Alsace-Loraine, DNA testing of this author’s father, the closest bloodline available to me to the Strauchs, reveals the largest genetic ethnicity group to be forty-two percent Scandinavian Peninsula.  (This author’s DNA report is practically a carbon copy of my father’s.) 

Aunt Margaret often liked to say, “They say we were descended from Napoleon.”  But she never offered any other context except a little knowing smile.  It is unclear if she was referring to her mother’s Foesch side, or the Strauch side.  Something about her stories seemed to always favor her mother’s side. 
Zacharias Rabenold, Mary Strauch Rabenold, Fred "Fritz" Meder, Katherine
Strauch Harrier, and Floyd Harrier at the Rabenold homestead at 9th and
Iron Sts, Lehighton.  Meder was a neighbor to the Strauch's from
Elm St Tamaqua.  The girls are (L-R): Gladys Rabenold, Pauline, Arlene,
and Ruth Harrier.  Fritz Meder was a blood relative to the Kellner's as well. 

The Strauchs, a Great American Family:
Carl Ferdinand Strauch was born to Heinrich (b. 1858) and Anna (Foesch) Strauch (b. 1864) in what is today the town of Lehighton, near Beaver Run Road and Jamestown Drive.  His father was a butcher to the miners.  

John Strauch (b. 1818) immigrated from the state of Hesse in Germany, settling on Pitt Street in Tamaqua, around the curve of the railroad tracks near the open pit mines of Tamaqua.  So Heinrich had a brother John (b. 1855, also a butcher) and a sister Katherine (b. 1853, who married a butcher).

So it appears the Strauch's and the Kellners lived and worked together.  A living descendent, Virginia Wetzel, describes how the family was still butchering family into her memory.  Her grandmother prepared the meals for both the family and the employees.  They all ate together.  

The original homestead still stands.  And the dam created to harvest wintertime ice for summer meat preservation is still used for fishing contests.  It continues to carry the Kellner name to this day.
This Google satellite image shows the area of Tamaqua
where the Strauchs and Kellners butchered steers and pigs
delivered on rail cars.  

This farther out image shows Kellner's Dam in the lower right and the
strip pits of Sharpe Mountain above.  Family lore described how often
money was scarce due to conflict between early unionism and the repeated
strikes in the area.

After John senior's death, Heinrich and his young family took his elderly mother along to the hamlet of Hacklebernie near Mauch Chunk.  Perhaps it was the continuous low-pay from the frequent strikes of the miners, a falling out with the Kellners, or simply a desire to make it on his own, that spurred Carl's parents to move often.

His parents both met and married in Tamaqua after their separate arrivals in the 1870s.  His father Heinrich was in his twenties and still living with his mother and father.  Anna Margaret Foesch arrived shortly after Heinrich. 

Upon the death of his father, Heinrich and Anna, along with Heinrich’s mother Katharina moved to Hacklebernie with their oldest child, my grandmother, Maria (‘Mary’).  Katharina lived only two years beyond her husband.  Heinrich arranged for her body to return to Dutch Hill next to her husband.

Being the youngest affords one distance from the early struggle.  It also gives rise to a certain degree of independence and both positive and negative examples of what can be a possibility. 

Even though none of them aspired higher than silk workers, a phone company operator supervisor (My dear Great Aunt Margaret), and a custodian at a public library (Uncle Edwin), most of them were avid and auto-didactical readers of literature. 

Of his five adult grown sisters, only the first two ever married, the younger three never did.  Of his five adult brothers all married except the second youngest Leonard.  Henry was divorced.  Prior to World War I, they used names typical of their origins, in birth order: Maria (pronounced ‘mari-ah’), Katherine (Kate), Carolina (‘Lena’), Wilhelm, Ludwig, Elizabeth (Lizzie), Heinrich, Edwin, Anna-Margaret (‘Margaret’), and Carl.  But when America entered the war against Germany, the Strauchs, like many German-American families wanted to draw less attention to their origins: Maria became Mary, Wilhelm became Willie, Ludwig became Lewis or Louie, and Heinrich became Henry.  Interestingly, the Strauch’s chose in 1908 to spell Carl with a “C” rather than the traditional German “K.”  At least one set of twins died in infancy. 
This wooden box was burned and stained by Floyd Harrier
to my grandmother Mary Strauch Rabenold.  Floyd would
marry her younger sister Kate.  One of two boxes given
to Mary in the months before she married Zach.  Though
not certain, it appears that Floyd and Kate were already
dating or married when these gifts were given.  Note Floyd's
name inscribed at the top right.

Second eldest daughter Kate was married to Floyd Harrier before the family relocated to Allentown from Lehighton in the September of 1912.  In fact, that was the month first daughter Mary married Zach Rabenold of Lehighton.  The timing of the move and this marriage seems to have some connection, as Mary remained to live in Lehighton the rest of her long life.  So by 1912, all the Strauchs but Mary were living in downtown Allentown. 

Heinrich established a butcher shop on Second Street.  At first located at 403 N. Second St, it eventually moved down to the 300 block (336) and by the 1920s to the 200 (228 N. Second).  In the first years, most worked for the silk mills: Willie a “silk worker,” Lewis a “loom fixer,” Henry a “salesman,” Edwin a “clerk,” and Margaret a “phone operator.”  By the 1930s and 40s, Henry was a coal and ice deliveryman, Lewis a foreman for United Textile Corp on North Tenth St, Margaret a Bell Telephone operator supervisor, Lizzie worked for Swiss Textile Mills on Lumber St.  Leonard held his job as a quiller at the Catasauqua Silk Mill into the 1960s.

Like her parents, Mary and Zach Rabenold never owned a car.  They walked everywhere.  Zach walked over a mile each day to his job at the Lehigh Valley Railroad repair facility known as Packerton Yard.  They frequently used his railroad pass to travel to Saturday evening dinners at the Strauch home.  The Strauch siblings of Leonard, Elizabeth, and Margaret also did not own a car.  And neither did any of them marry.

Leonard was perhaps the least sociable, perhaps better described as asocial.  At the end of WWI he served as seaman in the navy.  And then during WWII, while in his early forties, he was assigned to Lighthouse duty along the New England coast.  He served from 1943 until January 1948.  He was discharged from Fort Meade in Maryland.  He also spent time in coastal protection in Venice Florida.

Louie served overseas in WWI with Company A of the 49th Engineers from May 1918 to July 1919.  He was known to be the sullenest of the siblings, known to give beatings to the younger boys.  Carl remembered only one encounter that left lasting physical and emotional pain.  However Willie and Henry received more frequent torment.  Willie also served in WWI, in the medical corps.

Heinrich died in 1939 followed by Anna in 1945.  Lizzie, always the mother figure to the younger siblings, continued to live communally with Leonard and Margaret.  And so it was with the Strauchs.  Each contributing what they could to the good of the whole.  Curiously none of them appeared to work with their father at the family meat market.  Perhaps as a function of Heinrich’s garrulous nature or due to the need to bring in outside money.

Lena was said to be her father’s favorite and perhaps the most attractive.  She died of tuberculosis in October 1917, the family portrait was done in the months before she died.  Willie’s daughter Dorothy also died of TB in 1949.  She had been engaged during the war to an Army Pilot Arthur C. Weida.  They never married.

One of Strauch’s nephews, fourteen years younger than Strauch, also became an English professor.  Richard Harrier, son of Kate and Floyd, went on to a distinguished career at N.Y.U., specializing in Shakespeare. 
Floyd Harrier entered the Call-Chronicle photo
contest in 1922 with this picture of his
niece Gladys Rabenold (center) and his oldest
daughters Pauline and Arlene seated in the
 swings.  Floyd was married to Kate Strauch.

Lizzie, his matriarchal older sister who worked as a silk mill weaver and who spent her years with her other unmarried siblings of Leonard and Margaret, could hold her own against Strauch.  Leonard also worked in a silk mill.  Margaret worked as a Bell Telephone operator and later as a supervisor. 

Their home at 225 ½ North Second St. Allentown was directly across the street from her father Heinrich’s butcher shop.  On July 2, 1924, while Kate was at the movies.  Pauline and Arlene, ages seven and six, had their little brother, four-year-old Floyd Jr., at the corner grocery store for penny candy.  Neighbors heard the squeal of tires and the thud.  Floyd had set out home by himself.  The collision caused his head to strike the road and fractured his skull.  He was pronounced dead at 4:30 pm.  The papers said it happened “under the watch of his father.”  This incident put a new dimension onto their martial strain.
Though just a mill worker, Floyd Harrier seen here front, right in 1938, was involved as a union organizer and as part of Allentown's Keystone Athletic Association.

Another child of Strauch’s sister Kate and Floyd Harrier was Richard.  A bright young many who would become an expert on Shakespeare and a professor at N.Y.U.  He felt deserted by his father for running off with his “socialist pals.”  In a letter to the editor in 1981, he thanked his recently deceased HS Principal Dr. James W. Richardson for his guidance in forming him into the man he became.  He credited Richardson for pushing him to take the exam for the Muhlenberg College scholarship at a time when he “had no sense of direction.”

Richard Harrier had an exceedingly capable mind, shown
here his talent at chess.

Dr. Richard Harrier's March 1981 letter
to the editors of the Morning Call.

Dr. Edward J. Fluck:
Dr. Edward J. Fluck was a Renaissance man cut of the same cloth as Strauch.  Winner of an archaeological fellowship, a master at Western languages, Fluck was also an accomplished violinist.

Dr. Edward J. Fluck's 1930 Muhlenberg Yearbook photo.
It is unclear just who crossed out the word 'the' in Strauch's Lost Illusion poem in the edition given to Fluck.  The edition given to Strauch's brother
Edwin does not have the same mark.  (Incidentally, the copy given to
Strauch's Professor Simpson has been ordered by this author on eBay.
I'm anxiously curious as to what that page 12 will look like.)
The valedictorian of his class and briefly taught at his alma mater from 1937 to 1947.  He received top marks in his exams and was the sole person selected by the society nationally.  He had to turn down the Vogeler fellowship at Johns Hopkins in favor of the Institute fellowship.  He left in July 1932 to study at the principal museums of France, Germany, Russia, Austria, Italy, and finally Greece.  He returned home the following spring.  Eventually he would become editor at Rodale Press. 

Fluent in both Latin and Greek and most of the languages of the Western World.  Before his early death at the age of 53 to a rheumatic heart, Fluck was responsible for translating and publishing several books, including French novelist Gustave Flaubert’s book Dictionary of Platitudes.  He edited dozens more.

He never married.
Fluck and Strauch were practically
neighbors growing up in Allentown.
Morning Call - July 1932

Helen Dery Strauch Woodson:

Resistance in Captivity:
On March 16, 1988 Helen Woodson walked through the main gate of Alderson Prison carrying a banner and statement protesting the nuclear arms race, pollution of the environment and prison conditions for women.  She was apprehended outside the prison by a patrol vehicle.  She was temporarily placed in solitary confinement and then transferred to Federal Correctional Institution (Pleasanton) in Dublin, California.  Here, Dery carried out another resistance action.  She chose the date, December 10, 1988, in honor of Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday.

Dery walked to the recreation field track bearing an athletic bag stuffed with sheets, towels and papers dosed with flammable nail polish, set the bad next to the fence and ignited a “lovely Advent blaze.”  Then she hung a banner reading: “There is no security in the US government, nuclear weapons, chemical contaminants, prisons and UNICOR- Military prison industries.  Fences make slaves.  Tear Them Down.”  And then, with toenail clippers, she snipped the “security” alarm wire, severing it in four places.  She was sent to the hole and charged with attempted escape, arson, destruction of government property and inciting a riot. 

In late January 1989 she was moved to Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego, a downtown stone-tower skyscraper that houses 1,000 federal prisoners.  Before leaving Pleasanton she learned that the evidence for her action was destroyed and she was not prosecuted.  After a short stint in San Diego, she was transferred to Marianna Prison in Florida.  As a result of federal appeals court ruling, Helen was released on parole on June 14, 1993.  During the spring of 1993 an appeals court overturned a lower court ruling and affirmed the government’s positon that it could release Helen on parole.  Helen filed a civil suit asking to be held in prison until the expiration of her sentence, and then be conditionally released. 

Three days after her release, she was involved in several controversial protests (which went outside the bounds of nonviolent protest) focusing on the idolatry of money, corporate greed and destruction of the earth.  She was arrested and convicted for these actions and was sentenced to 202 months in prison.  She is not at the Marianna Prison.
On March 9, 2004 she once again was released, at which she replied, “I will never abide by the terms of supervised release.”  Her original lawyer and sympathetic friend from her 1985 arrest, Henry Stoever, said Dery considered herself a “soldier of peace.”  Within hours of her freedom, she sent threatening letters to U.S. District Court in Kansas City.  

The next day she sends “Second Warning” letters.  Later that day she arrives at the District Courthouse in Kansas City and pours a mixture of cranberry juice and red paint onto the security desk and screening device.  She is detained by deputy U.S. marshals and placed under arrest.  According to her own testimony, Dery claimed to have phoned, “This is a warning.  There is a weapon of mass destruction in your building. Choose life.”  Upon questioning, Dery claimed to be referring to the housing of a copy of the U.S. Constituion, which she considered a weapon.  She rationalized that our government willfully carried out actions that caused the deaths of citizens throughout the world.  The Constitution enabled the government to carry out such acts.
She was sentenced to fifty-one months.  The judge had harsh words for Dery at her sentencing.  

“You have taken a whole life from the seven children you adoplted and abandoned.  You abandoned three developmentally disabled children to be cared for by other persons and public institutions.  You are a very selfish, self-centered person.  That’s a disgrace.”

Father Carl Kabat defended Helen in word at her hearing stating her children were well-cared for by her friends after she went to prison.   Chief U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple asked Dery where she considered her home to be.  Dery said, “Right now, I live in this courtroom.  I live wherever God takes me.”

She invokes her father’s name in her final sentencing.  “I was literally a child of war.  My father, the late Carl Strauch, was my mentor and he taught me reverence for life against the backdrop of WWII and the Korean War.  I came of age during the Vietnam War, and my two oldest sons were born during the years that young men of my generation were coming home maimed or in body bags.  So I stand today in spirit with courageous veterans like my friends George Vesey, Louie de Benedette, and Cal Robertson who returned from Vietnam to oppose all war.” 

Further on, she alludes to her mother when she stated, “Is there anyone who has not lost a loved one to cancer?  Our nation’s pesticides are truly weapons of mass destruction.”
Helen Dery Strauch Woodson's first
photograph as a free person after 27 years
in prison.

Helen was finally released from prison on September 10, 2011.  In her last letter to me from prison, she vowed she would dedicate herself to understanding and getting to know her grandchildren.

The 97-year-old Clara Brobst, mother of longtime Strauch and Lovecraft friend Dr. Harry K. Brobst, took her first airplane ride in 1984.  Dr Brobst would out live Lovecraft by several decades and Strauch by two decades when he passed away at the age of 100 in January of 2010.

Miscellaneous Notes from Carl F. Strauch:
From Strauch’s “Romantic Harmony & the Organic Metaphor”:
“It was increasingly assumed that Romanticism had already passed into a well-deserved oblivion and that certain degraded, sentimentalized remnants would quickly follow…D.H. Lawrence, from Goethe to Thomas Mann…that far from dying, Romanticism has survived and survived vigorously into the twentieth century…as in a rebirth, in such figures as Yeats, Joyce, Lawrence, Mann, and Herman Hesse.”

“It should become clear as I proceed that the organic metaphor is central to the entire discussion…The analogy of the growth of a plant from the seed or germ dominated every other conception that the Romantics held; and as a consequence, wherever they looked, at themselves, into their own minds, at society and the natural order, at their own compositions, everywhere they saw organic growth and relation, harmony.

“For all his interest in ideas Mathew Arnold was largely belletristic in his approach, based by his partial view of the Greeks, “who saw life steadily, and saw it whole.”  Arnold’s yearning for classic calm and serenity betrayed his profounder moods of despair, melancholy and alienation, “the dialogue of the mind with itself,” which as in his own Empedocles on Etna, he summarily dismissed.” (The plot centers on a man who can no longer feel joy)
Handwritten notes of Carl F. Strauch "Romantic Harmony"-
In the days before word-processors and Google
it is a great wonder how men like Strauch were able to compile such thorough and concise
research.  This page marked "4b" indicates that Strauch needed to insert these key ideas
between page four and five.  His handwriting always a cross between cursive and print.

(How Strauch himself identified and lived his life like this; summarily dismissing modern poetry, his demanding, short temperedness, his attention to scholarly pursuits and basic routines, of living outside himself.)  “Arnold’s failure as a thinker lies in his effort to transcend his own psychological dilemmas by resorting to slogans of a rationalistic and moralistic generality.  In this manner he could emulate the Greek calm and serenity, persuade himself that he was coming vigorously to grips with intellectual and social problems and finally at the same time, evade “the dialogue of the mind with itself.”

In the same way Arnold’s insight into the Greeks emphasizing calm and serenity, is only half an insight, and it will not stand comparison with Nietzsche’s terrific vision of the Greeks as a profoundly suffering people in The Birth of Tragedy.  Arnold’s modern spirit, the rationalistic battle against entrenched smugness and complacency, is an important half, but only a half of the modern activity, the other half, but only a half of modern activity, the other half being the concept of the organic.  Metamorphosis, growth, pain and suffering, joy and delight are all part of the organic unfolding both in personality and in epoch, and these expressions of upward striving emerge from the dark substratum of the unconscious.  Calm and serenity cannot be imposed from without, but must be achieved as the fruition of the spirit, the harmonic expression of all human cultural resources.  This Nietzsche saw with an amazing profundity when he described Greek tragedy as maintaining a precarious balance between Apollonian calm and serenity and Dionysian ecstasy.”

“Writers and readers, all reflective persons are in this great modern period divided between mechanistic order and vitalistic striving, and occasionally we all cross over from one view to the other.   If man is a living organism who may enter into a metaphysical freedom or achieve psychological freedom, if he is not a mere thing or a dead object, if “existence precedes essence,” then Romanticism may be Existentialist.  But I am aware that such an equivalence brings its train problems, complexities of its own, and I therefore happily leave off at this point.  (However, Strauch wrote the following, then struck it out: “As I do, I become happier as I recall Maurice Friedman’s statement in The Worlds of Existentialism, ‘Existentialism is not a philosophy but a mood embracing a number of disparate philosophies…”)

Other Notes: Thoreau: “The soil it appears, is suited to the seed, for it has sent its radicle downward, and it may now send its shoot upward also with confidence.  Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above?”  Strauch noted, “Man, having died, should be reborn.”

Coleridge’s poem with the albatross is similar symbol as Melville’s Moby Dick, a symbol of life; the sea journey is metaphor for death and rebirth;
In Walden as in Moby Dick the pattern of symbolic death and rebirth is used to express revolt against static mechanism in favor of dynamic organicism.  The Romantics always showing man’s strident steps toward self-actualization, a spiraling toward upward perfection.

“The soil, it appears, is suited to the seed, for it has sent its radicle downward, and it may now send its shoot upward also with confidence.  Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above?” – Man, having died, should be reborn.

Whitman’s “Song of Myself” uses symbolic death and rebirth as a structural pattern; Whitman is ‘fascinated diversitarian.'

“I have been a rebel against reports for the last eight years.”  “Paradox: In this course there is a subtly of mind – Our great Eastern writers have not been appreciated as a school…I think that in the next twenty years we should establish that they are more subtle than the English Romantics, but not necessarily greater…dubious.”

“The thing that you don’t want, you rush toward it – by God! As Emerson knew.

“I doubt very much if you will like Emerson.  After a lifetime devoted to Emerson research, I can say, largely because he is hard.  And of course there is the modern resistance against anything except novels and short stories.”

On the relevance of Emerson, Strauch said in his first lecture of the 1965 term: “It has got to be a habit among scholars to begin an essay about Melville or Thoreau by pointing to that guy Emerson- I have toyed with the idea of a course in Emerson, but I know that by the end of that time students would be repulsed by him….I’ve found ample proof in documents I read this summer.”

Substitute Religions: “I usually took up Emerson, and I’d point out that the Victorian period was full of “literary middlemen” who interpreted religion or science for intelligent but perplexed readers who could no longer accept the old faith or who needed a guide to advances in biology, specifically Darwinism.”

“Criticism of Emerson, like that of a good number of other authors, has made extraordinary progress in the past thirty years- progress that, on the whole, is along the lines I have just indicated.  We owe to Ralph L. Rusk a biography as complete and exact as we could wish and an almost exhaustive edition of the letters.  The publication of the whole journal is in progress; a volume of hitherto unpublished early lectures has appeared and two others are promised.”  -these are the cut out words of Gonnaud’s dissertation that cited Cameron, Whicher, and Strauch.

The D. G. Dery Mansion Photos:
The beginning of D. G. Dery's end - In September 1922 Dery tried to support his failed holdings by guaranteeing bonds.  The last sentence of the fine print tells it all: "We do not guarantee but believe it to be true."
By March of 1923 the paper tiger
of  Dery's finances were disclosed.

Skylights of the mansion as seen through 

Leaded glass cellar windows of Native Americans Hunting
look down into what was known as the "Dery Lounge."

The Pennsylvania Hex Murders of 1932: