Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Album of the Heart ~ Jun 13, 1880

In the golden chain of friendship save one precious link for me.
Yours Sincerely, Julia E. Black

Who'd have thought that this simple entry in Flora's Album of the Heart would create such a research conundrum. What I discovered was a number of variations on the theme. 

Friendship is a Golden Chain
 the links are friends so dear
And like a rare and precious jewel
 it's treasured more each year
It's clasped together firmly 
with a love that's deep and true
And it's rich with happy memories 
and fond recollections too
Time can't destroy its beauty
 for as long as memory lives
Years can't erase the pleasure
 that the joy of friendship gives
For friendship is a priceless gift 
that can't be bought or sold
But to have an understanding friend
 is worth far more than gold
And the Golden Chain of Friendship
 is a strong and blessed tie
Binding kindred hearts together
 as the years go passing by

The poem is claimed by multiple authors, though I use the term loosely for Anonymous. Helen Steiner Rice is credited with the poem, but she was born 20 years after the lines were written in the album. Ann M. Siddall is cited as having written and copyrighted the poem, but there is no date and she seems to be a ghost in the online world. Anonymous is also credited for the poem on the Happy Endings Funeral Service website.

Friendship is a golden chain, one single link is all I claim ~ I found numerous variations on the wording in commonplace book entries from the late 19th and early 20th century. This line was written to a Ruth Kassner in 1906.

In the golden chain of friendship regard me as a linkThis line was found in Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, A Guide to Correct Writing under Selections for the Autograph Album, published in 1881. Miss Manners would have probably loved this guy. The introduction to the section reads as follows: 

"The individual is frequently called upon for his or her autograph. In complying, is it customary to couple with a sentiment, signing the name beneath. If the matter written is original, be it long or short, it is usually more highly valued. If a brief selection is made, some of the following quotations may be appropriate." 

Julia may have been inspired by any one of these sources, but part of the magic is that we'll never know for sure. 

Four generations from Flora to me and a golden chain of friendship continues, some of these girls at my 4th birthday party are still in my life 65 years later. The pretty lady is my mom.

The setting is our cottage, on the old 3/4 acre homestead, on Summit Avenue in Mill Valley where I grew up. It was purchased from the Tamalpais Land and Water Company by my great grandparents, Flora and Charles Beals for the staggering sum of $2,000 in 1892. We moved there to take care of my grandma Hazel, her daughter, in 1949. Those of us who grew up on Mt. Tamalpais were the luckiest kids in the world and we all still know it.