These Things Are Mine: The Autobiography of a Journeyman Playwright

These Things Are Mine: The Autobiography of a Journeyman Playwright

These Things Are Mine: The Autobiography of a Journeyman Playwright

These Things Are Mine: The Autobiography of a Journeyman Playwright

Excerpt

My mother and father eloped. They were married in Trinity Parish, New York City, by the Rev. Thomas H. Sill, on December 27, 1879. As I began there, I begin here.

I still have Dad's telegram of October 27, 1880, to my mother's mother in Philadelphia, announcing that an "eight pound son" was born. Two days later, addressing her as "My dear Madame," he wrote: We have a dear little baby. I think it looks very much like his mother. The baby has light hair, dark blue eyes, well proportioned and perfect in every particular. It happened at her mother-in-law's home in Paterson, N. J. No one of her own was with my mother. Her family had not approved of the marriage.

Dad and Mother were said to be far-distant cousins. They both came from solid pioneer stock -- nearly all Anglo-Saxon, with enough Irish to make me contentious. I wish a little Latin or Oriental had filtered in; but all the family unions appear to have been legal, and the recorded offspring legitimate. My mother's sister, desiring to join the D.A.R., spaded about till she dug up an eligible ancestor, my great-great-grandfather, Sergeant Gresham Flagg Lane. Fortunately for her, he had shouldered his New England musket at the proper historical moment. Like so many of our ancestors, however, he did not enlist for the duration. Even so, this appears to be the only revolutionary thing any of my male relatives ever did.

Those who were to come within my personal ken, on both sides, included the usual assortment of lawyers, doctors, ministers, stockbrokers, businessmen and loose-living what-nots, of varying degrees of prominence and probity. But there was not a writing man among them. My brother, Scudder Middleton, with his fine poetic gift, and I, a dramatist, were sports on the family tree.

Of all my relatives, I best loved Grandma Blakeslee, my mother's mother. About 1830, when she was a girl, she and her mother -- who, oddly enough, had been born a Middleton -- were painted together by the well-known Bass Otis. In his Philadelphia studio he had made . . .

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