Monday, June 20, 2016

Joe and His Bees

We've seen Joseph Mundell's bees; now here's Joe with his bees.

2016-6-20. Bees 2
(Click on image to enlarge)

This photograph was taken to illustrate a little newspaper item — so I gather from the ragged piece of paper pasted to it:

2016-6-20. Bees 1

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find out where and when the story and photo were printed, if they ever were. But a little investigation into Alva Turner of Ina, Illinois, turns up this tidbit, printed in the Mt. Vernon Register (Illinois) of May 16, 1949, under the title, "As You Were: Glances Through the Files of the Register and the News," and the subtitle, "25 Years Ago Today": "Bee stings are declared to be a beneficial treatment for nervousness by Alva N. Turner of Ina, who has himself tried the treatment."

So Joe's photo and story must date to after May 16, 1924, but not so long after that everyone would have forgotten Alva N. Turner's opinion of bee stings. A few barely visible fashions in the newspaper Joe is holding suggest mid- to late 1920s.

I turned up that 1924 story while researching Alva Turner, who was born in 1878 and died in 1963. He had a varied career: he was an insurance agent (1900 Census), a "gospel minister" (1910 Census, by which time he was married), a "common laborer" (WWI Draft Cards), again a minister (1920 Census, by which time he was divorced), and a house painter (1930 Census, 1940 Census).

And still he found time to write poetry — surprisingly modern poetry — and to correspond with William Carlos Williams.

His poetry and his connection to small-town Illinois remind me of his contemporary, Edgar Lee Masters — except, of course, that Masters moved to the big city, while Turner lived and died in southern Illinois. And everybody's heard of Masters; who (outside of academia) has heard of Turner? — I certainly hadn't. So I'm glad I bought that silly bee picture. It taught me something.

Also, that 1924 murder involving a minister and his married girlfriend sounds very juicy.


Rachel said...

According to this, Joseph was in The Pittsburgh Press with his bees on June 29th,1924 so that fits the timeline you figured out.

Ainsworthiana said...

Thanks for finding that. I can't view the page because I don't have the Publisher Extra subscription but I'll take your word for it.