- Anniversary -
Helen Abbott, Vallejo, March 2000

125th Anniversary

of Jack London's birth
by Tarnel Abbott

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January 12, 2001
Dear Jack London, Happy Birthday!
I am uncertain how to address this and even how to begin this letter. The formal words of address do not sit well with me. You were born 125 years ago and I am a bit older than you were at the time of your death. Three generations seperate us and yet there is some connection which defies the barriers of time. A connection of the spirit more than the blood. You had more wisdom than your years. I salute you and I admire you because you lived life on your own terms, with intelligence, discipline, courage, fortitude and more; your terms mandated not taking advantage of another's lot in life or misfortune. Such integrity is rarely seen. So much depth to you, so much confusion and misunderstanding on our part.

We, in our brave new era, will spend a lifetime deciphering your nuances. I know this intimately because, yes, it is in your writing but also plain to see in your offspring, who are many. Of whom I am one. I refuse to be sentimental. (this is the hardest part of living in the shadow of your greatness.) You do not need me to ennumerate your achievements which are many, but here are some of my personal reasons for this tribute:

-- you make your readers think, question, stop in their tracks EVEN NOW
--you bring everything ALIVE with your writing (even now)
--your writing is eclectic, this broad range insures that you will never bore us
--you were so modern in your thinking that you would laugh at how little we have truely progressed --you never turned your back on the salt of the earth, the working people
--AND although you have been perceived as a "gentleman farmer" you had laudable goals with your land and your dream home: environmentally and socially
-- a dream beyond your own personal needs A vision which was before its time to improve the by TILLING the LAND ORGANICALLY to enrich it so that it would be more productive than that which was chemically fertilized. You did accomplish part of your goal: You are responsible for the agricultural rejuvination of a region.

Are today's farmers bold enough to be organic? NO. To diversify? NO. But they could and should and you demonstrated that it is a viable possibility. AND Yes, the state park should be a demonstration model farm of scientific, organic, diversified agriculture. We have alot to learn. You had a vision of building a COMMUNITY for those who worked for you, that their children would have a school, what a thought! Why, I suppose you would be shocked to know that in this modern era, the children of farmworkers in California still work in the fields and get scant education? A vision for a HOME which was also a CULTURAL CENTER...what madman is this who would welcome any artist, poet, writer, hobo, ex-convict, or anyone who brought fresh thought into his own home? Obviously a relative of mine. Cherish the WORLD.

What madman would descend willingly, offer himself up to "The People of the Abyss" and write eloquently of the conditions of the poorest people in the belly of the wealthiest nation of the world (at that time), who but a true relative of mine. Proud offspring, YES, I SAY, YES PROUD. But Jack London belongs to the world and the world loves him yet. SO WORLD do as Jack London advised: be bold, take a stand... what do you think now of Jack London?

Tarnel Abbott

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