Thursday, July 10, 2014

Esperanto’s Little Advertiser

How he learned it
A twelve-year-old sent in a letter to the children’s page of the New-York Tribune, where it was published on July 10, 1910, in which he gives a description of Esperanto and his involvement in it. Young Joseph Lepsey was quite active in the New Haven Esperanto Club. He was their librarian in 1911, at the age of 13.

In the June, 1911 issue of Amerika Esperantisto he was described as “kredeble la plej juna esperantisto en la urbo” (credibly the youngest Esperantist in the the city) and founded a club just for young esperantists, the Zamenhofa Rondo de Junaj Esperantistoj. In this, he was joined by Mabel DeScheen, Frederick Knodel, Josefo de Scheen, and George W. Wilber.

It’s not clear after this flurry of activity that Mr. Lepsey was later active in the movement. Records indicate that he was unmarried at the age of 42, living with his mother, and working as an advertising agent. He died in 1986, so there might be some Esperantists in the New Haven area who knew him, if he remained active.

Here’s what he wrote at the age of 12:
I wish to tell you about Esperanto, of which probably few of you have heard and in which a kind friend has interested me. Seeing a book in his room entitled “Esperanto in Fifty Lessons,” I asked him about it and he explained that Esperanto was a language invited by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, of Warsaw, Poland, as a means of communication among all nations. It is not intended to replace any language now existing, but to be a second language for all. After a few lessons with my friend I joined the New Haven Esperanto Club, finished the “Fifty Lessons,” and am now reading with the club a book entitled “Sub la Neĝo” (Under the Snow), translated into Esperanto from the French of J. J. Porchat. This book is a diary written by a boy who, with his grandfather, remained all winter in a cottage in the Jura Mountains, buried under the snow. The story is very interesting, but heart breaking relating the dangers and hardships endured by these sturdy mountaineers.

The chief aim of Esperanto is to establish universal brotherhood, so that all nations will live in peace with one another. The interest is very great in foreign lands. In Europe there are many hotels where one can order meals in Esperanto. There are about one hundred and fifty newspapers and magazines printed in Esperanto. Germany is probably the leader in using the international language in advertising. In the United States the interest has only recently awakened, but Esperanto clubs are forming in all parts of the country. The State of Maryland, at the last legislature, passed a bill authorizing the teaching of Esperanto in the public schools. For the first time the United States is about to be honored with a gathering of international Esperantists. The sixth congress, which will open at Washington on August 12, is attracting much attention throughout the country.

The more I read of Esperanto the easier and more interesting it becomes. I am able to use it considerably in conversation and have written and received many letters in Esperanto from members of our club. I shall soon take up foreign correspondence and thus make a collection of postal cards from people of many lands whose languages I do not understand but who, by means of Esperanto, will be able to make known to me their ideas. I shall be glad to receive letters from any of the The Tribune’s Little Men and Little Women who which to know more about Esperanto.

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