Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spirits, Telepathy, and Esperanto

A little late for Zamenhof-Festo
Grant Wallace was, according to Wikipedia, “an American journalist, artist, screenwriter, and occultist.” They left out Esperantist. That piece of information comes from an article in the December 23, 1912 San Francisco Call. The main context was simply an announcement of an upcoming meeting, planned for December 26, 1912.

The article gives the name of people who will be speaking at the meeting, one of whom is Grant Wallace, who is identified as “editor of the San Francisco Esperantist.” I’ve encountered a few small literary magazines from the early days of the Esperanto movement, but my supposition is that the San Francisco Esperantist was the club newsletter of the San Francisco Esperanto club.

The Call describes those assembled as “linguists,” which really isn’t the right term.
Bay Cities Linguists to Assemble in Oakland Thursday
OAKLAND, Dec. 22.—A midwinter meeting of the Esperantists of the bay cities will be held under the direction of the Oakland Esperanto club Thursday evening at 8 o’clock in the auditorium of the Oakland high school.

Short speeches will be made by Alwyn J. Baker, E. Peterson, Grant Wallace, editor of the San Francisco Esperantist, and L. H. Gorham.

D. E. Parrish of Los Angeles has been invited. He has just returned from a lecture tour through 25 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Wikipedia notes that Mr. Wallace had a “small cabin in the forest near Carmel, California, which he used as a laboratory for experimenting with telepathy,” and attempted to communicate with aliens and the dead. No word if he tried to teach Esperanto to the spirit of Thomas Jefferson.

The other people listed are somewhat more obscure. A 1912 Oakland directory lists Mr. Baker as a assistant at the U[niversity] of C[alifornia]. L. H. Gorham is clearly Leveret H Gorham, who lists his profession in 1912 as “Esperantist” (wait, is there money in this?). Nothing quickly turns up, other than street directories and voter rolls.

To return to Mr. Wallace, if you’re all alone and you think you hear a faint voice speaking Esperanto, maybe he’s trying to contact you from beyond the grave. Don’t forget to say, “saluton!”
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