June 4, 2013


I found this postcard in an old ratty Modern Library edition of "Of Human Bondage" by W. Somerset Maugham at the Salvation Army on Telegraph and Joy Rd. Since the book was pretty much destroyed I flipped the card into another book that I was picking up from the donated Dorthe Balaskas collection, "Collected Sonnets" of Edna St. Vincent Millay. 

That latter was a gift from a friend named Gay and is inscribed "With all good wishes". It notes her location as Bay Cliff and the year, 1960. See for yourself.

I also picked up a Modern Library edition of "Arrowsmith" by Sinclair Lewis that bears Ms. Balaskas's name.

Dorthe passed away a little over a month ago and these books likely have been in her possession since her college days at Eastern Michigan in the 1950s. Her obituary says she was 82 years old and taught at the Lowey school in Dearborn for 50 years, only retiring due to health reasons. The fact that it was special education only seems to highlight the passion she must have had for teaching. I might take a ride out to Grand Lawn this week and snap a photo of her grave site. 

While she had aspirations of going to school for teaching music she quickly fell in love with helping special needs children while volunteering on campus. The position at Lowrey was her first and only teaching job. She used the same classroom for 46 of those years. A special tree and bench in her honor are placed at the school's west entrance where she walked into the building every day of career. 

 Dearborn Press and Guide, June 6, 2004

As for Midwest Auto Delivery, it was a car delivery service based downtown that apparently "hired" people to drive cars from Detroit to wherever somebody ordered a car from. The drive was paid for but the only other compensation was the satisfaction of having driven a brand new car.

Charleston Gazette Tuesday, February 16, 1954

Dorthe's preferred destination was New York but for whatever reason this company didn't roll that way. Perhaps it was an attempt to see the east coast before starting her teaching career or her first summer vacation. One can only speculate now. 

I leave you with this poem from the "Collected Sonnets" of Edna St. Vincent Millay that she probably read several times over the years:

What's this of death, from you who never will die? 
Think you the wrist that fashioned you in clay, 
The thumb that set the hollow just that way 
In your full throat and lidded the long eye 
So roundly from the forehead, will let lie 
Broken, forgotten, under foot some day 
Your unimpeachable body, and so slay 
The work he most had been remembered by? 
I tell you this: whatever of dust to dust 
Goes down, whatever of ashes may return 
To its essential self in its own season, 
Loveliness such as yours will not be lost, 
But, cast in bronze upon his very urn, 
Make known him Master, and for what good reason.

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