Part 18: Riley's Journal Fragments: "There is Suffering and Misery Everywhere Throughout America."
The most productive nation in the world, yet unable to properly feed, clothe, and shelter a third of its population. --- Riley Shepard 1938
I'm still going through the huge pile of notes my father left behind, including some manuscripts for books. To refresh, these items were in the boxes, and the podcast "Hidden Brain" had an impact on getting the boxes back to me. A fan of the show, Erfert Fenton, pitched in to find out the identity of the songwriter who was storing the boxes for the Ensslin family in Porterville, California.
Riley was 20 years old in 1938, and has just read "The Life of Ramakrishna" by Romain Rolland, a book which can be read on Internet Archives, the same online library that published my father's "Encyclopedia of Folk Music." I have a lot of time on my hands, so perhaps I'll read "The Life of Ramakrishna" myself.
The tone of Riley's writing is intense, hostile even. The journal entry mirrors some of the feelings many of us are experiencing now, trapped in our homes during the Corona Virus fall out. I've been here in Seattle, the epicenter, wondering why our government waited so long to stop the spread of COVID-19. I'm a sole proprietor, and I'm in a lease. We small business owners are screwed. The laws here are on the side of commercial landlords by a long mile.
Reading my father's thoughts, while he's stewing, and I'm stewing, reading his hostile thoughts, while I struggle to contain my own...it's a new experience.
The man, Larry, who stored my father's stuff all those months had read through some of my Dad's journal. When I showed up for the boxes, meeting outside the storage unit in Porterville, he said he'd read through what Riley had written. Later, in a phone call, he said he felt guilty for reading as much as he did. "I feel guilty, too, but don't feel bad. Maybe he wanted to be known on a deeper level," I said.
Well, here we go.
Here are the four pages I just found. Let me know what you think.
Next, I'll list every single stage name, pen name, and alias my father used and it's going to be exhausting. Check out part 19.