UPDATE: Polar and her owner, Derek Waters were reunited this afternoon. Thanks everyone for all the help!
Know this dog and who her owner is?
”I’m a ranger with State Parks here in Big Sur. This morning, someone dropped a big white dog named Polar at the Pfeiffer Big Sur kiosk. She weighs about 100 pounds and has a rabies vaccine tag from Grass Valley and 707 and 831 phone numbers, neither of which were answered. The good samaritan said he found her walking on Hwy. 1 near the Henry Miller Library.”
The 4th Annual Big Sur Earth Day Fair, sponsored by B-SAGE (Big Sur Advocates for a Green Environment) is Sunday, April 10th at the Henry Miller Library from 1-5:00.
Park and take the shuttle from the turnout at mile marker 44.3, just south of Post Ranch Inn on the ocean side of the highway, or take the bus (Line 22) to Nepenthe and walk the 1/4 mile to the Library
Children’s activities, handmade/ upcycled crafts, delicious food, bike smoothie, music, info on fracking & prizes will demonstrate our theme, “Celebrate Clean Air and Water.”
A new speakers series exploring how developing areas in the West can maintain their wild character in our “virtual age.”
As you read this, it’s a sunny late-March weekday morning here on the coast, and approximately 85 cars are parked along Highway 1 near Big Sur Station.
It feels like July, but it’s late March.
If there was any doubt, it’s official now. The world is hip to Big Sur. The genie’s out of the bottle.
And this increased popularity, as we all know, brings with it a whole host of challenges affecting the land the visitors and the residents.
Workers’ housing. Short-term rentals. Traffic congestion. Public access curtailed. Clogged up vistor’s parking. Garbage in the wilderness. The commercialization of neighborhoods. Drones. (Yes, drones.)…
If you are concerned about these issues and what Big Sur will look in five, 10, 25 years, we encourage you to come to the Henry Miller Library on April 3rd at 4 pm.
We’ll be launching our new speaking series,
Nowhere Is Our Real Home:
Community and Identity in the New West.
Across the summer, some of the country’s most thoughtful conservationists, historians, and naturalists will talk about how developing areas can maintain their wild character in our “virtual age.”
Our inaugural speaker will be David Gessner, award-winning author of All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West and nine other books.
David will discuss his own “post-regionalist philosophy” about what home and its relationship to the wild might mean now, using Wallace Stegner, Edward Abbey, and Wendell Berry as touchstones.
Future speakers include Kenneth Brower (above; June 5th, Not Man Apart), Malcolm Margolin (July 31st, Life in a California Mission: Monterey in 1786), and Don Usner (Aug. 7th The Natural History of Big Sur).
More speakers will be added as the spring turns into summer. To learn more about this series, click here.
To RSVP for David’s talk on April 3rd please visit the library website. This talk is by donation.
Join me to hear this fascinating man and speaker on Monday, October 13 from 3-6 pm. He is world renowned for his defense of notorious defendants. Hope to see many of you there. I may miss many HML events, due to parking issues, and starting at or near dark, but this one I will not miss!
Once a month, I’d like to feature a business or organization with the history of the place and the people involved. I sent out a 1/2 dozen inquiries, and got 4 responses within 24 hours. I’ve asked for the stories and a couple of photos (old & new, preferrably) and Magnus Toren of the Henry Miller Library was the first to send me a completed history and the first photo shown below. So, featured this month is the Henry Miller Library!! I have been promised three more features from local businesses, and am working on contacting as many as I can to continue the Monthly Spotlight for quite some time.
The Henry Miller Library (also known as the “Henry Miller Memorial Library, Founded by Emil White”) was created by Emil White, a longtime friend of Miller. Located in Big Sur, 35 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea on Highway One, the Library occupies White’s former home. It is a public benefit, non-profit organization championing the literary, artistic and cultural contributions of the late writer, artist and Big Sur resident Henry Miller.
Emil White moved to Big Sur in 1944 to serve as caretaker and personal secretary to Henry Miller. The two had met in Chicago in 1942. In the 1960’s White bought the property, a lush meadow surrounded by towering redwoods, on which the Library now stands. The main building was built in 1966 on the site of the Graves Canyon landfill created during the construction of Highway One in the 1930’s. The caretaker’s cottage adjacent to the main house was added shortly thereafter. Other changes have been made piecemeal since 1981.
After Miller died in 1980, Emil decided to maintain his property as a memorial to his friend. In 1981, with the assistance of the Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT), he converted his home into the Library. Emil spent the rest of his life as director of the new institution, which since has evolved into a local center for the arts.
At his death in 1989, White bequeathed the “HENRY MILLER MEMORIAL LIBRARY, FOUNDED BY EMIL WHITE,” to the BSLT. “With this bequest,” White wrote in his Last Will and Testament, “I am encouraging support and maintenance of said Library, and to promote and enhance the scholarly research and worldwide enjoyment of Henry Miller’s literary and artistic works.”
In 1997 the Library staff, with the blessings of the BSLT, began the process of becoming an independent 501(c) 3 organization. That process is completed.
Henry Miller (1891-1980) is, in the words of one of his biographers, “one of the most famous-and infamous-writers of the twentieth century.” During the eighteen years he spent living in Big Sur, he turned out some of his finest work, including The Rosy Crucifixion, a three-volume epic about his life with his second wife, June; and Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, the story of his life in Big Sur. Miller fell in love with the rugged, isolated region on his first visit in 1944, and decided to move there almost immediately. Upon his arrival in Big Sur, Miller wrote, “Here I will find peace. Here I shall find the strength to do the work I was made to do.” He also became part of a literary and artistic community that included Emil White, Jaime de Angulo, Lillian Boss Ross and her husband Harry Dick, Ephraim Doner, and others. When he first moved to Big Sur, Miller was struggling to make ends meet. Within four years of his arrival, royalties from overseas enabled him to live comfortably in Big Sur, even providing him with the resources to purchase a house on Partington Ridge. Here, with his third wife, Lepska, he raised his two children, Valentine and Tony. Living in Big Sur obviously had a profound effect on Miller, inspiring him to write: “Peace and solitude! I have had a taste of it, even here in America.” The Big Sur landscape gave him “such a feeling of contentment, such a feeling of gratitude was mine that instinctively my hand went up in benediction. Blessings! Blessings on you, one and all! I blessed the trees, the birds, the dogs, the cats, I blessed the flowers, the pomegranates, the thorny cactus, I blessed men and women everywhere, no matter on what side of the fence they happened to be.” Miller lived in Big Sur until 1962, when he moved to Pacific Palisades, where he resided until his death in 1980.
Emil White, Library Founder Emil White was one of Henry Miller’s closest friends and confidants. Miller, in fact, dedicated Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch to White, describing him as “One of the few friends who has never failed me.” While he is known primarily for his association with Miller, White was one of Big Sur’s most colorful characters and a remarkable person in his own right. Born in Austria in 1901, White journeyed to Budapest during World War I, where he was arrested as a revolutionary. Just 15 at the time, he was condemned to death but amazingly escaped. Two years after his brush with a firing squad, White immigrated to the United States. There, in 1942, he met Miller in Chicago outside a bookstore where White worked. Though Miller’s work was virtually unknown in the U.S., White was already a great fan of the struggling writer. The two men became fast friends, and when Miller moved to Big Sur two years later, he asked White to join him as a caretaker and personal secretary, eventually paying him $5 a week to handle his correspondence. In Big Sur, White started to paint. “Painting satisfied my need for creativity,” he said. “It gave me a feeling of great accomplishment.” White’s charming oils and watercolors, distinctively primitive in style, remain today among the most popular images of the Big Sur coast. To support himself in Big Sur, White published tour guides. These sold well and helped him achieve the financial security that ultimately enabled him to purchase the property that is now the Henry Miller Library. After establishing the Library, White spent his remaining years as director of the new institution, which evolved into a local center of the arts. While Miller chose to spend his final years in Los Angeles, White remained in Big Sur until his death in 1989. In an interview he gave shortly before his death, White was asked whether he had any regrets. He responded, “I only wished I had moved to Big Sur sooner.”
(Editor’s Note: Shortly after I moved to Big Sur in 1985, I had the pleasure of visiting the HML while Emil White was in residence. He was an incredible “ladies” man, and latched on to me, literally. It is an experience I shall never forget!)
History and first photo provided by Magnus Toren, curator of the HML. Second two photos creative commons and fair use. Thanks, so much Magnus for helping me kick off this new feature!!
For current events and information about the Henry Miller Library, visit their website at:
Yes, there is going to be a benefit for Don Case, who lost his home and all it contained in the Basin Fire, but not his many friends and family. The event will be held at the Henry Miller Library. It will include: a 200 person, $50 dollar per ticket evening of food, wine, film, music. Mike Gilson of CPOA is leading the charge, with the marvelous support and organizational talent of Patte Kronlund. I’ve already got my tickets reserved.
Mike has promised to get back to me with the details of the event, and I will, of course, share them here. I also will post how you can donate, if you are unable to attend the event. Stay tuned …