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Full text of "The Jack London story and the Beauty Ranch : oral history transcript / 2001"

University of California Berkeley 



Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 



Milo Shepard 
THE JACK LONDON STORY AND THE BEAUTY RANCH 



With an Introduction by 
Earle Labor 



Interviews Conducted by 

Caroline C. Crawford 

in 2000 



Copyright 2001 by The Regents of the University of California 



Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading 
participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the development of 
northern California, the West, and the nation. Oral history is a method of 
collecting historical information through tape-recorded interviews between a 
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well- 
informed interviewer, with the goal of preserving substantive additions to the 
historical record. The tape recording is transcribed, lightly edited for 
continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The corrected 
manuscript is indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and 
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, 
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete 
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in 
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, 
and irreplaceable. 



************************************ 



All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between The Regents of the University of California and Milo Shepard 
dated September 5, 2000. The manuscript is thereby made available 
for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library 
of the University of California, Berkeley. No part of the 
manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Bancroft Library, 
Mail Code 6000, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000, and 
should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, 
anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. 
The legal agreement with Milo Shepard requires that he be notified 
of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: 



Milo Shepard, "The Jack London Story and 
the Beauty Ranch," an oral history 
conducted in 2000 by Caroline C. Crawford, 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 
Library, University of California, 
Berkeley, 2001. 



Copy no. 




Milo Shepard and London scholar Jeanne Reesman at the Kunde Winery Caves, 
Kenwood, California, 1995. 



Cataloging information 



SHEPARD, MILO (b. 1925) Farmer and Owner of Jack London Ranch 

The Jack London Story and the Beauty Ranch, 2001, v, 210 pp. 

The Jack London family, including grandmother Eliza London Shepard and 
father Irving Shepard; memories of growing up on the London "Beauty" Ranch 
and of Charraian Kittredge London; London daughters Joan Abbot and Becky 
London; the controversy surrounding the London estate and London s alleged 
suicide; London biographers, including Irving Stone and Sailor on 
tforseback; London scholarship; history of the Jack London Ranch and 
London s agrarian dream; development of Jack London State Park; issues of 
development and conservation in Sonoma County; running the London vineyards 
in the 21st century. Includes interviews with Sue Hodson, Jeanne Reesman, 
Waring Jones, and Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin. 

Introduction by London scholar Dr. Earle Labor, Centenary College, 
Shreveport, Louisiana. 

Interviews conducted by Caroline Cooley Crawford in 2000 for the 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley. 



ACKNOWLEDGMENT 



The Bancroft Library, on behalf of future researchers, 

wishes to thank Waring Jones, 

whose generous contribution made possible 

this oral history of Milo Shepard. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS- -Milo Shepard 

INTRODUCTION by Earle Labor i 

INTERVIEW HISTORY by Caroline Crawford ill 

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION v 



I JACK LONDON: BACKGROUND 1 
Jack London s Parents: John London and Flora Wellman 1 
Eliza London 4 
Eliza and James Shepard 9 
Irving Shepard, London Ranch Management, and the Shepard Family 12 
Memories of Life on the London Ranch 16 

II CHARMIAN KITTREDGE LONDON 21 
Charmian, Jack, and Wake Robin 21 
Charmian and Milo Shepard 24 
Charmian and Jack and Charmian s Diaries 27 
Life on the Ranch: Guests and Workers 32 
Jack London s Daughters Joan and Becky and the London Estate 39 
Waring Jones Collection 42 
More about Jack and Charmian 45 
Hazen Cowan, a Riding Companion 50 
Charmian s House of Happy Walls 

The Controversy about Jack London and the Gift of Happy Walls 

and London Biographers 59 

Charmian s Last Days 64 

Irving and Jean Stone and Sailor on Horseback, and the Question 

of London s Suicide 68 

About London Scholarship 84 

III THE BEAUTY RANCH 

Chinese and Italian Workers; the Barns and the Piggery 

Ninetta Eames: Aunt Netta 92 

London s Dream for Beauty Ranch 95 
Irving Shepard: Ranch Management, 1934-1974, Film Rights, 

and the Guest Ranch 

Gifts of Ranch Property to the State of California 102 

More about London s Agrarian Dream 107 

Innovations: Livestock, Eucalyptus, Hollow-Block Silos 117 
The Socialist Farmer-Writer and Dealings with Publishers, 

Ranch Guests, and Ranch Rules 

IV THE RANCH FROM 1974 TO TODAY 126 
Issues of Development and Conservation in Sonoma County and 

Farmers versus Trail Advocates L26 
Working as a Park Ranger and the Ranger System 
Planting Vineyards on the Ranch 



The Vineyard Workers 142 

Running the Vineyard in the Twenty-first Century 148 



INTERVIEW WITH SUE HODSON, JEANNE REESMAN, AND WARING JONES 

JACK LONDON COLLECTIONS AND SCHOLARSHIP 155 

The Huntington Library Archives 155 
Collections at Utah State University, Centenary College, and 

Sonoma State College 159 

Current Trends in London Scholarship 163 
Readers and Students of London s Work and the Jack London 

Society 167 

INTERVIEW WITH JACQUELINE TAVERNIER AND MILO SHEPARD 173 

Discovering Jack London in France 173 

Jack London and His Women: Eliza and Charmian 175 
New Perspectives: Bessie Maddern; Charmian and Eliza Later in 

Life 180 

Anna Strunsky 186 

Bessie s and Charmian s Relationship and Aunt Netta Earaes 189 
Setting the Record Straight: London s Support of Flora and 

Bessie; London s Relationship with Charmian 191 

Scholarship about London: The Jack London Society 196 

Questions about the London Inheritance 199 

Collections of London Materials 201 

TAPE GUIDE 205 

INDEX 206 



INTRODUCTION by Earle Labor 



MILO SHEPARD: VINTAGE RANCHER AND SCHOLAR 



"I believe the soil is our one indestructible asset," declared 
Jack London: "I am rebuilding worn-out hillside lands that were worked 
out and destroyed by our wasteful California pioneer farmers. ... 
Everything I build is for the years to come." During the past 
generation, that declaration has been dramatically reaffirmed by 
London s great-nephew--as witnessed by the verdant vine-covered contours 
on the side of Sonoma Mountain as well as by this remarkable series of 
interviews. 

Knowing Milo, I expect him to bridle a bit at being labeled 
"scholar." However, if we recollect the meaning of that term as defined 
by Ralph Waldo Emerson, we may see that our friend is a perfect fit. 
According to Emerson, the true scholar (distinguished from the mere 
academic or, worse, the "bookworm") is the complete man, influenced by 
Nature and by Action as well as by Books. Milo has worked close to 
nature all his life, in his younger days on the Ranch, later as a park 
ranger, and during this past generationin his own vintage years as 
one of California s leading viticulturalists. Action, says Emerson, is 
essential to the true scholar: "Without it, he is not yet man. Without 
it, thought can never ripen into truth." Throughout his varied career 
Milo Shepard has been a man of action whose thought has consistently 
ripened into productive truth. 

As for the influence of books, they "are the best of things, well 
used; abused, among the worst," advises Emerson. "What is the right 
use?" he asks: "They are for nothing but to inspire." In Milo s hands, 
books have surely been inspirationalfurthering not only his own 
understanding of the complexities of grape-growing and professional 
scholarship but also the work of those who have dedicated themselves to 
more fully comprehending the fascinating world of Jack London. Since 
assuming the heavy responsibilities of managing the London Ranch along 
with the London/ Shepard literary estate, Milo has become a leading force 
in bringing long-overdue recognition to Jack London as a major figure in 
American literature and, arguably, America s "Greatest World Author." 
By providing ready access to vital research materials, he has brought 
significant new light into our understanding of London s extraordinarily 
complex character and career. Because of this and because of his work 
in co-editing the Stanford publications of London s letters and short 
stories, Centenary College awarded I. Milo Shepard the prestigious 
degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 1999. 

Even while Milo s actions speak eloquently for themselves, "Your 
voice needs to be heard," Caroline Crawford tells him. And that voice 



ii 

is heard clearly in these five recorded sessions: modifying 
misconceptions, rectifying time-worn canards, clarifying our vision-- 
thereby giving us valuable insights into the character of the speaker as 
well as into the natures of his subjects. Here is a man speaking 
honestly and directly from first-hand experience. For example, herein 
we may accurately view, perhaps for the first time, Charmian London as 
she was seen by a man who knew her personally: a courageous woman who 
"would challenge anything" but who "never boasted" and "never gossiped" 
-a woman who was gritty but "feminine, very feminine"- -one who was 
attractive enough in her eighties to turn men s heads. Herein we may 
see, also perhaps for the first time, the generous indeed, at times, 
heroicrole played by the Shepard family in preserving "for years to 
come" the lands restored by Jack London. Finally, herein we may 
discover a key to the successful growing of grapes and, even more 
instructively, a profile of the true scholar: "A Man for All Cultural 
and Agricultural Seasons." 

Earle Labor 

Wilson Professor of American Literature 

Centenary College of Louisiana 

November 2001 
Shreveport, Louisiana 



ill 
INTERVIEW HISTORY--Milo Shepard 



The Jack London Ranch, originally fourteen hundred acres of golden 
hills and forest, rises above the small Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen 
in the Valley of the Moon. 

Jack London had not intended to become a rancher, but as he 
acquired more and more land, buying a dozen and a half bankrupt ranches, 
he realized that much of the land was exhausted because of poor 
agricultural practices, and he decided to build a model ranch along the 
lines his father John London had envisioned in Alameda and Livermore. 
"The challenge to me is this," he wrote. "By using my head, my judgment, 
and all the latest knowledge in the matter of fanning, can I make a 
success where these eighteen men failed? I have pledged myself, my 
manhood, my fortune, my books, and all I possess to this undertaking." 
Of the first ranch he purchased, the Hill Ranch, he wrote: "There are 
hundreds of firs, tan-bark and live-oaks, madrone and manzanita galore. 
There are deep canyons, streams of water, springs. It is one hundred 
and thirty acres of the most beautiful, primitive lands to be found 
anywhere in America." 

It was in the Shepard house on the London Ranch where the 
interviews with Milo Shepard took place, in a room overlooking the 
vineyards. Just outside the windows on the terrace, hummingbirds 
stopped at several feeders and the Mexican workers harvested the grapes 
below. 

Milo Shepard, whose grandmother Eliza London was Jack London s 
stepsister, was born in 1925 and raised on the Beauty Ranch, which was 
purchased by London in various acreages after 1905. London left the 
Ranch to his wife Charmian at his death in 1916; at her death the 
property went to Eliza and then to Eliza s son Irving and eventually to 
Irving s children in 1975. Milo Shepard, one of Irving s two sons, has 
managed it since 1974. In the history Milo remembers both Eliza and 
Charmian, who lived on the Ranch until their deaths in 1939 and 1955. 

The genesis of the oral history was a meeting between Bancroft 
Library Director Charles Faulhaber and Waring Jones, a playwright and 
collector of London papers, at the Bohemian Grove in the summer of 2000. 
Jones, a friend of the Shepard family, talked with Faulhaber about 
London and the controversies surrounding his life, and Jones suggested 
that Milo Shepard might be able to set the record straight on a number 
of issues, including Irving Stone s biography Sailor on Horseback, which 
documents London s much-disputed suicide and the contested London will. 

Shepard agreed to be interviewed and work began early in 
September. Our five conversations spanned the seasons. After the first 
interview in early September, I walked in the 90-degree heat of the 



iv 

afternoon to what was to have been London s dream house. Wolf House 
burned to ashes before it was completed in August, 1913. It is now a 
huge shell of volcanic rock pavilions and charred timber. Fall came 
within weeks. The air was scented with bay and the hillsides had turned 
amber and red after the third interview, when a park ranger and I took 
horses from the park perimeter up to the lake on the spiny mountain 
trail London had so often ridden with Charmian. After the final 
interview Milo and I drove down into the vineyards to talk with the 
Mexican forewoman, Caterina Ordaz, mayor of her hometown in Michoacan, 
Mexico, and manager of the crew of sixty men who pick some 500 tons of 
grapes each year on the 124 acres of Ranch vineyards. 

Short interviews with a number of London scholars were added to 
the text at the Fifth Biennial London Symposium in Santa Rosa in 
October, 2000: Jeanne Reesman of the University of Texas at San Antonio, 
Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin of the University of Ottawa, and Sara 
Hodson, curator of the London collections at the Huntington Library in 
Pasadena, California. Waring Jones took part in one of the 
conversations . 

Milo Shepard reviewed and returned the transcripts with minor 
changes, and at a brief summer session answered a few additional 
questions to expand on the text. Later in the fall we sorted through 
his files for photographs of Jack London and the Shepard family and I 
videotaped Milo as we walked through the vineyards and he talked about 
sustainable agricultural practices, bloom to harvest, and how his 
methods differ from those London used. Milo said, "If you see a vine 
and it s wilted, it will die on you. If the color is changing, then it 
is crying for something. The vine tells you what it needs." "What did 
Jack London love about this country?" I asked. "Its beauty," He 
replied. 

Special thanks to Waring Jones for suggesting the oral history and 
raising funds for it, and to Jim Kantor for proofreading the text. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established in 1954 to 
augment through tape-recorded memoirs the Library s materials on the 
history of California and the West. Copies of all interviews are 
available for research use in The Bancroft Library and in the UCLA 
Department of Special Collections. The office is under the direction of 
Richard Candida Smith, Director, and the administrative direction of 
Charles B. Faulhaber, James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley. 

Caroline Crawford 
Interviewer /Editor 

January 2001 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 



Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION 
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SIGNATURE , / j6 W /S4 / DATE: 

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INTERVIEW WITH MILO SHEPARD 



I JACK LONDON: BACKGROUND 
[Interview 1: September 5, 2000] If 

Jack London s Parents; John London and Flora Wei] 



Crawford: I m with Milo Shepard in his home on the Jack London Ranch in 
Glen Ellen, and we re going to talk today about Milo s 
grandmother, Eliza London Shepard, who was the daughter of Jack 
London s father, John London, by a first marriage, born in 
1867. Milo, let s begin with your filling me in on your 
connection to the London family. 

Shepard: My connection with the London family as you say is that my 

grandmother was Jack London s stepsister. Whether or not that 
is true is up for discussion. She always claimed that they were 
half-brother and sister. 

John London was a very straight, God-fearing man, and it s 
difficult to believe that he would take in a woman with a 
little child, especially a woman involved in Flora Wellman s 
lifestyle, unless he was the father of the child. 

Crawford: Flora Wellman was Jack London s mother and she had traveled to 
the West Coast from Ohio and had apparently taken up with W. H. 
Chaney and others in a San Francisco boarding house where they 
lived. Many thought that Chaney was Jack s father. Can you 
set that record straight? 

Shepard: Chaney wrote London two letters in which he said that it was 
impossible for him to be his father because he had slept with 
many women and was impotent . 



l ti This symbol indicates that a tape or tape segment has begun or ended. 
A guide to the tapes follows the transcript. 



Crawford: And as you say John London acknowledged paternity. Well, what 
about Flora Wellman? 

Shepard: Well, Flora Wellman--! don t know too much about her story. 

Flora held seances, I know, and she made money by holding these 
seances. 

Crawford: And she had taken the names of two men before she met John 
London? 

Shepard: Yes. She came from a very upper-middle-class family from Ohio, 
came out West and could never make it. She lived with several 
different men. 

Crawford: Did she have a boarding house, or did she simply live in a 
boarding house? 

Shepard: No, she lived in a boarding house. They were a group of 

astrologers, seance people, something like that--a group that 
traveled around the West, and San Francisco was sort of 
headquarters for them. So that s about what I know about her. 

Crawford: There was a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that when she 
was expecting the birth of Jack London, Chaney, who was the 
presumed father, said he didn t want her to have that child, so 
she tried to take her life. 

Shepard: That s correct. Yes, she tried to take her life. 

Crawford: People thought that Chaney might well have been the father 
because he looked so much like Jack London and because his 
writing style was similar. What do you think about that? 

Shepard: Well, the problem with that is that John London looked like 

Chaney, too. You see a picture of the two men, you think it s 
the same person. What I m saying is that John London and 
Chaney look alike, so if Jack looked like Chaney- -Jack looked 
like John London also. 



But in Eliza s mind there was no doubt they were brother 
and sister. Within the family I did not know anything about 
this until I was in my teens. I always thought Jack and Eliza 
were brother and sister. 

Crawford: That was Just assumed. 

Shepard: Well, it was never discussed. In other words, you don t 

discuss those things in your family. When as a child on the 
Ranch I came home from school, sometimes people would stop me 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford; 



Shepard: 



and say, "Is it true that Charmian London is living in that 
house and won t let anyone in, and your father just puts food 
outside for her?" 

All these horrible stories: Jack London rode a white horse 
down to Glen Ellen and got drunk in the bar. Russ Kingraan has 
tapes of people saying this, so it becomes fact because they 
said it. Well, Jack London never owned a white horse, and if 
he got so drunk in Glen Ellen that they put him on the horse 
and hit the horse and the horse took him home, that horse had 
to be pretty smart because he had to go through three gates to 
reach the Ranch. [ laughter J 



That s pretty much proof the story isn t true, 
you know of John London? 



Well, what do 



John London came from back East, and he put daughters Eliza and 
Ida and his small son in the orphanage up in Marysville and 
came down to San Francisco to find work. 

Three of his ten children; his wife had died, I think. 
Yes. And he left some children back in the Midwest. 
Did he have ten--in all a total of ten? 

Well, I don t know. Some say nine, some say eleven, some say 
seven, but anyway, Eliza and Ida were the youngest. So he went 
to San Francisco, and then he was in a boarding house, and I 
guess Flora was there that s how they met. I m not sure about 
that. So he married her and then brought the two children 
down. Some people say he married Flora because he needed 
somebody to take care of his two girls. 

Had he come here for the health of his son and his son 
subsequently died? 

Yes, his son needed treatment. He d been hurt. I think Eliza 
had typhoid, which was very common in those days with children, 
and California was known as a healthier place. Money was to be 
made here, especially for a tradesman after the 1906 
earthquake, and a lot of them came for that, but he came pre- 
1906. San Francisco was building, and it was a good place for 
a carpenter- -however, he moved very shortly over to the East 
Bay. 

I get a kick out of these London biographies. Earle 
Labor s Twayne series book is a very good one. Others, such 
as Jack London: Life on the Wharves of San Francisco--well, 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



London was never on the wharves of San Francisco. It was 
always the wharves of Oakland, the estuary, [laughter] 

So anyway, the Londons moved around in various places. I 
think they lived in seven different homes, a couple of ranches. 

Jack was born in 1876, some time before Flora married John 
London. Is that right? 

Yes, Jack was born about six months before the marriage. The 
question is whether John London knew Flora. He was in the 
area, and whether he had relations with her or not. Russ 
Kingman claimed he had some information on that and believed 
that he could prove it, but it never came out. 

John London was born in 1828, I believe, and had been in the 
Civil War on the Northern side? 

Yes. He was wounded, and he wasn t a very well man. He died-- 
I guess it would be in 1898, 97. When London was up in the 
Klondike, John London died. 



Eliza London 



Crawford: He and your grandfather Shepard were more or less 

contemporaries, were they, born in the 1830s? I believe James 
Shepard was born around 1830? 

Shepard: That s correct. James Shepard had boarded at the Londons 1 in 
Oakland. Eliza was sixteen at the time, and she found it was 
difficult living in the house. I guess I should put it that 
Flora was sort of eccentric. London would make a little money, 
be successful at something, and then the money would disappear. 
He d go out and try another venture. Eliza was really upset 
with that, so while Shepard was boarding with the Londons, 
Eliza married him, in 1883. 

He was what they called a bonus attorney. He was an 
attorney for the veterans of the Civil War. I sent this 
material down to the Huntington Library from his files. 
Evidently Massachusetts would not send troops directly into the 
Union Army, so they came out to California, and from California 
they went in. Anyway, Shepard, my grandfather, mined gold in 
California in 1848- 49. He was about seventeen years old when 
he came out . Then he went back East . 



Crawford: Do you know where the mines were? 

Shepard: Yes, up at Modesto, up on those rivers--what is it?--the 
Mokelumne or the Stanislaus? Up in the foothills of the 
Sierras. And then when the Civil War occurred, he raised two 
companies of troops in Modesto. He was first a lieutenant and 
then a captain in the Civil War, the First California Cavalry. 
Then after the war he became a bonus attorney and represented 
veterans who were injured. In fact, I think his nameplate is 
on a monument at the veterans home in Yountville. 

So anyway, he was involved with veterans affairs, the Grand 
Army of the Republic and all that sort of thing. Eliza got 
involved with them, and she studied and eventually became an 
attorney also. 

Crawford: How did she do that? 

Shepard: This is just the way you worked. In fact, my father went to 

grammar school, and he went one year to high school, two years 
to Santa Rosa Business College, and then to UC Davis. You 
didn t go, in those days necessarily, to four years of high 
school. 

Crawford: No, that s right. Just like Jack London didn t. 

Well, when John London married Flora Wellman in 1876, your 
grandmother Eliza was about eight, and Jack was a baby and 
apparently they were devoted to each other throughout their 
lives. 

Shepard: When Eliza got married, it really hurt Jack. He lost two 

people, Mammy Jennie and Eliza, he depended on during his early 
life. He depended on his whole life and had a relationship 
with Eliza. Mammy Jennie- -he borrowed money from her to get 
his first little sloop, but then she got very sick, and she 
actually was committed to Napa Mental Institution and died over 
there. 

Crawford: Jennie Prentiss, a black neighbor who was his wet nurse. 

Shepard: Prentiss, yes. And she died over there. I don t know if it 
was in Jack s will or not, but I know that money was given to 
Jennie Prentiss her whole life. 

Crawford: Did she help him find work as a janitor at the high school? 

Shepard: It could have been Jennie s husband. He wasn t long on those 

jobs. All the razzle-dazzle about him during the oyster pirate 



days. Again, he was maybe six months an oyster pirate, that 
long. And maybe he was six months on the fish patrol. 

I m not sure on a lot of those things. 1 hear that they 
occurred, but some of the specifics, I don t know. As I said, 
I know that Eliza s stepson [Herbert Shepard] got him a job in 
a laundry. He was manager of the laundry at the Belmont 
Academy in San Mateo. 

But Eliza was always there, and Eliza gave him what they 
call his grubstake for his venture up to Alaska. Shepard went 
with him, but when he saw the Chilkoot Pass, he just gave Jack 
all of his supplies, and he came back. He was an old man at 
that time. 

Crawford: That was in 1897, the Klondike expedition? 
Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: And I read that Eliza mortgaged the house to be able to give 
them the $500 they needed to outfit themselves. 

Shepard: Yes, $500 was a lot of money in those days. 

Crawford: Where did she get the money? Or she was married by then? 

Shepard: She was married, but she was also making money, she was a sharp 
woman, and she saved and invested. Her whole life she did 
this. Because of her husband, she got involved with GAR. 

Crawford: GAR? 

Shepard: GAR, Grand Army of the Republic. And then after World War I, 
she became involved with the American Legion and was the third 
national president of American Legion Auxiliary. She went to 
Europe. They got a whole ship to go over to Paris for a 
convention. 

But when she married, it really hurt Jack, and there was a 
few years in there that he was gone, and yet he was always in 
contact with her. 

[tape interruption: Interviewee and Interviewer leave room to look at some 
of London s books] 

Shepard: These books, a set of first editions, are autographed to Eliza. 
This is an inscription from the road. "Dear Sister Eliza, I 
know I worried you greatly in the days of wandering, but 



anyway, I always came back, and here we are. Your loving 
brother, Jack London. Glen Ellen, August 29, 1912." 

This is from The Abysmal Brute: "Dear Sister Eliza, Time. 
Ring the gong. And here we are, you and I, fighting side by 
side to subdue the land and make two blades of grass grow where 
one grew before. In all love, Jack London. The Ranch, 1913." 

This is from The Valley of the Moon: "Dear Sister Eliza. 
We know where lies the Valley of the Moon. You and I in the 
Valley of the Moon, in our small way, yours and mine, will be a 
better valley for our having been. Your loving brother, Jack 
London, 1914." 

This is the last book he published before he died, Tales of 
the Tazman, 1916. In fact, this is written October 7, 1916. 
He died in November 1916. "Dear Sister Eliza, The years go by. 
The illusions depart, yet here you and I abide in our Valley of 
the Moon. Fondest love, Jack London." 

I ve got the complete set. I was going to give it to some 
institution. My oldest son Neil may want to keep it. "Dad, 
let me think it over." 

Crawford: I read that Eliza s departing, her marrying Shepard in 1883 

really almost brought the family farm down because she did so 
much: took care of the chickens--is that all true? She was 
only sixteen. 

Shepard: Yes, she was sixteen when she married him and he was about 

fifty-three years old. It wasn t uncommon in those days for a 
young woman to marry an older man. 

Crawford: It s a big age difference, though. 

Shepard: Well, there were big age differences that occurred in the West 
in those days, if you really look into it. We ve got many 
ranches that were run by widows , young widows , after their 
husbands died. They were in their sixties and seventies, and 
they were in their thirties when their husbands died. There 
might have been forty years difference between them. It was 
security. It was the older men that had the money in the West. 
So it was the financial security, to marry an older man. 

Eliza had my father in 1899, and they lived in Oakland. I 
believe that Shepard was the father of Irving. Irving Stone 
claimed that the next-door neighbor was the father. None of 
that has shown up. I understand there s nothing left of the 
Stone collectionthat someone has gone in there and pulled 



everything out. A lot of it is gone. No one knows who did 
that, but the people who saw it earlierthere was just a lot 
more material in it. 

Crawford: You said John London moved around a great deal. His fortunes 
went up and down. 

Shepard: Yes, he moved around. He had farms down in Albany and was very 
successful with produce that he sold. 

Crawford: And that farm went down in 1886, shortly after Eliza married. 
And then they moved back to Oakland. 

Shepard: Back to Oakland again. But there was a period in there--! 

don t know when Eliza left Shepard, but I know that she moved 
up here to the Ranch, what they call the Fish Ranch, down by 
Wake Robin, in 1910, when London bought the Kohler-Frohling 
Ranch. She came up to the fix the cottage up, and the Londons 
were on their four-horse trip. She also built a house for 
herself up on the hill in 1913, which the family still owns. 
It s in part of the parcel that we retained after the state got 
the majority of the Ranch in 1978-79. 

She came so she could be up here and manage the Ranch. 
Shepard stayed in Oakland, and then my father said in the 
summertime he used to go to Knight s Ferry over by Modesto. He 
was a jeweler out there. 

So he had a jewelry shop. And then, of course, he got 
upset with London one time. He came to the Ranch, and he was 
going to kill him because he claimed Jack London stole his 
wife. 

Crawford: That the marriage was broken up because of 

Shepard: Because of Jack. He blamed Jack for the breakup. I don t 
knowhe died in 1919, when he was in his nineties. They 
wouldn t let my father come home from World War I for the 
funeral. And he s buried at the Presidio. 

Crawford: As a Civil War veteran. 

Shepard: As a Civil War veteran, in the Presidio. 



Eliza and James Sheoard 



Crawford: What do you know of their life together? 

Shepard: They were very active. They had the J. H. Shepard & Company, 
and Eliza always used to say she was "the company." In the 
divorce proceeding, she ended up with the company. 

Crawford: How did that happen? 

Shepard: She knew what she wanted, is what happened. Anyway, that s 

what occurred there. But, again, Eliza, till the day she died, 
was involved with veterans things. I guess it was in 1936 the 
American Legion backed the Republican governor of California. 
From that point on, the American Legion started to go down, but 
it had a lot of political power after World War I. 

II 

Crawford: Do you know something more about the Grand Army of the 
Republic? 

Shepard: Well, the Grand Army of the Republic was an organization for 

Civil War veterans, like the American Legion was for World War 
I and Veterans of Foreign War was for World War I. There were 
never any veterans rights groups before the Grand Army of the 
Republic. I don t know what position my grandfather had in it. 
I gave all that material to my son, who is named after him. He 
had all kinds of medals and commanders and past commanders and 
all that stuff. 

Crawford: Do you have any photographs of him? 

Shepard: I don t, no. I do of Eliza, but not of him. I may have--I 

think there are a couple of photographs of him that have been 
published somewhere, but I don t have one. 

Crawford: He had children, on his own? 

Shepard: Yes. He was married when he went back East after the Civil 
War, and he raised a family, and then he came out to 
California. 1 don t know how many children he had. I met Burt 
and Helen, and there was another one out herethree of them 
that I know of. Bessie married a Jurgewitz. Bessie. There 
were four. 

Crawford: So Burt, Helen, and Bessie you remember. 



10 



Shepard: Burt, Helen, Bessie, and it s in the biographies, the other one 
was the one that Jack London worked for, Herbert, who ran the 
academy, the laundry. Those are the only ones I know. 

When I was a kid, why, Eliza found them all jobs during the 
Depression. They lived with Eliza--Eliza took care of so many 
people! Relatives and others aunts and uncles to me. 

And she was tough on the Ranch. You know the story that 
London never turned a hobo away or anything like that. Eliza 
would feed them two or three times and then tell them to take 
the sign off the gate and never come back if they wouldn t go 
to work. But she always helped them. 

There was a story about her that I was told by a woman 
friend who went over to France aboard ship. In a big ballroom, 
they had a function, and Eliza got up on the stage, and she 
asked all the officers who were in the front rows to go to the 
back and all the men in wheelchairs to come down front so they 
could see and hear the program, whatever it was. 

Crawford: Was she active in society apart from politics? 

Shepard: Oh, yes. One of her lovers was Cordell Hull. She almost 
married him. That s the interesting thing about Eliza and 
Charmian. The two of them. Both of them had famous people as 
lovers, but neither one of them would ever marry again. Jack 
London was --they lived for him. If you really look at it, 
their job was to take as much off of his back as possible so he 
could work. It wasn t until Eliza came along that finances and 
things started to get all straightened out. Ninetta-- 
Charmian s auntscrewed things up. 

He had to come back from the South Seas, from the Snark 
cruise, because he had money stolen and all that kind of thing. 
Ninetta was involved with the Overland Monthly, as I ve said, 
and her husband was the captain of the Snark who didn t know 
how to navigate, even. So London had to navigate to the 
Hawaiian Islands. 

But it s interesting, the gregariousness of a number of 
people that they were involved in during their lives. 

Crawford: Wouldn t that have been unusual, for Eliza to be known to have 
lovers? 

Shepard: Well, these women were very discreet about it. 
Crawford: They were. But you know some of them. 



: : 



Shepard: Well, I knew of it, yes. But never here. She was still young. 
She was active in politics. Knew all the senators; knew so 
many different people. Very close friend to Lindbergh. I can 
drop names right and left, of people coming to their Ranch. 
Even after or during World War II. Ernie Pyle was here before 
he went out and was killed. I was just a kid when Amundsen was 
here, and they phoned him at the Ranch and asked him to go and 
look for the Italian explorers who were trying to get to the 
North Pole. They came out, but Amundsen was never heard from 
again. 

Crawford: So she was a live wire, your grandmother. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. She was a leader. 

Crawford: What else was she involved with that you know? 

Shepard: Well, she was very much involved with the community, with state 
politics. I would go to Sacramento with her as a young eighth- 
grader. Went up to see the state capitol and all this bit. 
She said hello to all the wigs and the governor. I mean, she 
was just involved politically, yet always in the background. 
She was a doer. She didn t have to have her ego fed, didn t 
have to. 

So that s why not too much is recorded, as I said, about 
the governor appointing her in 1906 to take care of all the 
relief efforts, coordinating the Army, the Red Cross and the 
Salvation Army, in the 1906 earthquake. 

Oh, she was tough! You know, a kid 11 never forget. She 
had made a trip up in Oregon. She stopped at the Oregon Woolen 
Mills and brought back some blankets. I was in the same room 
with my brother, and she gave my brother one blanket and gave 
me one. Well, I told her I didn t like the color of mine, I 
liked the color of Jack s, my brother s, and she said, "Well, 
if you don t like it, well, you don t need it." I never saw 
that blanket again! [laughs] Teaches you in a hurry when 
you re given something you accept it. 

Crawford: You mentioned how many people she took care of, and I remember 
reading that Bessie Maddern, Jack London s first wife, and 
Flora did not get along well, so she was kind of mediating 
there, and I think at one point she moved in with Bessie, 
didn t she? 

Shepard: That s right. 

Crawford: To keep her away from Flora? 



L2 



Shepard: Well, they were still in the house together, to keep things 
smooth. I really don t know too much about the Bessie and 
Flora bit, only what I ve read and, of course, what I ve heard 
from the family. But at my age now, I ve read so much and 
everything that I can talk a little bit about it and say what I 
know from memories . 

For instance, the type person they were. I got pretty 
badly beaten up by the principal, who lost his cool and used a 
pointer, when I was in grammar school. I walked home, and my 
back was all bloody. Boy, the men were going to go down and 
beat him up. Eliza said, "If one of you men leave this Ranch 
in the next week," she said, "I ll fire the whole bunch of 
you." [laughs] 

Crawford: She would have. 
Shepard: She would have. 



Irving Shepard. London Ranch Management, and the Shepard Family 



Crawford: Let s talk about your father now, and his management of the 
Ranch later on. 

Shepard: He came back from World War I and just worked the Ranch, sort 
of a foreman. Four children. My older brother was born in 
1921, and then two years later my older sister, and a year 
later, I was born, 25, and then three years later my little 
sister, Joy, who s named after Charmian s daughter who lived 
for two or three days. 

Crawford: What was the relationship between your father and Jack London? 
There was a twenty-three-year age difference. 

Shepard: You have to realize, and again, this applies to people who say 
they knew Jack London or locals who say what Jack London did-- 
the fact that London was never any place in his life very long. 
He was in Glen Ellen for five years, from 1911 to 1916, and 
during those five years he was six months on the cruise of the 
Derrigo, he was twice in the Hawaiian Islands for six months, 
he was down in Vera Cruz, he was traveling. So my father 
idolized him, but didn t have much contact with Jack London. 
He was gone, and he was writing. 



13 



My mother s side of the family knew him- -they came to 
California in the 1850s, but they settled up in northern 
California, the little town of Greenville, Indian Valley. 

My great-grandmother and then my grandmother were born up 
there. She married a man by the name of Ranker, who was the 
head blacksmith when they put the Western Pacific Railroad down 
the Feather River Canyon. He moved down to Berkeley when the 
oldest boy reached high school age because they didn t have any 
high schools up in that country. 

So they moved down, and then they moved to Glen Ellen, and 
he had a blacksmith shop in Glen Ellen, and my mother became 
Eliza s secretary. 

Crawford: What was your mother s name? 

Shepard: Mildred, Mildred Ranker Shepard. And she knew Jack and 

Charmian very well. But she said only a couple or three times 
they actually sat down and had dinner with the Londons. She 
said there was always a very light atmosphere. There were 
stories told, little games played, and this sort of thing, sort 
of as a release from concentrating on the writing. He loved to 
play jokes on people. That sort of thing. 

For example, he remodeled the guest room, and they had had 
the bed on rubber rollers, with pulleys underneath it and ropes 
going down to the basement. They would go down to the basement 
after the guests got to sleep and they talked about the 1906 
earthquake and a couple of guys would pull one rope and the bed 
would shoot across the room and slide back, as if there was an 
earthquake. He thought that was great. [laughter] 

London told my father that if he didn t smoke--and London 
always had a cigarette in his hand; he smoked Imperial 
cigarettesbut he said if he wouldn t smoke till he was 
twenty-one, he d give him a gold watch. Of course, he died 
before my dad was twenty-one. But you have to realize that the 
Londons had work to do, and they weren t around that much. 

Crawford: Well, what about your parents? Where did they meet? 

Shepard: They met at Glen Ellen. In fact, my father went with my 

mother s sister. My mother was a year older, a year ahead of 
them in school. As I said, it was in 1920, so she was about 
twenty-two, and he was twenty-one when they got married. 

Crawford: Did she go to college? 



14 



Shepard: No, she just graduated from high school, Sonoma High School. 
Crawford: How about your siblings. 

Shepard: Well, Jack was the oldest. He was born in 1921. Jill was born 
in 1923. I was born in 25. My sister Joy was born in 28. 

Crawford: Of course, you were born here. 

Shepard: I was born in the house on the Ranch. It s called Eliza s 
house and it is the one she built. She tore down the 
bunkhouse. It had been a big winery, and this is so 
interesting. London bought it from the bank. Chauvet had 
owned it, but he had a big mortgage, and London bought it from 
the bank. 

The Chauvet Winery was in Glen Ellen. He owned a lot of 
property. This was what had been the Kohler-Frohling winery, 
and it was very large, the largest in northern California. The 
1906 earthquake had knocked it down, so they took all the 
equipment down to Glen Ellen and they used to ship wine around 
to New York. They took all the equipment down to what s called 
Wine Haven in Richmond, and they sold the vineyard to Chauvet. 
They kept ten acres, the property, with the buildings and 
cottage and the old winery buildings. 

So London bought the whole Chauvet property from the bank. 
Eliza comes up. She checks things out, and Chauvet didn t own 
the ten acres. The California Wine Association owned the ten 
acres. So she goes to the California Wine Association and they 
agreed to sell it to her. 

When they had sold the vineyards to Chauvet, they kept the 
water rights for the winery. Chauvet didn t want to lose the 
water rights because he had the water company in Glen Ellen, 
and a line down to Glen Ellen from the Ranch, a water line, so 
there was a lawsuit over that. Chauvet lost. All he could get 
was an overflow right. 

Crawford: When would that have been? 

Shepard: Well, I d say that would be 1912, 11, 12, or something. I 
don t know the exact date of the lawsuit. 

Crawford: What were your first memories up here? 

Shepard: I had horses as a kid. I guess I started to realize, when I 

started going to schooland that s something that bothered me 



: 



my whole lifethat I was always attached to the Jack London 
Ranch. I was never Milo Shepard. 

We had a dairy called the London Ranch Dairy. It was never 
Shepard s Dairy. It wasn t till I put in grapes that I started 
to be recognized as doing something on my own. 

Crawford: Even as a kid? Even as a young boy when you were at school? 

Shepard: I was always introduced as Milo Shepard, Jack London s grand- 
nephew. It was embarrassing. People went up to the Jack 
London Ranch and bragged, "I know Milo Shepard" or blah, blah, 
blah. My two sisters won t have a thing to do with it. Oh, 
they re trustees, but they don t have a thing to do with the 
Jack London literary stuff. 

Crawford: Where do they all live? 

Shepard: Well, my oldest sister went to Stanford and then became a 

Catholic. Her husband was the dean of education at Dominican 
College in San Rafael. He was about fifty when they met. They 
adopted two children and left; went out on their own. She told 
me, "I m moving out. You can have the house and money." 

She made all kinds of money. She operated a set of 
doctors offices in Marin County. Had a business and did very 
well. She eventually became a nun. She went to Mount Angel, 
Oregon, and developed retreat houses and conducted retreats, 
and took people all over to the Vatican, to the Holy Land. 

Crawford: What was her married name? 

Shepard: Aigner. And then she went up to Nanaimo in British Columbia, 
and that s where she is now. She built a couple of retreat 
houses up there. She built a house for four or six nuns there. 
She didn t care for that, so she built another one for two, and 
she has her office there. 

Jill s seventy-seven years old. Both knees have been 
operated on, and she s walked with a walker for years, but she 
still travels. She was over where the cross was introduced in 
lona, in Scotland, in 500 A.D. 

Crawford: Good for her! 
Shepard: Oh, she s a goer. 
Crawford: What about the others? 



16 



Shepard: Well, the other sister went through nursing school, and then 
she married a young fellow and lived most of her life in San 
Marino. He was a manager at Sears stores; he closed the 
western division of Sears and retired when he was fifty. They 
live up here above Oakmont. 

Crawford: And your brother? 

Shepard: My brother was killed on the Ranch in 1965. 

Crawford: A farming accident? 

Shepard: Yes, he turned the jeep over. So anyway, that s what happened, 

Memories of Life on the London Ranch 



Crawford: Let s talk about your parents. What was their approach to the 
London association when you were growing up? 

Shepard: When I was younger, Charmian was in the cottage, where Jack had 
his workroom, and where he died. When they opened the guest 
ranch in 1934, why, Eliza came up, and she had built the House 
of Happy Walls for Charmian. Eliza said, "We built that thing 
for you. Now you re going to move in there," and Eliza moved 
up to the cottage, though she was still actively managing the 
place, although my father sort of took over because Eliza was 
going down hill pretty fast. She died in 1939. So it was just 
sort of a progression. 

Crawford: Around the family dinner table, did you talk about London? 

Shepard: I d say there were fifteen to twenty people at every meal. 
There were all kinds of visitors. I can drop names of the 
various people that came to visit the Ranch and stayed here. 
They were the upper middle class. They were doctors and 
attorneys and people that owned businesses. The manager of 
Merrill Lynch in San Francisco. The Lachmans of the Lachman 
Furniture Company. There were all kinds of people. A lot of 
political people. 

Crawford: These were friends of your parents? 

Shepard: They were friends of my parents, or else they came to stay at 
the guest ranch. The guest ranch started because during the 
Depression it just got too expensive to feed these people that 



17 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



came, friends of the family and friends of Eliza and friends of 
Charraian. 

In the Sonoma paper they have a "Yesterday" section, [which 
reported that] in the 1920s, Charmian was on some count s boat, 
racing in the Mediterranean. They even had a story that when 
the Wolf House burned, everyone was suspected, everyone. Stone 
claims that he s got a statement that Charmian burned the Wolf 
House down, because one of the workmen saw her walking back 
with an empty gasoline can in her hand, saying, "It s going to 
be a hot night tonight." 

This is a letter from Zena Holman of the Holman Department 
Store in Pacific Grove. She has written about Monterey, and 
she gave her collection of Jack London materials to the state 
park, and she gave the state a fabulous Indian collection in 
Monterey. 

But when you mentioned burning of the Wolf House- -Charmian 
did this a lot with people. She had certain things she wanted 
them to come upon. In their library, she had a picture of 
Jack, and she asked them to close their eyes, and she d put a 
light on it. She said, "Now you can see his eyes." So anyway, 
this 11 just take a second to read: 

"Charmian said to Zena Holman, Now I want you to place 
this scarf over your eyes. Do not remove it until we get in 
front of what we came to see." They were going down to the 
Wolf House. When she removed it from my eyes, there was a sad 
but beautiful sight, the large room where she and Jack, Mate 
and Wolf, were to have made their home. The large windows had 
made acquaintance with the large branches of the surrounding 
trees. Tears streamed down my face. I ll never forget what I 
saw. 

"Charmian pointed to the large mountain and told me about 
the impressive ruins. Zena, 1 she said, Jack asked me to go 
horseback riding with him, which we did. He said to me, 
Tomorrow, Mate, we will be in our new home. But tomorrow 
never came for us because the building was burned. Whether 
accidentally or on purpose, who knows? Jack had hired many 
unskilled laborers to work on the Ranch, and it was believed 
the inside woodwork of the house was rubbed down with an 
inflammable material that caused the fire." 

You re convinced nobody started it. 

No, it was spontaneous combustion. It s been proven. The 
thing exploded. They didn t know about spontaneous combustion 



18 



in those days. I don t know what year this was written, but it 
had to be when she was up with Charmian--this was written in 
1974, and Charmian died in 1955, so I don t know what year it 
was. 

Crawford: Interesting. Well, what other memories of growing up on the 
Ranch? What was your life like? 

Shepard: Well, we only had one rule, as far as Charmian was concerned. 

We never were to make any noise around the cottage before noon. 

The rest of the time, we had access to horses. We had the lake 
to swim in. 

Crawford: Where is the lake now? 

Shepard: It s on the state park property. Sadly, they ve let it go to 
heck, but-- 

Crawford: Does the public have access? 

Shepard: Yes, it s public access, but they haven t kept it clean or 
anything. It s a little pond now. 

Crawford: What about your schooling? 

Shepard: My two sisters went to private schools. I went through public 
school. They both went to college. I went to college after 
World War II. My brother finished college just before World 
War II. 

Crawford: Where did you all go? 

Shepard: He went to Cal. I went to Cal, and then I went to Cal Poly. 
But we were exposed to everything. We were exposed to music 
lessons, we were exposed towe d go to San Francisco to the 
ballet, to the symphonies. It was sort of natural. We d go to 
the opera. Even when we got into high school, the high school 
bus would take us down to the opera or symphony. We were read 
to when we were kids, read to extensively. 

Crawford: Who read to you? 

Shepard: Well, our parents, or Eliza s niece, Tommy. She was Ida s 

child. Ida had two children, Tommy and Johnny Miller. Flora 
took over Johnny Miller, and that s when Jack s nose got out of 
joint because she gave so much love to Johnny Miller and not to 
Jack. 

Crawford: Who was Johnny Miller? 



19 



Shepard: Well, Johnny Miller was Ida s son. I don t know what happened 
to Miller, but she later married Jack Byrne. Byrne later 
became Jack London s secretary for a couple a years, but he 
drank too much and he finally let him go. 

Tommy was born in 1910. We called her Tommy. She died 
just a few years ago in her eighties over in Sacramento. But 
she was raised by Eliza, and she took care of us kids, when we 
were little tykes. And we always had a maid, housekeeper at 
the house. Mother wasn t too well during those years. In 
fact, she wasn t well her whole life. 

Crawford: What was the trouble? 

Shepard: Well, she didn t have anything left inside of her that the 
doctor couldn t take out: the gall bladder and- -the tubular 
pregnancy was very serious in those days, and all kinds of 
stuff. She never traveled. She got as far as New York once 
and got sick, and they had to send her home. They were going 
to Europe. 

We were well traveled. Fished every summer. Took 
vacation. We lived an upper-class life. We had 
responsibilities. We took care of hogs and took care of the 
animals and stuff. 



When my brother got his driver s license, I can remember I 
had to take people out on horseback rides, as a guide. I told 
him, "I ll be back to go to the show with you," and he wouldn t 
wait. But I really didn t know my brother too well. He was 
four years older, and he was out of school when I went to high 
school. He went to Harvard Business School and came back to 
the Ranch. People say I did the work and he did the pedigrees. 
We had purebred Jerseys. 

Crawford: Oh, so that s what he studied. 

Shepard: Yes. He was a scholar. He was not a farmer. That s partially 
why he started going to San Francisco and playing around and 
got married. I was milking 150 cows by myself, and finally my 
wife--we had married twin sisters, and my wife had had it. I 
worked three years without a day off. So anyway, I applied and 
became a park ranger. I was only a park ranger for a week when 
my brother killed himself. 

Crawford: On the Ranch. 

Shepard: On the Ranch. Turned the jeep over. 



20 



Crawford: And then you pretty much had to take over? 

Shepard: I stayed in the park service for seven years, and then I came 
back when Dad was getting older. That s when I started the 
vineyard. 

Crawford: What year was your brother killed? 

Shepard: Nineteen sixty-five. He was a straight-A student, an 

intellectual. I remember listening to the radio program 
"Information, Please." He took a question and answered before 
most people would. 



21 



II CHARMIAN KITTREDGE LONDON 
[Interview 2: September 14, 2000] II 

Charmian. Jack, and Wake Robin 



Crawford: This is our second interview, and today I would like to talk 
about Charmian Kittredge. Let us begin with your personal 
recollections of Charmian, because you knew her for decades. 
She must have been in her sixties and seventies when you first 
remembered her. 

Shepard: She died at eighty-three, and I was thirty-some-odd years old. 
Crawford: And that was in 1955? 

Shepard: Yes. Let s see. I m seventy- five now, but I knew her from the 
time I was a little kid. London died in 1916, so there s 
thirty-some-odd years between. Where to start with Charmian? 
Charmian was always immaculate. Charmian always considered her 
body; was always very concerned about her body. And Jack 
London was, too. That s why they took all these drugs and 
stuff. If you look at the number of lists they took and drugs 
that they had-- 

Crawford: What drugs? 

Shepard: Well, you name it. Some were patented. Of course, in those 
days they would carry opium for broken legs. They had to do 
their own medications. 

Crawford: Opium as a pain-killer perhaps? 

Shepard: Yes, it was used commonly in those days. You didn t have to 
have a prescription to get it. That s what a lot of people 
don t understand, the use of those materials as basic 
medications. 



22 



The museum had to turn all the vials over because the kids 
would see what they were and say, "Oh, he was a hop head." 
[laughter] But Channian was always dressed immaculate. She 
was very clean. Her teeth. I think she had only one or two 
fillings when she died, and she showed with her smileyou see 
in her pictures a large mouth and perfect teeth, which she was 
very proud. She was proud of her hair too. You see the 
pictures shortly before she died. She s standing straight as 
can be. She was very concerned, caring enough not to carry any 
extra weight. She was always just about the right weight for 
her build. 

Crawford: She was tiny, wasn t she? 

Shepard: Yes, she was small, but she was strong. She was very strong. 
She was very athletic. She was a natural athlete. 

Crawford: She must have been a wonderful rider. 

Shepard: Oh, yes, she was a very good rider, and she was a rider who had 
no fear. I remember I was just a little kid down at the cow 
barn, the old cow barn, and I was with my father milking the 
cows and I heard her screaming. She had taken a horse down 
over the contours and she tried to jump this fence downhill, 
which is difficult. Anyway, the horse rolled over and she got 
injured. 

Crawford: How old was she then? 

Shepard: Oh, I d say she must have been in the early fifties or late 
forties. 

Crawford: How late in her life did she ride? 

Shepard: She rode all the way up toI think she stopped riding when I 
was in the service in 1944 or so. I think in 1945 she had 
another accident over at the House of Happy Walls, and they 
brought her back to the cottage, and I don t think she ever 
went back over to the House of Happy Walls. She was a strong 
woman, but she was goer as far as men were concerned. You have 
to realize she was an orphan. She stood on her own feet. She 
was raised by an aunt who believed in free sex and all that 
sort of thing. 

Crawford: That was Aunt Netta. Where was her resort? 

Shepard: That was Wake Robin Lodge. Wake Robin is right at the corner 
it would be the west, northwest corner of the Ranch. Part of 



23 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Wake Robin was attached to the Fish Ranch, and the other part 
was attached to the LaMotte place. 

Is it still standing? 

Yes, still standing there. They ve changed it an awful lot. 
Jack had a cottage there that Nakata lived in, and Jack did his 
writing there. That was called Jack s Cottage, but they ve 
changed that; it s not even recognizable. 

Wake Robin- -they ve changed it an awful lot. When I was a 
kid there were six or eight cabins, and these platforms for 
tent cabins. People would come up in the summer and spend the 
summer. Wake Robin had a big hexagon, which is left. I forget 
what year it was that Jack and Charmian put on what they called 
Jack s Annex. He built a set of rooms down below next to the 
basement. 

When I was a kid, why, Eliza was living there. She came up 
to the Ranch in 1939. Not 1939. She came up in 1934 and told 
Charmian she had to live in the House of Happy Walls. I think 
I told you the story about the House of Happy Walls. 

So Eliza came up and lived at Wake Robin and when she died, 
it went to my dad and it was sold in the 1940s or so. It was a 
big old rambling place and needed a lot of work, and it just 
wasn t worth putting money into it. 

Is it still part of the Ranch? 

No. 

Oh, so there s no public access. 

No public access, and they ve built a swimming pool and tennis 
court and changed the whole design. Privately owned. But it 
was never part of the Ranch. 

Netta Eames supposedly used two Ranch cottages there. She must 
have been quite a free spirit. 

Yes, she was a goer. You know, they had that group in San 
Francisco that was part of the culture of the city. Chaney and 
Bessie were members. Netta was one of the editors of the 
Overland Monthly, which was very prestigious. But they had all 
these different societies. 



24 



You talk about the freedom of the sixties in San Francisco, 
Haight Street. Hell, San Francisco in those daysthey were 
wilder than Haight Street. [laughter] 

Crawford: Yes. I just read Anna Strunsky s biography. 

Shepard: That s a good biography. I ve worked with the author Jay Wood 
on some of the stuff. I met Anna. She came out for the 
dedication of the park in the 1960s. What a sad life. 

Crawford: Tell me about her. 

Shepard: Jacqueline Tavernier [a London scholar] may bring the 

manuscript to me next month, when she s out here for the London 
symposium. She s done some wonderful work on Strunsky, and she 
claims that she was madly in love with Jack. 

We have some letters Jack wrote to Anna in 1902, and Anna-- 
from the letter, you can surmise that Anna is saying, "You 
plainly did not have a sexual relationship with your wife." 
And Jack London has written back, "You have to realize the 
gestation period is nine months. When I told you that, I was 
telling you the truth." 

She led a very sad life. But for her to come out for the 
dedication in 1960 she was just like Charmian: small but her 
skin was just beautiful. She was in her eighties but you 
wouldn t even know it. The twinkle in her eyethis is what 
Charmian had, this strength, inner strength, vivaciousness. 



Charmian and Milo Shepard 



Crawford: Was Charmian beautiful, in your eyes? 

Shepard: Oh, she was a beautiful woman, in her eighties. She had a 

beauty like George Sterling. You know, George Sterling there 
are pictures of him in profile and everything. You saw a 
Grecian or Roman face almost. They re beautiful lines. 

Crawford: I saw her clothing up in the museum and was impressed with the 
elegance. 

Shepard: Charmian s? 

Crawford: Charmian s, yes. The riding habits. 



25 



Shepard: Well, the riding habits. Jack London and Charmian didn t have 
many clothes. It was after Jack died that Charmian could spend 
her money. She had royalties from France and she had these 
dresses made there. She went to the opera and she stayed with 
--I can t remember what her name was--Lucy, the society or 
music editor for the Chronicle in those days, in the thirties. 
She used to stay with her during the opera season and symphony 
season. Charmian was quite a musician. 

Crawford: Was the concert grand in the large room at Happy Walls hers? 

Shepard: Yes. She was capable of being a concert pianist. She was that 
good. She opened those French doors upstairs and played that 
piano, and you could hear it all over the Ranch. 

She worked every day of her life. She was very proud. She 
typed 120 or 150 words a minute. Very proud of the speed she 
typed. She was very proud of the speedher capabilities, say, 
like horseback riding or fencing or boxing or--she would even 
shoot pistols. She outshot the crack shot of the army down in 
Arizona in 1915, I think it was. But men were she was never 
in competition with men. 

Crawford: She turned heads, I m sure. 

Shepard: Yes. She d walk in a room and people turned. Men turned. She 
was a woman whose aura- -men want to go over and they want to 
talk to her. And she could talk. But she didn t talk the way 
some of these women libbers are. She was not in competition, 
not trying to take a man s place. She was proud of being a 
woman and she felt that a woman should be able to do whatever 
she wanted. 



Eliza was the same way. In other words, they were never in 
competition with Jack or ever jealous of Jack. A lot of the 
stuff about Charmian just isn t true. We ll get into that 
later. 

Crawford: Did she notice you as a boy? Did she spend time with you? 

Shepard: Oh, yes. I used to ride by the hour with her. KPIX put on--I 
don t know if you can get a hold of it or not--"A House Is 
Burning"--and they showed a strip of Charmian and Eliza. It 
happens to be at Easter. It s in the garden of the cottage, 
and the kids are there, and I guess I was about six years old, 
and we re down there for the Easter holiday. 

We were her only family. I know I didn t realize that at 
the time, but she was Aunt Charmian. She was around, and there 



26 



was only one thing: you couldn t make noise down around the 
house there until after eleven or twelve o clock in the 
morning, because she would work at night sometimes or go out 
and then she would sleep late. 

Crawford: Which house was that? 

Shepard: The cottage. She lived there until 1934. 

Crawford: And that s when she moved over to Happy Walls. 

Shepard: To Happy Walls. Then I d take a horse over there and ride a 

horse over and lead another one, and I d go riding with her at 
that time. 

Crawford: What horses did you have? 

Shepard: Oh, we had over forty horses on the Ranch; more than that in 

1910. I rode some of the horses that were thirty, thirty-five 
years old. Guy Dillon, the son of Lou Dillon, who was world 
champion trotter, lived there, and there was Hilo, who was a 
half-brother. He was born in 1910, and Jack said, "Call him 
Hilo after the town on the Big Island of Hawaii." 

The horses were were mainly standardbreds and 
thoroughbreds. They bought horses all over the United States 
to upgrade the animals for the Ranch program. 

Crawford: I like the story about Charmian going to buy a horse in 

Berkeley, I think, for Jack London when she was younger. She 
rode it all the way back up here from Berkeley, which is one 
long ride. 

Shepard: Well, it is and it isn t. Look at the four-horse trip they 
took. All the way up into Oregon and across and all the way 
down the Sacramento Valley. It took them six months, but it 
would take you a couple of days to drive that today. 

Crawford: They had a carriage with four horses? 

Shepard: Well, they had what they call a trap, yes. My grandfather re- 
rigged it, the springing of it. It was a Studebaker, made by 
Studebaker. Two-seater. In the back seat they always carried 
Nakata. They always had a houseboy with them. 

Even after Jack London died, Charmian never had a servant, 
but my mother sort of took care of that, or Eliza did and my 
mother didin other words, having the house cleaned. Charmian 
never had a charge account--! don t remember Charmian having 



27 



one or I guess at the local store she didbut if she wanted to 
buy something, why, my father gave her some money. 

Crawford: She wasn t independent in that way. 

Shepard: No, she wasn t. No, definitely not. You read some of the 

biographies, some of them, like Taylor and Stone, and she was 
very gullible. They actually courted her. You can see in the 
correspondence. It makes you sick to read it. 

Crawford: Took advantage. 



Charmian and Jack and Charmian s Diaries 



Shepard: Yes. She in a sense was like Jack London. Stone had written 
well, I ll get into it laterbut she would hear about someone 
or something, and if it was a good recommendation, she accepted 
it, and she accepted it 100 percent, as Jack London did. 

Then later things would happen, such as accepting Captain 
Eames, Netta s husband, as captain of the Snark. Hell, he 
couldn t even navigate. [laughter] But here he was, a 
captain. They thought he was a sea captain. 

Crawford: They were kind of innocents. 

Shepard: Well, they were trusting. In other words, they didn t have 
time to sit and think, and this is where Netta got things 
screwed up. When Eliza came to the Ranch, Eliza straightened 
all this out as far as Jack London was concerned. Eliza kept 
everything, you know, on its feet. Eliza would step in at 
times to say, "Hey, don t have anything to do with this man." 
However, Eliza gave Charmian all the rein that she could want, 
but occasionally Eliza had to step in because these men were 
stealing from her. 

But Eliza was a very kind person. She d give the shirt off 
her back if you needed it, but if you ever crossed her or you 
would lie to her, she wouldn t have a thing to do with you, 
while Charmian would continue on. 

Crawford: You said in your conversation with Waring Jones that Charmian 
never talked badly about anyone. 

Shepard: No. That s one of the problems of people reading Charmian s 
diaries, is the fact she used that to get rid of her tensions 



28 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford; 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



and her thoughts and her anger through her diary. But she 
would never say anything bad about anyone. She was not a 
gossip. 

So when you read her diaries and what she said, this is 
what she felt just at that second. A lot of hurt. You see, 
when you read Charmian s diary--! let one fellow read it who is 
writing a biography of Charmian, and he came up to me: "Milo, 
I d like to sock Jack London right in the nose, the way he 
treated her." 

I explained to him that yes, Jack London was a difficult 
man. Eliza was the only one that could really handle him and 
not become emotionally involved with Jack. 

How was he with Charmian? 

Well, he d be up, but then he went down, and his depressions 

he was just difficult to live with. It was just terrible for 
anyone to be around the man. He d put blame on people. Eliza 
was strong enough to handle this, but Charmian would never say 
anything, but in her diaries this shows up. 

She doesn t say very much that can be taken as negative in her 
biography about their relationship. 1 

Oh, no. Well, her biographyshe tried to write her biography 
as she and Jack lived. A lot of biographers, until the letters 
were released, didn t realize, and I think I talked a little 
bit about this last time, the life that those two people lived 
together. They put in a lot of themselves. They tried to put 
in things that weren t in there. 

What do you think of Charmian s book? 

Charmian actually lived with Jack that way. Their love 
letters, their feelings, the way they worked togetherthat s 
the way they lived. But to put it down on paper, it didn t 
come off. [That was why] she did not have an index, or 
references. And she did take a lot of literary license. She 
took some of the letters out of context. 



Crawford: 



Her journals are at the Huntington Library, 
restricted? 



Are those 



The Book of Jack London (New York: The Century Company, 1921). 



29 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Yes. We allow people into the Huntington to see everything 
except the diaries, the Stone s, the Taylor s files; there s a 
few files that are restricted. But most of the finer scholars 
I let in now to see them. I ve never allowed anyone to quote 
from the diaries. 

Earle Labor asked me about quoting them in the book he s 
writing. "Earle," I said, "I just can t do it." "My God, 
man," he said, "you ve got to let me use those quotes." He 
said, "I can t paraphrase this material." And he said, "It s 



so important . " 
biography. 



He s going to write a very definitive 



That s what he told me. He s been working on it for many, many 
years, ever since his Ph.D. thesis on Jack London. 

Yes, he used Irving Stone s biography as a reference in his 
Ph.D. I always give him the business a little bit about 
Stone s Sailor on Horseback. 

Did you finally give him permission to quote from the diaries? 

Yes. He said, "This will put Charmian into the light and prove 
that she is not a airhead," as some biographers have done. He 
said, "You read those lines in the diaries. She s a very 
educated woman to be able to write that way." He said, "That s 
why it s important that they re quoted, that I just don t 
paraphrase them." 



Good point. 
Misquotes? 



But what are you afraid of in having them quoted? 



No. Well, yes. It s not misquotes; it s people that like to 
put down such things as "they had a lolly," which means they 
had a sexual relationship. 

What was the word you used? 

Lolly. And it was maybe a double lolly. Someone can add those 
all up and write a god-darn book. The junk that s writtenand 
as I said before, mainly it is that that is a personal diary 
and very extensive. Now she destroyed two years of it. 

I was going to ask you about those years; I think it was 1902 
and 1903. Why? 

Because this was the time that she was going with Jack and it 
was the time of the breakup of his marriage, 1903 and 1904. 



30 



Crawford: What about the breakup of the marriage? 

Shepard: Well, that s the only place I fault Charmian, is that she 
wasn t honest with Bessie. Bessie was a good friend of 
Charmian s, and she didn t know [about them]--she put Anna 
Strunsky down as the other woman. 

Crawford: She named Anna Strunsky. That s remarkable, that she didn t 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 



know Charmian and Jack were involved, 
book, "I think Bessie is deceitful." 



Yet Charmian said in her 



Well, Russ Kingman said Bessie was an compulsive liar, and she 
was. I don t want to get into it because I m getting it 
second-hand, but you read some of the letters, like Eliza s 
after Jack s death, saying that Willard Growell and Eliza were 
the executors and stating that "we don t want Charmian and 
Bessie ever to get together because nothing can be 
accomplished. We have to handle this." It was left up to 
Eliza to handle all that, not Charmian. 

If you have access to the letters, those Eliza letters 
would give you a lot of good information. 



Crawford: Yes. 
Shepard: 



But getting back to Charmian--you know, she was at all the 
Christmases and birthdays. I ve got books here she gave me. 
Every birthday and every Christmas she d give us a book. One 
when I graduated from eighth grade, the Webster dictionaries 
and others. I gave some of that to Centenary College. 

For instance, when they traveled they had cards, postcards 
they d have made, and here would be a shark or something in the 
Hawaiian Islands, and they d send that to my father. "Dear 
Irving, here s your funny uncle" or something like that. 

Oh, those are treasures! Where are those? 
They re down at Centenary. 
Where Earle lives. 

Earle lives there, yes. One of the rangers that first came in 
asked to see the diaries, which we had not yet taken out. They 
were in the safe over there at the House of Happy Walls, the 
one that Stone got into. 



Anyway, he asked if he could glance through them, and my 
dad said yes, and he said, "I didn t realize how close the 



31 



Shepards were to the Londons." In other words, she covered 
that in her diaries, that we lived on the Ranch together. 

Crawford: Your family. 

Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: Did you have Sunday suppers together or anything like that? 

Shepard: Well, she used to come over to the guest ranch whenever she 
felt like it. She was gone a lot, but she was here an awful 
lot, a lot more than when Jack was alive. You know, she d go 
to Europe for six months or two years, and she was in Germany 
in 1939 when Hitler marched on Poland. Dad got her into 
Denmark, and she got home from there. 

She was still writing then. She was in San Francisco 
society. She was on "We, the People." In 1939, when she came 
back to New York, Eliza had died and Dad said, "Don t come 
home. You won t get here fast enough for the funeral." But 
she did and she was on a radio program called "We, the People," 
a pretty prestigious radio program. 

Crawford: Who moderated that? Do you remember? 

Shepard: I don t remember. That was in 1939. She was wined and dined 

for being the widow of Jack London. She also took care of some 
of the copyrights. She had a terrific correspondence with 
people all over the world. 

Crawford: Who produced that correspondence? She typed it herself? 

Shepard: She typed it herself. 

Crawford: Is that her typewriter in the museum? 

Shepard: Those are Jack s. Those are Jack s. I ve got her last one 
here. 



Shepard: That last letter he typed after Charmian arrived is Just 
mistakes and typeovers, and he didn t type after that. 

Crawford: She did everything for him. 
Shepard: She did all his stuff. 



32 



Crawford: He wrote a thousand words and she religiously typed them for 
him each day? 

Shepard: Well, it wasn t a thousand words; the minimum was a thousand. 
When he got on something, he d stay on it. He didn t just 
write a thousand words and say that was it. 



Life on the Ranch; Guests and Workers 



Crawford: After he died and when you knew her, how did she spend her 
days? 

Shepard: Well, her days--I d say just a normal dayshe usually got up 
late in the morning, and she d do correspondence, and we d go 
horseback riding in the morning at eleven or twelve, and then 
she d have people come and visit. 

I know of two instances where people just happened to be 
walking around her house over there in Glen Ellen. She heard 
them, and they were children of Italians who worked on the 
Ranch, and she s very proud of that house, and so she would 
invite them in and give them food. 

The house was a very livable, beautiful home. Today of 
course it s a museum, with all the Persian rugs and stuff. 
Polar bears with the head still on. Lots has been stolen. 

Crawford: Who was taking these things? 

Shepard: Well, people robbed the place; state people came. The rangers 
probably got things before it was open to the public, and all 
the state people from Sacramento coming over and looking at it. 
Finally they only let in two at a time. All these little 
things you see herethey were all over the place. Those cups 
are Japanese and Korean. 

Crawford: What are we looking at here? 
Shepard: That s an eggshell cup. 
Crawford: It seems almost transparent. 

Shepard: Those he picked up in Japan. It gives you an idea what the man 
is. There are some snuff jars and opium jars. Up in the upper 
shelf there. Regardless where he went, he picked fine things. 



; 



Crawford: There are a good number of Native American things. 

Shepard: Well, those the good ones I ve given to my children. They are 
really collectors items. They re from Zunis and others. 

Crawford: All from his travels? 

Shepard: Some from his travels and some from Charmian s. Then there was 
an enormous shell collection, and that s one of the shells he 
brought back, that conch shell. Isn t it a beauty? 

Crawford: And all kinds of knives. 
Shepard: No, those are my collection. 

Crawford: Those are your collection. How about this model of a Chinese 
junk? 

Shepard: Well, that s 150 years old. It belonged to the father of the 
secretary to Earl Warren, and it was picked up in the 1800s. 
That s a set of books from his library up on top. 

Crawford: He liked Tennyson. 

Shepard: He has collections of everyone. Jack s library was about 

15,000 books, and that collection is at Huntington Library. 
Charmian s library was about 25,000 books, and that s at Utah 
State. 

Crawford: We ll talk about those collections at some point later on. 

Shepard: This was given to my parents by the hundredth ranking officer 
in the Royal Dutch Navy, Max Viteland. He s the first man to 
go around the world in a submarine. He was a lieutenant 
commander. He was the hundredth ranking officer. So it shows 
you how large the Dutch Navy was . 

He was in Java during World War II. He d take a submarine 
and rescue women and people and bring them to San Francisco, 
and then they stayed at the Ranch until they got on their feet. 
There was a doctor here that was tortured and everything, put 
through everything by the Japanese, and Max married one named 
Monica. A beautiful woman, but you could always tell something 
was wrong. When she died when she was about, I guess, forty- 
five, and Max phoned me up to tell me and he was crying. 

Crawford: What happened to her? 

Shepard: Well, [voice breaks]. Excuse me. 



Crawford: Take a pause here, 
[tape interruption] 

Shepard: She didn t have a chance. [pause] He said, "I tried to do as 
much as I could for her, but she never got over her 
experiences." 

Crawford: Did many come to live here? 

Shepard: Yes, most of them were Dutch colonists. They were Dutch 

business people. The men were murdered and the wives were 
raped and thrown into camps. Just horrible things happened. 

Crawford: Let s talk about some of the other things. I see something 

that was signed to Jack and to Charmian. We re talking about a 
picture. 1 guess it s a lithograph, is it? Or is it a 
painting? 

Shepard: No, it is an original that was on the front cover of 

Cosmopolitan magazine when Galley of the Moon was first 
published. It was serialized in Cosmopolitan. It s done by 
Harrison Fisher, a magazine illustrator, and he has autographed 
it to the Londons . 

Crawford: It looks like them as I imagine them. 

Shepard: Well, they were the two main characters in the novel. 

Crawford: Saxon and her husband? 

Shepard: Well, some say Saxon was Charmian. You know, that s up for 
grabs. London used a lot of names and a lot of people and a 
lot of ideas. 

Crawford: In the copy I read of Valley of the Moon, Russ Kingman wrote in 
the introduction that Clara Hastings was Charmian. She was up 
here on the Ranch while Saxon and Billy were traveling around, 
trying to find the Valley of the Moon. 

Shepard: It s just a guess. In The Iron Heel he s using Ernest 

Everhard, who was Charmian s cousin, and other things are 
factual, like in The Burning Daylight, the eucalyptus trees and 
the barn are on the lower part of the Ranch, and in The Iron 
Heel, the caves on the mountain where Everhard and those people 
hid are up on Sonoma Mountain. But he used a lot of literary 
license, I guess is what you d say. 



35 



Crawford: Yes. And he probably never attached real personages to his 
fictional characters. 

Shepard: No. No, no. These are novels. Even taking Martin Eden as 

purely autobiographical is incorrect. This is where a lot of- 
well, a lot about London s death and supposed suicide comes 
from Martin Eden. 



George Sterlingthe first thing he said when he heard of 
Jack s death was: "My God, he committed suicide." 

Crawford: Because he assumed that after Martin Eden 

Shepard: No, these men talkedtimes were so different. In other words, 
you didn t have the radio, you didn t have the TV, you created 
your own enjoyment in your spare time. My father and mother 
told me once that my father did, rather they were having a 
discussion after dinner about whether medicine could improve 
enough that they could inoculate a fetus and a baby could be 
born and could be talking. They went way out on all sorts of 
things that were discussed and philosophized upon. You see 
this in their correspondence, the correspondence between Jack 
and the postmaster. That had slipped my mind. 

It s a wonderful correspondence. Some of those letters are 
ten pages long. Discussing their philosophies and various 
things, and in depth. Well, this is what they did. They 
didn t just sit and watch television, because it wasn t there. 
So they were active all the time. 

I know I was raised in that way. We used to read to each 
other. I gave a book to the Huntington Library I had in my 
dad s collection. I m trying to think who was on the boat with 
Jack, but they were sailing up in the Delta, on the river. I 
can t remember who it was. But anyway, written on the side in 
his handwriting was "Possum has jumped up in my lap." That was 
the little fox terrier. They always had a dog with them. That 
tells you something about them. Peggy on the Snark and Possum 
on the Roamer. They always had their animal with them, their 
dogs. 

Crawford: Usually terriers, I guess, little terriers? 

Shepard: Yes, they re terrier types. So anyway, later on [this voyage], 
why, in Jack s handwriting was "I ve stopped here and Henry" 
or whatever his name was --"has continued to read on." The book 
was Victory, by Conrad. It was one of Joseph Conrad s books. 
They read good material. 



36 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



As I ve said, I was read to by Tommy Byrne, who Eliza 
raised. She was just a young girl, she was born in 1910. She 
was Eliza s sister s girl. And Jack Byrne was London s 
secretary in 1915, but he was drinking pretty heavy and I don t 
know whether they let him go finally. I don t know whatever 
happened to him. I know that Ida, Tommy s mother, died. Tommy 
was about fifteen years old when I remember her. 

Who else was here a lot? 

Oh, God. Eliza hadyou have to realize, this was the 
Depression years and there wasn t work. She got work for 
people through politics, through every which way. We had all 
these aunts and uncles. I mean, you never called people by 
their first names in those days if you were a kid. 

The Jurgewitz familyBessie Jurgewitz--was a Shepard, 
Eliza s stepdaughter, and their family. She had two boys. She 
got them work here at this little state hospital. There were 
so many people. Their father was what they called a cement 
craftsman, Fred Jurgewitz. On the old Fox Theatre in San 
Francisco, I think it was, he did all the cement, fancy 
scrollwork. 

It is a beautiful theater. 

They called him back after World War II--he was an old man 
then- -to do some repair work. He knew how to mix cement so 
they could create all these things. That was all done by hand. 
No mold or anything. 



He did a plaque 



And we had Finn Frolich here. Old Finn, 
of us kids, four kids, a bas relief. 

Where is that? 



I don t know where it is. I had one. I think someone took 
mine. But there s one over in the museum and my sisters have 
them. But anyway, he put a little bee up there because we 
wouldn t sit still. 



Crawford: Busy as a bee? 

Shepard: Yes. No, we were bad. The bee was there to sting us! 

[laughter] But you know, these are people that stayed. There 
was Walter Bunnell. He was a chiropractor but he was also a 
horseman, and he lived on the Ranch for years. He came in 
1919, right after London died, two years after, and stayed and 
then left and then came back the day I was born, 1925. And 



J7 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



then he came back and worked on the Ranch, with the horses, in 
1934, or 33 I guess it started, 34. 

How many workers were there, how many laborers? 

We always had a couple of men, outside men, and a couple of 
horsemen. These four. And then there were whole bunches of 
woodcutters that worked on a share basis. In other words, 
they d come up and Eliza would feed them for a couple of days, 
and if they didn t work- -probably three days and she d tell 
them, "Either you go to work or put your mark on some other 
place." They d leave. 

Where were they from? 

They were just people out of work. They were from all over. 
In those days there were an awful lot of people who knew Jack 
London, and you could always tell if they knew Jack London just 
the way they talked. I can remember, after World War II, this 
old man came, asking for a job, and my dad said, "Okay." 

He said, "You know, I knew Jack London up in the Klondike." 
Which--God, how many people say they knew Jack London 
somewhere. My dad just asked him a couple of questions. He 
answered the questions, not that he was quizzing him, but the 
man expanded on them. This is the way he could tell if they 
were telling the truth, and if he did know Jack London in the 
Klondike. 

But he had a bad time, so he got a job as a janitor. He 
was seventy-some-odd years old, and he got a job as a janitor 
up at the Santa Rosa J. C. and had to have food for a couple of 
days. Dad called the J. C., knowing people up there, and he 
was told "Yes, we hired him. We felt sorry for him." But he 
was a mining engineer, and he had lost everything. 

In the Klondike? 

No, after, during the Depression. He was just a young fellow 
up in the Klondike. But in other words, I was always around a 
lot of people. 

The Ranch had a lot of families, a lot of people. 

Yes. It was one just large family. There were turnovers, 
usually in the sense of someonewell in World War II, all 
these younger fellows were drafted, because they could get a 
better job or something. They were paid thirty dollars a month 
and room and board. 



38 



Crawford: How was the Ranch run? I assume Eliza ran it until she died in 
39. 

Shepard: No, she ran it until about 1935 or 36; then my dad took over. 
Eliza became a diabetic and became very sick. 

Crawford: Oh, she died of diabetes? 

Shepard: Yes. She wouldn t take care of herself. And the needles they 
used. Dad would give her a shot because she wouldn t take them 
on her own. 



Crawford: So your dad treated her. 

Shepard: Yes. Well, we had a good medical doctor, but we didn t have a 
doctor and nurse to stick her. In fact, the doctor that took 
care of her in the valley--he was a Stanford graduate. He came 
into the valley and brought good medicine into the valley. 

He was very active there and he said he didn t want to be 
paid. He would like a set of first editions, so my dad got him 
not all the first editions some were difficult to findbut he 
got him the books. I guess maybe four years ago his wife died. 
The daughter asked me what to do with the books. She wanted to 
sell them and got in contact with a couple of bookstores. 

Crawford: Did they bring a good price? 

Shepard: Well, those didn t. They had been used so much and everything. 
It depends on what you want to call a good price. A set of 
first editions can go from, say, twenty-some-odd thousand to a 
hundred-and-some-odd thousand. 

Then the autographed ones Pacif ic had been after me 
several times to see if I might want to sell them. The auction 
company. They said, "I can get you fifteen thousand a book." 
So much money. [laughter] 

Crawford: Have you sold any? 
Shepard: No. 

Crawford: Well, after Eliza s death your father ran the Ranch. Until his 
death? 

Shepard: Yes. Until his death. Well, I sort of stepped in. 

Crawford: You stepped in. So Charmian really never managed the Ranch at 
all. 



39 



Shepard: Oh, Charmian never managed the Ranch. No, no. No, after World 
War II my brother and I started the dairy, and we closed down 
the guest ranch. We operated as a ranch. 

Crawford: Before we move on, I thought I d just ask you about this 

delightful cartoon or drawing. You told me last week a little 
bit about it. 

Shepard: It s by Xavier Martinez, who married Herman Whitaker s 

daughter. He was part of the crowd, and it s about a lot of 
fun things done around the Ranch. I think I mentioned some the 
last time. Blowing smoke bubbles. Who could blow the biggest 
soap bubble and blow smoke into one. Different things. Just 
playing around. And so that s Whitaker, the artist. London 
for socialism, and Whitaker--let s see what he s got written on 
Whitaker. 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



I ll have a look, 
art." 



Romance. It says, "romance, socialism, and 



That s right. I gave Earle Labor one of these. He went and 
had it refrained. When he reframed it, here was a picture on 
the other side, of Martinez 1 mother. There s also a picture of 
Martinez painting Jack at the cottage. 



Who did he draw for, Martinez? 

I don t know who he drew for. 
Jorgensen. He drew and sold. 



He was just sort of like 



Jack London s Daughters Joan and Becky and the London Estate 



Crawford: That s pretty early, 1906. Well, I meant to ask you a couple 
of questions about Joan London s book. 2 She mentions Charmian 
very little. This book was published by Doubleday, 1939, after 
it was known she would not inherit. 

Shepard: That was part of the hatred. The book is considered a very 
good book as far as London s socialism. Joan was a card- 
carrying Communist. She was interested in socialism; her 
father s socialism, so she did a very good job on that, 
according to the critics. This just isn t my opinion. 



2 Jack London and His Times. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1939. 



In those days they used to have these book tours around in 
various towns and sell the books and autograph them. But 
people wouldn t listen to what she had to say about her father; 
it was so derogatory, and about the family and everything. 

Crawford: London wrote that she neglected him, didn t he? 

Shepard: Yes. Well, I don t want to get into that. Professionals are 

still working on it. I will show you the hatred that s on that 
other side, and heck, we re three generations away. 

Crawford: The hatred was based on the fact that they didn t inherit. 

Shepard: Because they felt they should have received everything because 
they are the daughters. That hatred is today! Her great 
grandchildrenher grandchildren are just all upset, even 
today. 

Jack London s will was looked at carefully by Becky and 
Joan and their husbands when Jack died. It wasn t until Joan 
sold the materials to Waring Jones and after her death that her 
son Bart Abbott wrote me saying that there was another will. 
Holmes Books had a contract with Joan and handled Joan s 
material, and they misdated one will in the inventory, 1911 and 
1916 I thinkand one of those they misdated. 

Crawford: So they thought there was a second will. 

Shepard: Yes. My attorney wrote him about the statute of limitations, 
and said that if he continued along those lines, it would lead 
to a harassment suit. I never heard from him again. 

Crawford: Eliza was still alive when this book was published. 

Shepard: That s right. 

Crawford: But Joan wasn t made part of this whole setup. Is that why? 

Shepard: Yes. The hatred and the problems that occurred with the 

settlement of London s estate back in 1916. Charmian was left 
everything. The girls were given--! forget what it was, a 
hundred and twenty dollars a month or something until they got 
married--! "m not sure of that figure. 

But they were given a house. They weren t disinherited. 
In fact, Bessie disinherited themcaused them to be separated 
when Jack London divorced her. In other words, in this [Stone 
book) there s something about their coming up to the Ranch and 
having Charmian ride by with a horse and covering them with 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 

Shepard: 
Crawford: 



dust- -that s not Charmian. I just can t see that. I think she 
may have ridden by and they turned their backs to her. 



Jack wanted them here, didn t he? 
live up here. 



He wanted the children to 



Yes. They came up, to look, but no way would Bessie ever allow 
it. But they turned their backs on Charmian, and Charmian came 
back, and she said, "They ought to have the decency to at least 
say hello" or something. I forget exactly how it occurred. 
Charmian said, "You are my guests. This is my ranch." But 
Joan London Abbott said, "Well, this is Jack London s ranch; 
it s not your ranch." 

But the thing was, it was Charmian s ranch. It wasn t Jack 
London s ranch. Because of the divorce and all the problems, 
everything was put in Charmian s name. 

Joan London did say in her book that Charmian was given credit 
that was undeserved, and undeserved blame. 

That s a cop-out. Isn t that cop-out? 

I don t know what it means. What would be the undeserved 
credit? 



Shepard: The only thing I can say is Charmian got a lot of credit for-- 
and there s a lot of hatred about it even among his crowdwas 
that she kept Jack away from liquor. She kept Jack s nose to 
the grindstone. 

Crawford: Was Charmian a jealous person? 

Shepard: No. No, no, no. Charmian wasn t jealous. You know, what the 
devil is his name? University of Texas. Dale Walker. He had 
quite a correspondence with Joan while she was still alive, and 
there was this Jack London professor at University of Southern 
Illinois in Carbondale who had a booklet he made for the Jack 
London Society or something, and he wanted to publish these 
letters, and he wrote to me, and I read the letters, and I 
said, "Well, I can t give you permission. It has to be done by 
Joan s son. I don t have the right. 

"But," I said, "I will tell you that Joan is lying to you." 
He said, "In one of the letters that she wrote to me, she said, 
I could have done a much better job on my book if I had been 
allowed access to the Huntington Library and access to the 
London materials. " 






Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



ft 

There are letters at the Huntington from Charmian [to Joan] to 
pick up material to bring it back. Charraian was working on the 
cruise of the Dirigo, where they went from Baltimore on a 
sailing ship around to Cape Horn, up to Seattle. They did that 
in 1912. Charmian may be the only woman to ever sail before 
the mast around Cape Horn. Jack sailed as third mate and 
Charmian as stewardess. And then the captain died, so Charmian 
kept the log when they sailed. It was a three-masted sailing 
ship. 

So anyway, the letters plus; you just have to go to the 
Huntington Library, I told him, and ask them, and they ll show 
you the number of times she logged in for access to the 
materials at the Huntington Library. 

Hensley Woodbridge was the professor. Published the 
letters, and he just made an asterisk at the bottom, stating 
that Milo Shepard said that Joan was incorrect, that she did 
have access to the Huntington. Well, he didn t back up my 
statement by having a statement included from the Huntington, 
so it sounds like sour grapes as far as I was concerned. 
That s the trouble. You can t win on something like that. 



But Joan was at Charmian s funeral. 
Becky never showed up. 



She was the only one . 



Joan was the only family who came, 
anything? 



Becky didn t write 



Becky didn t do anything. I think it s in here where she said 
something to the effect that Joan wrote the second book, and 
her son finished it and it was published. University of 
Washington was going to publish it, and then--l don t 
understand what happened. Waring Jones wouldn t let him have 
information or something, and then this big hullabaloo. 



Waring Jones Collection 



Crawford: What was the information Waring Jones would have had? 

Shepard: He bought all of Joan s letters and all the stuff. Well, why 
in the devil didn t they make copies of them? He has the 
holographhe gave it to us to have published. 



Crawford: In the letters. 

Shepard: In the letters. So I don t know what happened. Well, he 

didn t like what Joan had written in the book or something. 
Sour grapes. 

Crawford: Waring Jones. What was his initial contact with the family? 

Shepard: Waring Jones initial contact was with his future wife, coming 
up to the Ranch before the state got it, and my dad meeting him 
and talking to him. Waring Jones knew a lot of people. His 
family owned a newspaper in St. Paul, Minneapolis, old money, 
and big money. Now he s taking out this librarian over here in 
Sonoma State. [laughter] 

Crawford: Is that Clarice? 

Shepard: No, no, no. No, no. This woman, Sandra, at Sonoma State. He 
is taking out. Hell, Waring 1 s seventy-four years old, and his 
wife lives next door to him, has a house next door, and they re 
separated. She sits on the board of Weyerhauser. It s old, 
big money. That s where Waring comes in. 

Crawford: He bought Joan s letters. 

Shepard: Yes. His grandfather bought famous collections, so the family 
owns massive amounts of material. Waring asked me, and I said, 
"A lot of it is just copies, or they re artifacts, but the 
holograph letters and those things should be in some library." 
I tried to get him to accept that, because the content of the 
letters is out. It s only the idea of having the original. 

I suggested Centenary, because it would be climate- 
controlled and like any other library. He didn t feel like it, 
but then, when he met this woman over here in Sonoma State and 
Charles Schultz gave them a couple of million dollars for a new 
building, why, all of sudden Waring gets all excited. He gets 
a bunch of funding to buy Carl Bernatovich s collection. I 
don t know what they paid for it, but it was a set of first 
editions and a lot of letters, a lot of personal things. 

Crawford: Which collection is it? 



Shepard: 



Complete set of first appearances. Carl Bernatovech was a 
funny man. A bachelor his whole life. He was a heavy 
equipment operator from, I think, Pennsylvania or New Jersey. 
And he started collecting. These collectorsof anything- -they 
just go nuts. They can t get enough of it. 



44 



Crawford; 



Shepard: 



Returning for a moment to Joan; she said something surprising- 
she said she thought that Charmian had little influence on Jack 
London. 

Well, I d say she had a terrific amount of influence on Jack 
London. Not only social influence, because Jack London could 
take her anywhere, and then she could hold herself up anywhere, 
from royalty on down, any social situation, but also London had 
a problem with writing descriptions, say, of the valley or, I 
don t know if I m explaining it correctly--! can t think of the 
wordbut anyway, describing trees and using the correct 
adjectives and tying things together. In The Valley of the 
Moon, Charmian did a lot of work on that. Some of the scholars 
have picked out places where Charmian assisted. 

You look at the typescripts. Charmian typed from the 
holograph, and then she made corrections and then gave them to 
Jack. Jack would not allow an editor to work on his work. And 
then it was sent in to be published. You can see where she s 
changed things so they were a little smoother. Not really 
edited. I ve seen what an editor can do to a manuscript! 

The only thing I can say is, from what I ve seen and 
understood from listening to her and Eliza and everything, they 
were what they called each other. They were mates. That s the 
best description for the two of them. And yes, they had their 
ups and downs, and people picked things out of context or they 
picked certain things- 



Crawford: 



He called her "Mate." 
him "Wolf"? 



Is that the reference? And she called 



Shepard: Well, she called him "Mate Man," too. 

Crawford: Joan concedes that it was the real thing for him. 

Shepard: London had a desire his whole life, and Andrew Sinclair tried 
to pick up on it, but he couldn t do it--it was never 
fulfilled. All these artifacts, all this Huntington stuff, all 
the material that s needed. This does not take away from the 
man. I spent hours talking with Andrew Sinclair, would kick 
things back and forth. I think I may have mentioned this 
earlier, Jack writing a letter to Mabel Applegarth, saying, "I 
haven t had a decent meal for weeks," and here is Eliza writing 
to her brother, saying that Jack was along last night and had a 
big steak dinner. 

He actually felt this. That s why he was so high and he 
was so low. You know, he was a driver. When you read his 



works, you get that impression, and this is why, I guess, he s 
been so successful, other than the technical part of writing. 
London possibly- -no one s really added them up- -coined more new 
words than any other author at that time. 

Crawford: That s very interesting. Can you think of some? 

Shepard: Not off hand. My father said in his stories there are a lot of 
new words. They re almost like contractions. He uses a lot of 
that in his writings. Earle Labor could tell you probably more 
on that, being a scholar. I m not a scholar. 

Crawford: Yes, I m sure that probably is in his biography, but I didn t 
see it. 

We were talking about Valley of the Moon, and I wanted to 
ask you about the Kingmans, just in passing, because I know 
Winnie Kingman is here in the Valley of the Moon running the 
London bookstore. Does that family go way back? 

Shepard: They moved here in the 1970s and opened a small bookstore. 

Russ wrote a good biography of Jack London, a good chronology. 
That s all he spent his time on, and he allowed scholars to use 
this free of charge. Waring Jones bought it. Winnie ran the 
bookstore. After he died, she continued assisting people. It 
was Russ who founded the Jack London Foundation and started the 
tradition of the annual banquet. 



More about Jack and Charmian 



Crawford: I want to ask you some questions about Charmian s book, 
published in 1921 in two volumes. 

Shepard: Let me tell you something about Charmian s book. It was 

translated by a German university into German. And about three 
months ago I gave it to this German lady I hike with. She 
said, "This book should be translated into English. It is a 
beautiful book." She said, "It s in high German." I asked 
her, "What do you mean by high German?" "Well," she said, "the 
words have many beautiful meanings." She said, "It s a 
beautiful language. You can create the vision from the way 
it s written." 

So anyway, I thought about it, because you said you read 
Charmian s biography, which is sort of fractionalized a little 



bit. It doesn t flow smoothly. But translated into another 
language it apparently does. [laughter] 

Crawford: That s good. Do you have a copy of that? 
Shepard: No, I ve given it to her. 

Crawford: The volume that I read in The Bancroft Library is not a volume 
that may be taken out or circulated, but I noticed that 
Charmian signed it over to Blanche Partington. 

Shepard: Part of it, yes. 

Crawford: --saying, "This is shockingly frank. I m sacrificing myself 
along with the rest." 

Shepard: Well, what can I say? There s been so much written about Jack 
London and his women. 

Crawford: She was one of them, Blanche? 

Shepard: Yes, Blanche was one. And Charmian made very good friends of 
Jack s women. 

Crawford: That s a good case for proving she was not jealous. 

Shepard: Yes. She told Blanche, "I ve had it. If you think you can 
take him away from me, why, go ahead." 

Crawford: So there were infidelities. 

Shepard: I don t think they were infidelities after Jack married 

Charmian. I don t think so. One time in New York, there was a 
woman, an actress in New York, and then Charmian received a 
telegram with no name on it that Jack London was running around 
with another gal. 

You see, Jack London s time together with Charmian is so 
documented. That was about the only time that Jack London was 
away from Charmian. The woman happened to be a sixteen-year- 
old girl from the Baldwin family on Maui. And Jack London was 
just taking her to dinner, but whatever he did, he was 
newsworthy. You go to the Huntington Library and look at those 



large scrapbooks of all these articles about Jack London, 
just amazing. 



It s 



He s been accused I don t know how many times of fathering 
children. It was impossible to know where Jack London was at 
that time. The last one was up in Seattle here, some woman 



said that Jack London was her father. No, he could have done 
that when he was single. He stepped out with Charmian when he 
was married to Bess. But after they were married, I doubt it. 
And Charmian didn t, either. She had affairs after London 
died. 

Crawford: Who were these people? 
Shepard: Houdini was one, the magician. 
Crawford: He came here? 

Shepard: I don t think so, but this was before I was born, so I don t 

know. But all I know is that Clarice Stasz mentions it in her 
book, and the scholars have found out about it, from her 
correspondence. Harvey Taylor is probably another one. I know 
some of the Norwegians. Those are the only ones I know. But, 
you know, Charmian was an active woman. I m sure she had 
affairs. 

Crawford: She was young when he died. She was forty-five or so? 

Shepard: Yes, and she was very sexually active her whole life, up to her 
death. So I m surethese trips and visiting people in Europe 
she probably had relationships. But she was very careful here. 

Crawford: Yes. She says here, in her book, "I sat at his feet and 

endeavored to come up to his standard of companionship, which 
he had missed even among men." 

Shepard: This is all from Charmian? Read that one again. 

Crawford: "I sat at his feet and endeavored to come up to his standard of 
companionship, which he had missed even among men." 

Shepard: Yes. I think what she s saying there is what Jack has written. 
It s sort of semi-autobiographical. In other words, his only 
companion and the closest person to him was Eliza, and when 
Eliza got married, she was sixteen, so Jack would be nine, and 
he took that very hard, very, very hard. From that point on-- 
he writes in a way you think that there were long periods of 
time when he knew hardship; it was maybe three months. On the 
fish patrol was maybe six months or less. Working in a cannery 
was a couple of months. Shoveling coal was a very short period 
of time. 

But he never was able to have any relationship with anyone. 
He loved his father, John London, and he considered him his 
father. But it wasn t till he became an author that he became 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 



close to--his closest friend would be George Sterling, who was 
a poet. But he craved a closeness he had never received, and I 
think this is what she is saying, I sit at his feet, and I m 
not capable of givinghe was never capable of a close 
relationship. I think that s what I m hearing. 

And then something from one of his letters to her. He referred 
to, quote, "that old peace and rest you had for me, God--you 
had grit." 

Well, he always talked about her grit, the ability she had. 
This is what I mentioned; her positive thinking, her physical 
being. She was for a week or longer the only one on the Snark 
capable of handling the helm. 

Wasn t she! 

She had no fear of the war in Vera Cruz . The war was about 
over, but anyway she had no fear of going anywhere. When he 
wrote about carrying the gun into where the cannibals were, 
[when] the week before the ship drifted in and their motor 
conked out and it was drifting into Los Negros, they just laid 
off and got the intercoastal ships. 

Is that the gun they won t display at the Museum? 

The gun I referred to in the Museum was from when she was in 
Guadalcanal on market day. A picture was taken, and I think 
Martin Johnson took the picture. 

That was aboard the SnarJc? 

Yes, it was a Snark cruise, and it showed native women with 
just beads, and you could see the buttocks and breasts and 
everything, and I forget what magazine was going to publish it, 
but they said, no, they couldn t publish that picture. But, 
you know, the National Geographic publishes all that type of 
picture, and there wasn t any reason- -no, the Museum showed the 
picture, but they won t show the pistol. The pistol used to 
sit down on the shelf. 



Why? 

Well, because of the gun situation, the political. 

Who decides that? 

Oh, the rangers. 



Isn t it-- 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



The rangers won t. And they also won t show fur. You might 
talk about the mink muff. 

Well, there s a picture of her, and she s got a beautiful hat 
and a beautiful mink muff; I think it s silk lined with mink. 
There is something else that is mink. I gave the Museum a 
shawl that s out of material with little mink tails on it. 

Where were they? 

Oh, my mother had them at the house. My mother and father had 
all kinds of stuff. They gave and gave. That s what I m 
saying. You have no idea the amount of material that London 
collected. He just couldn t get enough. 

Because perhaps he had had nothing. 

This is it. As 1 said, Andrew Sinclair couldn t do it in his 
book. He caused a lot of London scholars to be upset. Of 
course, London scholars are jealous people. They don t want 
anyone else working on their material-- 

I can t wait to go to that meeting and listen to them. 

Helen Abbott is going to give a paper. She was down at the 
Huntington at the last one two years ago, and I didn t go to 
it. 

Is she related? 

Her husband was Jack London s grandson. She s got a lot of 
Joan s stuff. You should talk to her. 



You better go and defend yourself. 



But 



No, I haven t anything to defend. I didn t do anything! 
there are going to be some good papers given. Talk to 
Jacqueline Tavernier. She s a Frenchwoman who will be leading 
one of themshe s probably giving a paper. She s bringing out 
a biography, and I think it s going to sort of counteract 
Clarice Stasz 1 biography on Jack London s women. She s a 
professor at the University of Ottawa in Ontario. 

I read so often Jack London couldn t write women well, which I 
don t think is right; what is her point of view? 

She s writing about Jack London s women, involved with Anna 
Strunsky. She s worked on Anna Strunsky; she s worked on 
Ernest Hemingway. She s published an awful lot of material. 






50 



Jeannie Reesman and she are going to stay here a couple of days 
after the symposium. 

Crawford: What happened to all those mink things? 

Shepard: Well, they just store them away, just like they ve got a head 

that the Londons picked up, a shrunken head, just perfect, with 
hair about that long [demonstrates length], and they won t show 
that. 

Crawford: Well, let s go on to some things that I have read about that 
happened here at the Ranch. When she had a riding accident, 
Charmian, she was brought to your house, and she was calling 
for your father. She was close to your father. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. That s when my two sisters had to move into a room 
together. 

Crawford: What do you remember of that time, when Charmian had her 
accident? Was that a grave accident? 

Shepard: No, it wasn t grave; she just had to heal. Put in my sister s 
bedroom. She lived by herself. At that time, she was living 
at the cottage, but he couldn t put her in the cottage. Mother 
would have to take food down and all that kind of stuff. 

Crawford: Where was your mother? Your mother was here then? 

Shepard: Yes, living in Eliza s old house. When my dad came back in 

1920, why, Eliza moved to Wake Robin. Charmian had bought Wake 
Robin and given it to her for an Easter present in 1919, and 
Eliza moved out of the one on the hill up there. 



Hazen Cowan, a Riding Companion 



Crawford: Charmian rode with someone called Hazen Cowan. 
Shepard: Well, Hazen Cowan gave Stone all this malarkey. 
Crawford: He said, "I told Stone lots of stories." 

Shepard: Yes. Charmian s affairs in the haystack and all that stuff. 
They lived on the side of the mountain over here, and Hazen 
would ride to the top and feed the animals and worked with the 
horses and came down, worked the Ranch. And then he was in 
World War I. But he and his brother were both rodeo riders. 



51 



They were world champions. They were tough, tough Scotch- 
Irish. Their cousin settled up the mountain on a meadow that 
they called Cowan s Meadow. They settled up there in--I forget 
whether it was the 1840s or 1850s. 

Crawford: On land that was not part of the Ranch. 

Shepard: Well, it had gone through a couple of hands before London got 

it. The whole mountain was 160 acres, and the Scotch-Irish had 
homesteads up there, but they couldn t make enough money off of 
it, so-- 

Crawford: What was the provision for homesteading? 

Shepard: You re given 160 acres by the federal government. The big rush 
in Oklahoma for homestead land? Well, California had the same 
thing. You could go out and get your land, and you had to farm 
it and live on it. It was a way of getting land to people from 
the East. 

Crawford: Get them to come out here. 

Shepard: They had that right after World War II in Alaska, for veterans. 
Here some of them just lived on the land, when it was owned by 
the Mexicans. They just lived on it. But then others, after 
California became a state, came out, and that s when the 
Homestead Act was put into effect the Homestead Act is still 
in force now. They use it legally here in financial problems. 
You homestead your house, and then if you go through 
bankruptcy, they can t take your house away from you. 



Shepard: You can sell it. 

Crawford: You said they couldn t make a living, the Hazen Cowan family. 

Shepard: Yes, the Cowan family, long before Hazen. But this Ranch had 

several homesteads, and then they were bought up by people, and 
then Jack London bought seven ranches to make the one; the last 
one was around 500 acres, so those were, say, five homesteads 
that had been put together, and that was called the Freund 
Ranch. That was the last one that was bought by Jack, 1913. 



52 

Charmian s House of Happy Walls 
[Interview 3: September 20, 2000] ft 



Crawford: This is interview number three with Milo Shepard for the oral 

history. We re going to continue talking about Charmian London 
and Happy Walls, the place she lived at the end of her life, 
and Irving Stone s book, Sailor on Horseback. Let me start by 
asking you, Milo, about Happy Walls. You can talk about the 
building and design and Charmian s intentions. 

Shepard: Well, the building was started in 1919. My father asked his 
mother, Eliza, "Why in the world do you want her to start to 
build this?" And Eliza said, because she wants to. 

After London died, the finances were tight. By 1922 you 
had a very large Depression and also London s popularity went 
up and down, so the income was erratic. It wasn t until about 
the 1930s, the early thirties, that they started making London 
pictures. They made some earlier, but there wasn t much money 
in it then. 

Crawford: What were the motion pictures? 

Shepard: Well, that s a very complicatedthat s a subject by itself. 

Crawford: Shall we get to that next time? 

Shepard: Yes. Anyway, I forget the architect, but it was mainly 

designed by her. It s over 15,000 square feet, two stories 
with a full basement. It was designed like a ship in some 
ways, but using natural woods and natural rock, stone walls. 

Crawford: What is the stone? 

Shepard: That is fieldstone, while the Wolf House is made out of 

volcanic stone. The stone was all picked up on the Ranch- -the 
stone from the Wolf House was volcanic stone from across the 
valley, from field finds is what they called them, in the 
fields. The stones would be scattered throughout the area. 

The Londons--today they would be considered wealthy. Their 
use of materials was always the finest and natural. Even 
Charmian, when plastic in the thirties first came in and was 
very popular, she didn t have anything plastic. The things in 
the museum, some of them made of lava, some of sterlinga lot 
of that s been stolen. 



< 



Crawford: Was she responsible for the design of the house? 

Shepard: Yes, as Jack was with his. In other words, they had the idea 
of design--Charmian was a pretty good artist in her own right. 

Crawford: A sketcher or a painter? 

Shepard: What I saw was sketches. She did sketches, and those were 
stolen. 

Crawford: Stolen from? 

Shepard: From the ranches. A lot of material was stolen, like my set of 
first editions there were three of them stolen. I have gotten 
two of them back. I know where the third one is, but I can t 
get it back. They won t give it back. One of them was a 
judge s wife, which is a long- 
Crawford: A guest? 

Shepard: No, she belonged to PEN, a women s writing society. You don t 
realize until a lot of people are around if they steal things. 

Crawford: They "borrow." 

Shepard: The watch that Jack gave to Charmian was stolen. They gave 

each other solid gold watches, autographed to "Mate," and that 
was stolen. A lot of this stuff. Occasionally we get some of 
them back. 

Crawford: And they would have come for what? 

Shepard: Well, they came because of the Jack London Ranch, and Eliza was 
showing them through like I showed you the set of first 
editions. They re never under lock and key because if someone 
tried to sell them the book dealers all know of this set and 
they d know it was a stolen book. 

The set is never broken up. One showed up at the 
University of Virginia, and I wrote to them. Of course, they 
wanted proof about it, and I got in contact with the Huntington 
Library, and Earle Labor about the set, and he said, "Yes, 
that s one of them." 

A fellow passed away, and his brothers and sisters were 
handling the estate from Modesto, and they contacted Jeanne 
Reeseman and said they had a first edition of Jack London, 
signed by Jack London to his sister, Eliza. He got to me, and 
I got to them, and I said, "That s a stolen book." They wanted 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 



to sell everything, but I didn t want to buy because most of 
this stuff is just junk, second printings and other books, 
other authors and stuff. Of course, I wanted it back. So 
anyway, I gave them a first edition and checks and some other 
stuff for the book. There wasn t any problem. They wanted me 
to have the book back. So anyway, that s what occurs. 

You look upstairs in Charmian s house, you can see it s 
like a cabin of a ship. Very close friends who performed at 
the opera house in Sydneya world renowned pianist named 
Laurie Smith--his family stayed there in 1928, but Charmian 
didn t move in until 1934, and she lived in there until about 
late forties, 49, say, or 50. Then she fell down the stairs, 
and she came over to the cottage. So no one ever lived in that 
house again. There were only two other people that ever lived 
in that house besides Charmian. 

One was a woman who was part of the Ridenhour family, who 
catalogued her library of about 25,000 books. It is a 
beautiful room. They took all the bookshelves out and changed 
the whole thing so it looks like it has London s desk and 
London s things. It s Jack London State Park. The State Park 
didn t want to have hardly anything of Charmian s stuff, so all 
that was sent to Utah State. 

They decide what goes into the museum? 

Oh, certainly. We don t. It was sort of hard on my parents. 
It didn t bother me too much. But they ve eased up as they 
realized that it is Charmian s involvement with Jack, but I 
think they wished they had some of that stuff back. 

What went to Utah State was a diary that London hadsome 
excellent research material, and the reason why it went there 
was because my father was working with King Hendricks and 
publishing one book of London s letters and some of his other 
work. King Hendricks was an English professor and he was a 
friend of Charmian s. 

So the one woman catalogued the whole library, and the 
other woman was an artist, a young girl. 

While she was there. 

While she was there; she stayed with Charraian. 

Where did she come from? 



55 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



She was the daughter of an old friend. I m trying to think of 
her name. Evelyn AlbrightAlbright was an artist in East Bay, 
I believe. The daughter just died. She was in her eighties. 
She was in a rest home out at Moraga. But anyway, those are 
the only two that lived in that house [while Charmian was 
alive). 

Did Charmian have guests a lot? 

No, never had any guests. The guests stayed at the guest 
ranch. They were fed over here at the guest ranch. She 
wouldn t allow anyone in the house. 

That downstairs room on the first floor is an enormous room. 
Well, the one upstairs is a large one, too. 



It s very large, too. 
entertaining. 



It looked as if it was made for 



What she says in the willat the top of the stairways there s 
a written will to display the collection of material that they 
put together in their travels. I ve mentioned the big rugs and 
the big things that have been stolen. A lot of it has 
disappeared; a lot of it they won t put on display because it s 
not correct today, as I ve said. 

What are some of the other things that are not considered 
correct? 



The shrunken head, and the furs, 
disappeared. 



A lot of those have 



I read the will, in which she said that the house could be used 
to produce revenue. 

What that would mean for revenue producing was to charge a fee 
to maintain the salary of some custodian or something like 
this. I don t believe that she ever envisioned the whole Ranch 
the way the will was written. This is why the state only got 
the thirty-nine acres from my father in the 1960s. I guess it 
was thirty-nine acres- -the first gift of the Wolf House, the 
grave, and the House of Happy Walls. I don t think she 
envisioned that the whole Ranch would become a state park. 

The state park system didn t want it, and this is difficult 
to explain, but Jack London was very controversial. He was 
either loved or hated. That s why he was written about so 



56 



much, published so much in newspapers, whatever he did. 
was something about his aura that drew people to him. 



There 



I may have told you the story about the four-horse trip. 
Charmian writes: "We d arrive in a town, Jack would get out and 
walk, and I would go in with Nakata and I d get cleaned up, and 
Jack would come back two hours later and we d go out to dinner, 
and as we walked down the street to dinner, why, someone would 
say, Hello, Jack. Hello, Little Jim. Or Hello, Jack 
Hello, Tom. " 

Crawford: He already knew everybody. 

Shepard: He knew everyone. He knew everyone. Had stories. London had 
a hard time creating stories. This is why he got the plots 
from Sinclair Lewis. He had a hard time, but if he heard a 
story, he could write it and upgrade the story. He said, "No, 
I have not plagiarized anything," when he was accused of 
plagiarism. "I have takenthere are only so many ideas. I 
have taken an idea and reinterpreted it." 

Crawford: Lewis sent him plots when he was young and struggling, didn t 
he? 

Shepard: Well, no. What happened was that Lewis was broke. 
Crawford: Yes, that s when I meant. 

Shepard: Yes. He used--I forget the exact numberbut say he bought ten 
and maybe used four. He didn t use all the plots. 

Crawford: Well, back to Happy Walls for a moment. Where did Charmian 
find her architect? 

Shepard: I do not know that. I really don t know. I know some of the 
craftsmen. There were many craftsmen working on the house. 

Crawford: You remember it being built. 

Shepard: When I first remember the house, the walls were up. The house 
was enclosed, but it wasn t finished inside. I remember the big 
table. There was--I think it was a Swede?--Dirk, Dirk was his 
name, and he would hand-carve things for Charmian. She had 
drawn out what she wanted, and she was very proud of the house. 
She d take people through and explain things. She would have 
lights that she would place under a picture to lighten and 
project something she wanted to emphasize. 



57 



But around the table, ten chairs are Polynesian, but the 
table was Grecian, and she was showing how the Polynesian 
design was similar to the Greek. She always made those 
comparisons, which other people did, too. 

Crawford: Did she have any help there? 

Shepard: No. My mother would have a cleaning lady do a little bit. 

There s an internal staircase from the library up to her living 
quarters upstairs. Upstairs she had a butler s pantry. The 
main room was never used. The windows were triple plate. All 
the window frames were solid brass. The screens were copper. 
The gutters were all copper. Fine materials and fine 
workmanship, and so it never got dusty. It never got dirty. 
And the temperature would stay the same. 

Crawford: So it needed very little. 

Shepard: It needed very little. But she never served on that table. 

She had a 1930s stove that was green enamel. You see the sink 
there. 

Crawford: Oh, yes. It s a handsome, expansive room. 

Shepard: What you see, though, is just the butler s pantry. The 

kitchen s in the next room over, where the stoves are, but it 
was never used for that. 

Crawford: I was very impressed that she had bought Robert Louis 
Stevenson s dishes from Samoa, and they are there. 

Shepard: Yes. There s an interesting story Charmian wrote about in her 
book, the biography, but she was never believed, really 
believed. There was a man by the name of Norman Strouse. He 
was the president of J. Walter Thompson, the New York 
advertising agency. He came to Napa Valley, and he was a 
Stevenson buff and became friends with my mother and father. 

They were over at the museum one day, and this friend of my 
mother and father said, "Here s Charmian s dishes, and here was 
Stevenson, eating off those dishes." What happened is that 
when a sailing ship was commissioned in England, the officers 
were always given a set of dishes, and those were officers 
dishes for a sailing ship. 

Crawford: Made in Germany, I think? 






58 



Shepard: I believe so, yes. It s fine china. But the design is to me 
beautiful because it s not all flowery or anything, just those 
lines around. 

Crawford: Yes. Well, they reconstructed or recreated Jack London s 
bedroom from the cottage at Happy Walls. Is that right? 

Shepard: Jack London slept on the sleeping porch at the cottage. That 

was Charmian s bedroom in a sense, in the House of Happy Walls. 
They just put the stuff from Jack s sleeping porch into that 
room. 

Crawford: Would your father have had to give his permission for them to 
do that? 

Shepard: What happened was when my father gave- -that s a long story- - 
gave all that stuff to the state, he didn t give all the 
material; he just gave some of it because he wanted to keep a 
handle on it and see it was done correctly. 

When he died, I had to go to court because the [Irving 
Shepard] Trust could not give anything away, and I wanted to 
get this stuff taken care of. The Huntington had material, and 
then there was this material at the state park. 

In the meantime I was fighting with the appraisers and had 
to have it reappraised three times because they said it wasn t 
a high enough appraisal, and I was saying, "Well, if you take 
all this material out and put it up for auction, you re going 
to get about a penny on the dollar, if that much." So they 
finally went along with it. 

When the museum was given to the state, everything in Jack 
London s workroom was taken over there. Now today, they ve 
fixed up the cottage and they want to bring everything back, 
just the way it was. They don t know what they re going to do 
with the building, since it is the Jack London State Park, not 
Charmian s. They don t know what they re going to do with it. 

You d asked me a question earlier--! was going to answer it 
and I got off in left field again. It was about Jack London 
being controversial. 



59 



The Controversy about Jack London and the Gift of Happy Walls 
and London Biographers 



Crawford: Oh, you said the state park didn t want the place initially. I 
think that s where you were when the phone rang. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. That s right. The state park didn t want the place. 
The state park commission had turned it down as a state park. 
Leo Carrillo said, "We don t want to have a state park honoring 
a Communist." 

Crawford: Leo Carrillo?! What was his role? 

Shepard: He was on the state park commission, and they just said no. 
Well, there happened to be a senator who was a friend of the 
family, a state senator, and he decided to change that. So he 
gets a bill passed through the legislature and forced the state 
park system to take it. And they didn t want it. They said, 
"You won t get 10,000 people a year there." 

Crawford: Because of his socialist leanings. 

Shepard: Well, all kinds of stuff. The first year was not a full year, 
and they had over 90,000, and they haven t gone under 100,000 
visitors since. It s one of the most popular parks. So that s 
part of the environment that 1 was raised in, and this is why 
my father and Charmian were so defensive of Jack. He said you 
get potshots taken at you all the time. 

Crawford: I wonder if that s why they have included in the exhibit Jack 
London s letter of resignation from the Socialist Party. 

Shepard: I don t think so. I think that s more part of London s life. 
His resignation letter is a very important document as to his 
thinking, his thinking on socialism, his advocacy. You have to 
realize there were fifteen different socialist parties in the 
United States. Oh, what the heck was his name? Berkman?--and 
there was a woman- -he was thrown in jail and then they both 
were deported. Goldman. 

Crawford: Emma Goldman. 

Shepard: London knew them. Berkman was an anarchist, and he tried to 

assassinate someone. He wrote a book about it and asked London 
to write the introduction, and London wrote the introduction. 
He didn t use it as an introduction because London criticized 
him so much. He said, "You people are so incompetent you can t 



60 



even blow up a railroad train." 
way London wrote it. 



[laughs] It was funny, the 



Crawford; 



So there were these different parties and things. Today, 
you know, we talk about other parties, the Green Party. . .those 
parties aren t anything. In London s lifetime they were really 
advocates of overthrowing the government, and there were all 
kinds of political parties at the turn of the century. 

The reason why these parties had the strength they had is 
that you didn t have communications. You had local newspapers, 
but 90 percent of the people lived on farms, and you didn t 
have TV and you didn t have radio, and so what you were doing 
in an area was not necessarily known. London s socialism was 
basically that everyone should have equal opportunity, and if 
you did not work you shouldn t be paid. But you should have 
the opportunity, and you should be paid according to your 
production. 

He apparently was happy to have this Ranch because he could 
employ people as workers. Was that how he defended his 
position as a big landholder? 



Shepard: That s correct. When you look at his material things, you 

realize he collected an awful lot of very nice things. Those 
are on display. His clothes? He didn t have much of a 
wardrobe. They were well-made, and Charmian was the same. But 
they used them over and over again. In other words, they were 
not clothes-hogs; they didn t have all kinds of shoes and boots 
and all this that a lot of people with money had in those days. 

Crawford: What would you say were the most extravagant things that they 
collected? 

Shepard: Well, I gave to Louisiana a set of three thermos bottles from a 
famous thermos bottle company. It s the one that s usually in 
people s minds. They were all done in a leather case. He had 
a Luger gun that cost $200, which was a lot of money in those 
days; $200 for a gun. 

Crawford: That was a hunting gun? 

Shepard: Yes, it was supposedly hunting. His clothes were fine linen, 
of good quality, but they would last. You look at the quality 
of thatby golly, a lot of it was hidden away in trunks and 
suitcases. There must have been fifteen or twenty of these 
great big trunks, steamer trunks, just beautiful things. I 
have a couple left here that I didn t give to Louisiana. 
There s some at the state park. The state park has so much 



61 



duplicate stuff that they can t exhibit it. Just like the 
bookcase over there. It s well made. That belonged to London. 

Crawford: That is a beautiful piece. Is it English? 

Shepard: No, no, it s not English. Of course, it s handmade. This 

brass is special brass from Korea. Has a high percentage of 
gold in it to give you that deep color. 

Crawford: The three bowls here on the table. Where did he pick those up? 

Shepard: In Korea. He spent money to build things that last forever, as 
far as he was concerned, and sometimes they weren t built 
correctly. He had a lot of problems with some of the 
employees, but it wasn t usually the employees; it was usually 
the contractors themselves. It happens today, the same way. 
It s human nature. 

Crawford: You have to oversee everything, don t you? 

Shepard: Yes. You have to see it through yourself. You can t turn them 
loose. 

Crawford: Would he have picked those up when he was a correspondent in 
the Russo-Japanese War? 

Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: That is the single most amazing adventure I ve ever read about. 
He had to build a junk, didn t he, and cross the sea of Japan? 
All the way from Japan to Korea, where he learned to ride 
horseback, bought a horse, and traveled to the front, where he 
was imprisoned. 

Shepard: Yes. A photographer who was traveling with him had gotten 

there some other way, and he said when Jack London arrived, "He 
could hardly get out of the boat, and when he did he just fell 
flat on his face, and we thought he had died." Freezing cold. 
You know, in the Korean War people don t realize that there was 
more people killed by freezing and the weather conditions in 
Korea than in the actual battles with guns and ammunition. 

Crawford: London couldn t get to the front. Isn t that it? 

Shepard: No. It s that the Japanese- -you re correct, but the Japanese 
would not allow any correspondents into Korea, and so all the 
correspondents were sitting in Tokyo, and each day they were 
given these bulletins as to what was happening with the war, 



62 



and Jack London thought they were lying, 
built and went across. 



So he had this ship 



Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Theodore Roosevelt, President Roosevelt got him out. 
Oh, is that a fact? 

Yes. That s in one of the Korean cases in the state park. 
Jack London arrested. Anyway, he was well enough that the 
Koreans gave him a medal. It s sitting in the case there. I 
came across it recently. I didn t know what it was. I was 
working with a Korean, and I said, "Do you know anything about 
this?" "Oh, yes," he said, "that s a famous medal." I gave it 
to the state. 

I want to mention my favorite thing in all of Happy Walls. 
It s a letter which they call the "Dead Horse Letter," which 
London wrote in 1913 to Park & Sons, a building contractor. It 
was during the building of Wolf House, and they hadn t bothered 
to collect from Jack London, and then the Wolf House had 
burned, so he wrote them saying he had spent their thousand 
dollars, and the house was now burned down. He said, "I can t 
unspend this money now," and then he said, "My copyrights have 
been attacked, they ve pirated films on all my works and all my 
author s rights. It s been a real hard year." He said, "Sue 
me, and I ll pay you, but I d rather not." I thought that was 
revealing. 

What is happening in that letter is exactly what s happening 
today with the Internet, with the songwriters. London had to 
fight each time some new process occurred, even when TV came 
and they used one type camera for TV and another type for 
motion pictures. One was considered a motion picture camera 
under the copyright, and the other would be a TV camera under 
copyright, but the TV people said, "We don t have to pay 
royalties." 

When the silent pictures came out, then talking pictures 
came out, there were always court cases, and the film people 
would not pay royalties. That s why this decision today--! 
knew what the decision would be by the courts, that yes, you 
have to pay these artists; otherwise, no one could afford to be 
an artist if they didn t get royalties. It s a product of what 
they ve created, and they should be compensated if other people 
are using it. Same as putting a song on the Internet, then 
taking it off and not paying for the use of it-- 



63 



Crawford: Pirating. Well, let s see. Your father gave this museum to 
the state in 1960. That was an outright gift? 

Shepard: It was an outright gift of the museum, the grave, and the Wolf 
House ruins, and five acres of land around each one. I think 
the state bought fifteen acres from my father, paid him. 



Then they bought more later, 
thousand acres. 



The state has around a 



Crawford: Why did he decide not to give the rest to them? 

Shepard: Well, if you give something like that, it becomes an economic 
thing. You have to pay gift tax. So what you do for tax 
purposes, you give a certain amount and then they buy a certain 
amount so that they balance each other. 

This is the way it works out. You aren t making any money 
off of it. He didn t make any money off of it. We made money 
on the sale and we had all these inheritance taxes to pay. 
Congress passed the death tax legislation and Clinton vetoed 
it. All these farmers, with the value of the farmland and 
everything going up, they re left whistling Dixie. They re 
selling the farms back in the Midwest right and left because 
they can t pay the inheritance tax. 

Sure, my dad had a couple of hundred thousand dollars in 
bonds and lived very well and probably had an income of a 
hundred thousand a year, but if you re hit with over a million 
dollars taxes, what are you going to do? 

Crawford: Interesting. Well, the only other thing I wanted to ask you 
about in this session-- 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



You asked me how Charmian kept busy. The latter part of her 
life she was writing a book on the cruise of the Derrigo, which 
was a shipthey went from Baltimore to Seattle. Charmian 
carried on a very large correspondence with people all over the 
world. She worked at her typewriter. In the upstairs room she 
had a table and another working table. That whole area. The 
room next to it was just filled with all these clippings and 
stuff. Typical writer s workplace. 

She considered herself a writer primarily. 

Yes, and she had a terrific correspondence with people all over 
the world. She was accepted by royalty and business people 
throughout Europe and, of course, in the United States. As I 



64 



said before, she was on "We, the People," a very prestigious 
program. She was very busy. 

She did the wholeI m repeating myself, but she did the 
whole opera season. Darn, I had that woman s name in my mind. 
She was a writer for the Examiner. Davies. Davies. I forget 
her first name. But anyway, she stayed with her in the city 
for the season. I would say that the days weren t long enough 
for her, she was so active. And she rode and she swam. When 
I d ride with her sometimes, we d get to the lake and take off 
the saddles and go swimming with the animals. 

Crawford: Oh, the animals would go swimming too? 

Shepard: Oh, yes, they loved doing that. If they weren t too hot, why, 
we d take them swimming. London had about twenty- five miles of 
trail that she could use on this Ranch and adjacent ranches. 
In those days ranches were ranches. Today ranches are private 
property, if I could put it that way. 

Crawford: The land was wide open. 

Shepard: Yes. If you saw someone, you went over and said hello, and if 
you went by a house, why, you stopped and said, "I m going 
through." But that s the way it was in those days, all the way 
up to World War II. 



Charmian s Last Days ## 



Crawford: Tell me about Charmian s old age and her death. 

Shepard: Charmian--! saw her the day before she died. She was out 

walking. We had a lay nurse or whatever you want to call it 
that cooked and took care of some things, and she was able to 
walk, and, oh, I d say the last four years or two years of her 
life, she had numerous little strokes. She just died in her 
sleep. 

Crawford: How did the strokes show themselves? 

Shepard: Well, she would pass out, and then she would come to, and there 
was a time when she would lose her memory. 

I picked up an old man one one day, walking up the road to 
the Ranch. It was a dirt road, who said he wanted to see 



65 



Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



Charmian before he died. 
Esperanto. 



He had translated Jack London into 



I told her, "Charmian, there s a man here from Macmillan 
who translated into Esperanto." "Oh, yes!" she said. She 
said, "He sent me a book." And she said, "I lost it. Then I 
wrote him a letter, and he sent me another one." I said, "He 
said he would like to talk to you, would like to see you." She 
said yes. 

She always wore slacks. She wore slacks before women even 
started wearing slacks, but she was always dressed 
immaculately. She walked out, and they talked for maybe half 
an hour. Then I broke into the conversation. I could see she 
was getting tired. He was crying and said, "She s wonderful." 
He said, "She s not sick." I said, "Yes, but if you ask her 
what she did yesterday, she couldn t have told you." 

But she remembered everything, the book thing, and they 
talked about something he contacted her about--his 
translations, to be sure that he was interpreting what was 
written correctly. Charraian worked with all these publishers 
and all these people. It was just before she died. 

Did she help at Stanford, with the letters? 

No, no. Gosh, no, I did those with Earle and Bob. 



Of course that was much later, 
materials? 



How did she work with the 



Well, you look at the collection at the Huntington and you look 
at the collection at Utah State, there are thousands of items. 
She put together a hundred-and-some-odd small albums of 
pictures, on say, Solomon Islands or Molokai or four-horse 
trip. Plus another fifty big albums. Organizing all this vast 
material. 



Crawford: Did she archive it? 

Shepard: No, she did not archive it. All the stuff was to go to the 

Wolf House. When they came back they started the Wolf House in 
1911, but they had the barn built below the Wolf House, and 
they had rooms in the barn, and those rooms are just filled 
with stuff, just filled with it. So when Dad finally came 
back, he put a lot of it in the carriage room, and a lot went 
in the cottage, and a lot of it was over at Charmian s house. 



66 



The Wolf House burned, so they had to continue to store the 
stuff in that barn. Well, in the 1930s they sold that Hill 
Ranch, so Dad had to bring all that stuff back. And in the 
1950s he sent a bunch of the stuff that was stored at the Ranch 
down to the Huntington Library, and Tony Bubka catalogued it. 
It was a project for the Huntington Library. He d open a page 
and there would be pieces of straw. He said, "I wonder where 
all this straw came from in this material." It was because it 
was stored in the barn and the hay was upstairs, and it 
filtered down into that damn stuff. [laughter] 

It was just the last few years of her life, when she 
started getting those strokes, that she slowed up. She sat and 
wrote holograph stuff --[tape interruption] She was always 
busy. She had no trouble finding something to do. 

Crawford: Did she have friends who came up to visit her? 

Shepard: Well, you know, when you get into your eighties, you start 
losing friends. You only have a very few close friends to 
start with, even with the Londons entertaining and doing all 
that stuff here at the Ranch. They were only here five years. 
They came back from the four-horse trip in 1911. He died in 
1916. They went on the Derrigo for six months in the Hawaiian 
Islands, two times for six months. They were down in Vera 
Cruz. They were probably only on the Ranch two years total. 

Crawford: After he died, did she attempt to speak about him? 

Shepard: Oh, yes. She loved to talk about him. When I came on the 

scene and I can remember--! 11 tell you a story. In 1936 she 
asked my father to buy her a car, and my father said, "I m not 
going to teach you to drive." So he bought a car up in Santa 
Rosa, and told the salesman, "You have to teach Charmian London 
how to drive." It was a little Dodge coupe. So anyway, she 
was driving around, down and around, and up into the orchard. 

And then she drove to Los Angeles and stayed with some 
friends. My mother heard something about her going there, and 
she laughed. Charmian went to Los Angeles and had a facelift. 
She didn t want to let anyone know about it. Nothing was ever 
said about it while she was alive. But she drove to Los 
Angeles. She didn t stay with those friends. She went to a 
doctor and had a facelift and stayed some place and got healed. 

Crawford: How old was she when she did that? 

Shepard: Well, 1936, so in her sixties. But she loved to come over on 
Saturday or Sunday at the guest ranch, or sometimes several 



67 



days at at time for dinner, and I ve got pictures of her. She 
was very social. She was a very social woman. She was also 
social locally, with the dances and things. 

Crawford: What did she do locally? 

Shepard: Well, she went to these functions to raise money, like for the 
fire engines, or dances; to raise money for something. One was 
an evening with someone who weighed about 300-some-odd pounds, 
and he loved to dance with her. 

Crawford: Who was he? 

Shepard: Oh, he was a local fanner. He owned a winery. But anyway, he 
said he went dancing, and he danced with her, and the fellow 
standing next to him said, "I think I ll dance with that 
chick"--and he said, "She s old enough to be your mother." 

Crawford: She took care of herself. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. 

Crawford: Would you name all the places she lived on the property? 

Shepard: She lived at Wake Robin, she lived at the cottage, she stayed 
up at Eliza s house. 

Crawford: Where was Eliza s house? 

Shepard: Well, that s the house on the hill, where my parents lived. 

You go into the vineyard and it sits right up there. When you 
come into my garage you can look straight up and see it. A 
shingled house, about three thousand square feet. 

Crawford: And she designed that. 

Shepard: She designed it. You can look at the high ceilings. 

Crawford: Who designed that with her? 

Shepard: I don t remember the name of the architect. You asked about 
the architect of Wolf House... He was a neighbor of London s 
when he was a kid in Oakland. 

Crawford: Oh, really? 

Shepard: He was pretty famous in San Francisco, Albert Farr. 

Crawford: I wonder if he was related to the Carmel family. 



68 



Shepard: They could have been. It was a pretty well-known family. In 
high school we had dances down there. A bunch of us started a 
fire and cooked hot dogs. Cooked hot dogs and continued to 
dance. 

Crawford: Was there electricity? 

Shepard: No. [laughter] 

Crawford: Well, what was Charmian s wish for her funeral? 

Shepard: She was buried next to Jack, and to Eliza. 



Irving and Jean Stone and Sailor on Horseback, and the Question 
of London s Suicide ## 



Crawford: Let s talk about the legislation that affected that when we 
discuss the Ranch. For now let s move on to Irving and Jean 
Stone. You knew the Stones, and I d be interested in your 
impressions. 

Shepard: Yes. Well, to me, he was an obnoxious man, as a kid, just the 
way he was . 

Crawford: He came up here when?--in the late thirties? 

Shepard: Yes. Mid-thirties, I think. I don t know what year the book 
was published. I think it was around 37. Thirty-six he was 
up here. I know Eliza was still alive when he came out. She 
died in 39. 

Stone was always set down next to us kids at the table. 
Charmian sat down at that end of the table. Newer people sat 
up next to my dad. Stone had a teapot sitting by the duck 
press. After dinner he d get up and he d take half a stick of, 
say, spearmint gum and eat it, come back and sit down at the 
table and chew gum. Boy, we were raised you don t chew gum 
like that, you know? His mannerisms. He was very crude. 

I was a kid. "I wonder if he s ever going to offer us a 
piece of gum, dammit." [laughs] And he wasn t too easy on 
Jean. I think I mentioned about the party at the lake. She 
was carrying their first child, and--just his mannerisms and 
everything. And then listening to my folks talk about him. 
And afterwards seeing the letters that he wrote to Charmian 
they re at the Huntington Libraryand Eliza and that 



69 



correspondence. I mean, it makes you sick. This manwhen you 
first saw him, you said, "My God, I wonder if his wife knew 
that he was doing this." He was almost making love to 
Charmian. I mean, courting her. 

Crawford: According to Jean Stone, she encouraged him. I brought some 

notes from her oral history; you may not know that we ve done a 
complete oral history with Jean Stone. I d like to read you 
some of this and get your impressions. We re talking now about 
wooing Charmian, right? 

Shepard: Yes, but this was before Jean even arrived. This is before 
Stone even started writing, and I don t know how Jean knew 
Charmian was doing this. In other words, if you want to read 
that in, why, read it in. 

What happened was that Charmian saw Stone s book--I think 
it was either Dear Theo or Lust for Life. It was Van Gogh s 
life. Charmian had been looking for someone to do a biography. 
A lot of people wanted to do London s biography, but Charmian 
wanted it to be done correctly, because of the controversies 
and all that. She really wanted Stone to do it. So I can 
understand Jean saying that Charmian wanted Stone to do the 
biography, but what I m saying is that when Charmian contacted 
him, those lettersthey make you sick. 

Crawford: They re just out-and-out love letters, are they? 

Shepard: Well, he s a huckster. He s a used-car salesman. That s what 
you get from reading it. 

Crawford: Where are those letters? 

Shepard: They re at the Huntington Library. Jean has gotten into the 
position that Charmian got into, in that Stone s first works 
were accepted, but then Charmian met the relatives of Van Gogh, 
and they were just livid about what Stone did. This is what 
happened with the London book. 

All of a sudden, Stone is being criticized as to the 
quality of work. In fact, Charmian threatened the publisher 
with a lawsuit. She said, "I will not stop the book, but I 
want you to not have it as a biography of Jack London. I want 
it to be a biographical novel." The ones after that came out 
as a biographical novel. 

Crawford: Is that a fact? 



70 



Shepard: That s a fact. Charmian showed Stone just enough, plus there 
was his plagiarisma whole section. Ken magazine printed it, 
if you can get a copy of the Ken magazine of that year. When 
the book came out there was a whole section in it that Stone 
had just put in, taken from John Barleycorn and Martin Eden. 

The family made the decision not to sue Stone because that 
would make the book more popular, but it became popular anyway, 
Sailor on Horseback. And as I showed you in one of the 
autographs, he took that from Jack London. 

Crawford: Yes, Jack London wanted to name his autobiography Sailor on 
Horseback. 

Shepard: So what I m saying is Jean over the years has been trying to 
protect Stone, and I don t blame her, as Charmian did Jack. 
Charmian told some untruths, using some of the letters in her 
biography out of context and not putting the whole letter in, 
and things like that, trying to prove a point or whatever. 

So Jean is in that position today. Well, Andrew Sinclair 
wrote the book, Jack. He went to see the Stone collection; got 
permission to see it from Irving Stone and he took pages from 
the albums that Stone had stolen, and took them back to the 
Huntington Library! 

Crawford: Stone actually took materials? 

Shepard: Oh, certainly. Stone took material from the diaries. He got 
into the diariesEliza showed him where they were, and Eliza 
saw what he was doing and saw some of the stuff that he d 
written about Charmian. She said, "If you handle me that way," 
she said, "I ll sue you." So he handled Eliza pretty good. 

Crawford: Yes. Apparently Stone had told Jean that London showed him how 
to write. And he d always been a fan of London and had always 
wanted to do this book. Also, Stone had a very close 
relationship with his grandmother up in Jack London country in 
the summers. So the inspiration came at a very young age to 
write the book. 

Shepard: He had wanted to be another Jack London. We all know that. 

Crawford: Well, let me tell you what Jean said, and you can tell me what 
you think. Jean claimed they didn t get along with Charmian, 
who was seventy-two at the time. She said that Charmian, at 
5:30 a.m. "rode naked to the cold, cold lake and swam." 



71 



Shepard: Charmian never got up at that time in her whole life. Channian 
worked late at night and didn t get up till nine or ten o clock 
in the morning. We d come home and see the lights on in the 
House of Happy Walls, twelve, one o clock in the morning 
sometimes. She never had a phone. She never had a phone in 
the house. 

Crawford: She didn t want a phone. 

Shepard: No. And so sometimes my folks would drop in and see if she was 
doing okay; she had a problem with amnesia. 

Crawford: Jean said Eliza encouraged Stone to do the work and that she 
and Irving really wooed Charmian because they needed the 
letters. Jean said, "I told Irving [Stone], Take her 
dancing. " He reported that "Charmian embarrassed him with her 
red hair and dress and cuddling him." Jean reports that about 
her husband! 



Shepard: 



She also said that when they first arrived at the Ranch, 
when Jean first arrived, Charmian said to Jean, "You re going 
to be in a cabin next to the stables." Jean was pregnant, and 
the mare was foaling, and Charmian supposedly wanted her to be 
with the mare, both being pregnant. And Irving was to stay 
with Charmian up in the house because they were going to be 
working together, but Irving declined. He and Jean would be 
together in the cottage. 

If you look at Charmian s diaries, she wasn t here most of the 
time when Stone was here. 



Crawford: That would be interesting to check out. 

Shepard: Yes. I d check that out, because well, anyway, let her have 

her say. But it s so fantastic. This is stuff that I ve lived 
with my whole life. 

Crawford: Well, that s why I m asking you about it. 

Shepard: Yes, but what can you say? You can t prove it. Boy, I could 
attempt it, but knowing Charmian and knowing what happened on 
the Ranch, I just could never see her getting up at 5:30 in the 
morning. God, it s cold as hell at 5:30 in the morning around 
here. And you don t ride naked! 

Crawford: Well, not at seventy, I wouldn t think. 

Shepard: Well, you don t ride naked! My God! You mayif you take your 
horse swimming, you ve got a swimsuit on, but the closest thing 



72 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 
Crawford: 

Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



that comes to any pictures of Jack or Charmian unclothed is 
Jack s physical culture pictures. There s a series where he 
posed with shorts on, but never anything in the nude. In Jack 
London s writings, in his whole upbringing, nudity was just not 
in their culture. 

Very interesting point. 

Jack London said he would never write anything that his 
daughters could not read. And he didn t. He may have a "god 
damn" in French-Canadian- -you know, using that type of 
language, but never what we consider four-letter words. So 
anyway, continue on. 

The last thing Jean said was that Charmian--! m assuming Irving 
Stone reported this to herthat Charmian wanted to work with 
him on the letters, and he told her he didn t want anyone to be 
hovering while he was reading the letters. So Charmian only 
gave him three at a time. 

I wouldn t know that. I have no idea. 

That was just to indicate he spurned her idea of working very 
closely with him. 

Well, that could very well be true. Charmian was so fearful 
about what would be written, that it would be incorrect, 
because there was so much junk out there about Jack London. 

In the majority of the biographies you read about his being 
a drunkard and all these negative things about Jack London 
instead of positive things; analyzing his life and analyzing 
his philosophical outlook towards life, and looking at his 
library and the well-annotated material of different 
philosophers and people he d read that informed the man in 
coming to a decent decision of what made the man tick. 

I mentioned that The Bancroft Library considered him just a 
writer of boys stories or local stories instead of crediting 
the depth of some of the materials scholars are working on now. 
They re just starting to understand what was in this man s 
makeup . 



You ve mentioned Earle Labor, 
doesn t he? 



He knows as much as anyone, 



That s right. London is his whole career, and Earle is 
seventy- two years old now. He called me the other night and 






wanted to know something, 
biography. 



He s just finishing the definitive 



Crawford: Several people have spent entire lives studying London. 

Shepard: Many scholars have spent their entire lives. And some of them 
didn t even realize it. Like Bob Leitz, who I call not a 
scholar as much as a technician. He archived the letters, and 
that took about eleven or twelve years to do, and then we did 
the short stories, and that took five years to do; Earle Labor 
and Bob Leitz and myself. 

Bob Leitz started as a young college professor at LSU- 
Western, and he woke up and said, "My God," he said, "I started 
when I was twenty-eight, and now I m almost forty, and my 
career is almost finished." I don t want you to take this as 
criticism, that I called Bob a technician. He s probably one 
of the best there is. He will take letters, put them into 
shape, do all the annotations, and put them into a scholastic 
form that you use with letters, and he s probably one of the 
best in the United States that does that type work. He s not a 
scholar in one sense, but he is a scholar of analyzing letters. 

Crawford: Your father and you have both done editing of London materials, 
haven t you? 

Shepard: Yes, we worked with English professors. 
Crawford: And what was your role? 

Shepard: My role was mainly to find material, and to analyze. Not the 
scholarly bit of analysis but analyzing the facts of what s in 
the letter, if I m putting that correctly. When London 
describes riding over the hills finding where this was-- 
physical things. 

Crawford: Would your findings be added to the letters? 

Shepard: Well, yes. Letters are annotated. This is what Bob Leitz 
does . 

Crawford: The annotations. I see. 

Shepard: In other words, so-and-so is mentioned. Well, Hazen Cowan, 

say. And they d ask, "Who s Hazen Cowan?" Well, Hazen Cowan 
was a cowboy and worked with the horses, blah, blah, blah. We 
have talked about him. But I just use his name as an example. 
So that might be a footnote. Hazen Cowan, who worked on the 
Ranch so many years. 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



And so you ve put in considerable time with this. 

I don t put in that much, not half as much, or a quarter as 
much as Bob Leitz and Earle Labor did. They could have done it 
without me, but it wouldn t have been as complete. Let s put 
it that way. 

Yes. You re closest to the source. 

I think that s what bothers me the most, is that some of the 
biographers have never gotten to the Huntington Library or if 
they have, they ve just looked at it and that was it. 

Andrew Sinclair thought he would write a biography in about 
three or four months, because his field was American 
literature, and he d work on London. He got into it, and by 
the time he was done, he had written three manuscripts: one in 
the first person, one in the third person, and then the third 
one in the first person. He was on it almost two years. 3 They 
are professionals at the Huntington Library, and they said they 
never saw a man who went through material so thoroughly. They 
can tell what quality the scholar is by the material that they 
ask them to bring out. 

Well, let s go on to Sailor on Horseback. 1 In what way do you 
think Stone was overly negative about Charmian, and 
particularly his physical descriptions of Charmian? 



I haven t read Sailor on Horseback for 



I don t remember. 
years. 

II 



I will read this to you, and you can tell me what you think. 
"At thirty-two, Charmian was not considered pretty. She had 
thin lips, narrow eyes, and drooping lids. But she carried 
herself with an air of exciting bravado." 

Well, I don t agree with it. 
Bravado? 

It was really not bravado, and I never thought of her as thin- 
lipped. He s describing a woman with male characteristics: 



Jack: A Biography of Jack London. New York: Harper & Row, 1977. 
Cambridge, MA: Houghton Miff lin Co. , 1938. 



thin- lipped, bravado. That s why I disagree. Charmian was 
feminine, very feminine. 

Crawford: Her pictures certainly look that way. 

Shepard: Yes. The only time she ever showed bravado, in my mind, was 
when something would happen and she always was a take-charge 
person, and she would challenge anything. She would challenge 
anything. She would challenge a fight. She had no fear of 
getting into two stallions fighting, say. But that s not 
bravado. She never talked about or gossiped about that sort of 
thing. 

Crawford: She didn t boast about the things she did. 

Shepard: Boast, yes, that s the word I want to use. She didn t boast 
about what she did. Even writing about her trips in the 
biography, she never boasted about anything. She made a 
statement that "I was at the helm while the rest of them were 
sick for so long," but she didn t go on and on and on about it. 
She was very factual. 

Crawford: There is a more flattering description earlier in the book: 
"Charmian, vivacious, quick-tongued, with a slender but 
sensuous figure, was twenty-nine years old and still 
unmarried. " 



Shepard: That s fine. 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



That s more to your liking. All right, good. Let s move 
along, then, to her venturesomeness. I think he rather admired 
that. I don t see that as anything but positive. "During the 
two years of venturing"--he is writing about the Snark-- 
"Charmian proved her worth to Jack. She was dead game, a woman 
of inexhaustible courage, cheerful, staunch, as staunch as a 
man companion when bucking danger. She was calm in troubled 
water, a joyous companion in good times." 

Yes, that is fine. But it s more than just what Stone did with 
Charmian in the book; it s the book and the way it s 
constructed: the plagiarism. That bothers me. 

Is Earle trying to correct some of those errors in his book- 
setting the record straight, as you are? 

No. He s not bringing that into his biography of London, what 
Stone did. Stone was really criticized, especially about the 
handling of London s death. Earle Labor said to me about two 



76 



years ago that he d never been able to find out where those 
vials came from. 

Crawford: You are talking about the empty vials found at London s death, 
which gave Stone the idea it was a suicide. Well, Eliza and 
Charmian did not see vials, did they? 

Shepard: No. Earle told me he d looked into it extensively. I know 

that a Japanese houseboy would not destroy those vials, and I 
also know that the morphine was being used by London. 

Two things happened. Where Stone thought London was 
figuring out a lethal dose of medication, they discovered that 
London was figuring out how much in future royalties he was 
going to get, not figuring out a lethal dose. 

If someone s going to commit suicide he doesn t sit down 
and figure out a lethal dose; he fills the whole hypodermic 
needle. 

Crawford: Apparently Dr. Thomson, the attending physician, found vials 
labeled "morphine." Did Stone talk to Dr. Thomson? 

Shepard: When Stone talked to Dr. Thomson, he was an old man at the 

time, and he was teed off with the Shepard family. The reason 
why is that we were all born at the house. One sister and I 



I have Dr. Thomson s middle 



were delivered by Dr. Thomson, 
name, Milo. 

Crawford: You re named after him? 



Shepard: Yes. Dr. Thomson had an old practical nurse--Aunt Tillie was 

his nurse, and when mother went into labor at home, Aunt Tillie 
didn t send for Dr. Thomson. By the time they did get Dr. 
Thomson, Aunt Tillie had delivered Joy, my sister. Dr. Thomson 
took care of my mother and left, and he wouldn t have a thing 
to do with the family. 

It wasn t till 1945 and my sister wanted to get her birth 
certificate to go to Mexico that she went to Dr. Thomson, and 
he said, "Well, I didn t file the birth, I was so mad." 
[laughter] 

There is an article, and I m not sure if it was in the 
Call-Bulletin or the Examiner, but there s an article written 
in 1928, where Dr. Thomson states that Jack London did not 
commit suicide. He was an old man then. 



77 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Then there s a letter from Dr. Porter (London s doctor] to 
Eliza, where Dr. Porter said, "This young fellow by the name of 
Stone has been interviewing me, and he is trying to put words 
in my mouth." I m just paraphrasing this--"and Eliza," he 
said, "you better watch out for this young man." 

So Earle has all this stuff, and has done an awful lot of 
work his whole life on this, and he got on Stone s back, and he 
overdid it. Whenever he d give a speech or a talk or anything, 
he d get off on Stone. One day I said, "Earle," I said, 
"you ve just about worked Stone to death." I said, "People 
don t want to hear any more from you about it." So Earle 
finally said to me one day--he said, "Hey, pal, you re right." 

So that s the way the family has been. In other words, we 
just stay away. But there are so many things it s not just 
what he did to Charmian, but the whole thing with the book. 

The death certificate says uremic poisoning; "uremia following 
renal colic." 

Poisoning, yes. And you read in Charmian s book, "We walked 
him up and down the hall, poured coffee in him, and he was 
paralyzed. Was dragging his left leg, and he was paralyzed on 
the right side." That s a stroke. 

But this is what Charmian had to live with. When Jack 
London died, you have to realize he was a very important man. 
The papers weren t too honest in those days, especially 
Hearst s papers, and George Sterling made a statement to the 
papers, "He committed suicide." 

Why would Sterling say that? 

I don t know the exact reason why Sterling said that, but 
Sterling was close to London, and they discussed suicide. 
Sterling eventually committed suicide at the Bohemian Club. 
There have been psychologists and psychiatrists who ve studied 
everything to the point whereup to the time of London s 
death. 

He d gone to the Hawaiian Islands. The doctor told him not 
to, Porter, and when he came back, the doctor said, "Got to get 
you in the hospital. You re a sick man." You look at his 
pictures, he s all puffy. His kidneys aren t working. And 
what do you get when the kidneys aren t working? You get a 
stroke. That s pretty well accepted by most biographers that 
are on this today. 



78 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford : 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



What do you make of this? I found a copy of The Occult Review 
by Upton Sinclair at the Bancroft. Sinclair was a 
spiritualist, and claims that he had conversations with Jack 
London after London s death, and Jack London told him, "There 



comes a time when you can t go further, 
here." 



I m damned glad to be 



He must have consulted with Charmian about that later, who 
said she distrusted mediums, but Sinclair had described what 
Charmian wore, and she agreed that it was accurate, so perhaps 
she halfway accepted it. 



She was dead, legally dead, but 



They did. Eliza died once, 
she came back. 

How did that happen? 



I forget what it was, but she described what everyone 
describes. My aunt s going to be 100 next month. Eliza would 
never read her hand. She said, "I just see such horrible 
things happening to her." 

When my grandmother Eliza went through the tunnel, she said 
she asked about seeing Jack, and she was told, "Jack has gone 
on. You will never catch up with him." She told us this 
story. Yes, they believed in spiritualism, and Eliza read my 
hand and talked to me and my brother, and she foretold exactly 
what has happened to my aunt, my brother, and me. 

What did she tell all of you? 

Well, in other words, she said, "You re never going to have any 
problems." She said, "You re going to live a good life," which 
anyone can say, but she said, "You ll never have to worry about 
money. You won t have millions, but you ll never have to worry 
about money." My sister, the same way. She wouldn t read my 
sister s hand-- 

And did awful things happen? 

Oh, yes. My sister has been sick her whole life, but she s 
strong. Right now she s seventy-eight years old, and she s a 
nun. She s going in for some shots to block nerves or some 
darn thing that are ruining her legs. She s got both her knees 
changed, and she had a hysterectomy when she was fifteen, went 
blind when she was at Stanford. This teacher was a Catholic 
and got her praying, and her eyesight came back. But all this 
kind of stuff did happen to her. 



79 



My aunt s husband died, her daughter died, and today ray 
aunt doesn t even want to see anyone. She says, "Everyone s 
gone. I ve lived too long." 

Crawford: And your brother. Did she predict his death? 

Shepard: She didn t predict his death, but she didn t see him as having 
a happy life. And he didn t have one--it is very complicated. 
I told you a little bit about him. There s more that occurs 
there. You see, I didn t know ray brothers or sisters. I was 
of the land. I was with the men from the time I was six years 
old. I went up in eastern Oregon, and I got horses. I went on 
the show circuit. 

Crawford: Riding circuit? 

Shepard: Yes. I worked these county fairs and state fairs and stuff. I 
worked on the Ranch. My sisters went to private schools, and, 
as I said, my brother, being four years older, he just had his 
nose in the books the whole time. So I was an oddity. I 
didn t look like them. I had a different build. I was the 
only tall one. I wasn t too good in school. School was always 
a problem. By the time I finished high school, I had A s and 
B s; by the time I finished college, I had A s and B s. When I 
started out, I had C s and D s. I was a slow learner. 
Education didn t come very easily. But responsibility did. I 
was involved in the community. You know, director of this or 
director of that fire department, Sonoma County Grape Growers, 
and involved with things that happened in the valley, and was 
raised to do this. 

Crawford: Let me just ask you a couple more things about what Stone 
describes now. It s fact that Charmian lost a daughter. 

Shepard: Two. 

Crawford: Oh, two? Does he mention two? 

Shepard: I don t know, but she lost two. One lived for three days. One 
was a miscarriage. 

Crawford: What do you think her reaction was to that? Did she long for a 
child? 

Shepard: I think that--yes, she grieved. I think that s why Charmian 

always had a little dog with them wherever they went. That was 
their child. My little sister is named after the one that was 
born, Joy, and she called Joy "my baby." I don t exactly see 
her as any different than any other woman who wanted children 



80 



and was not able to have them. It s like my older son and his 
wife aren t able to have children. They tried every which way, 
and all their love has gone to these animals they have. 

Crawford: It happens. Well, Stone claims that Charmian objected to what 
she called "Jack s philosophic tramps." She apparently didn t 
like some of these people who came up and stayed around. 

Shepard: Well, actually, it wasn t the philosophic tramp that she 

objected to. When you read her diaries, you find out who she 
really objected to. There weren t that many tramps that came 
up. They were here on the Ranch, as I said, for only about 
five years, and in that time they were gone so much. The one 
that she knows is Spiro Orfans, who stayed and stayed, and she 
disliked him because Spiro Orfans and Jack discussed there s a 
series of letters between the two of them, and Spiro Orfans was 
taking Jack away from his work, and Charmian was very 
protective of Jack with something like that. She finally 
caused Orfans to leave, I believe as far as tramps, there 
weren t that many tramps. 

Those people were taken care of by Eliza. This is a hard 
thing to explain to people. I keep repeating myself. But you 
try to write a thousand words or more a dayLondon was on a 
tight schedule, plus all his- -yes, he had people in, but not 
large numbers. Plus all these other activities: his letter 
writing and his preparation for speeches and blah, blah, blah. 
And writing was not easy for him. It was always difficult. 
And that s why this book, The Tools of My Trade, is so 
important. I think Mike Hamilton did an excellent job on it, 
of how he accumulated all this stuff so that he could go to it. 

Crawford: Where his sources were and so on. 
Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: This interested me: her neighbors report that she told--and 
this is in quotes--"She told interminable stories about 
childlike things, trivial things, about her jewels, her antique 
clothes, her little cap. She wanted to be eternally feminine, 
to use her wiles and charms." 

Shepard: What does that mean, the neighbors say this? 

Crawford: No, that s what I wondered. Who were the neighbors? Who might 
Stone have talked to? 

Shepard: Stone talked to Hazen Cowan. That s one of the problems. Russ 
Kingman has the same thing in his tapes at the museum in Glen 



81 



Ellen. It s human nature for someone who s as well known as 
Jack London for people to claim that they know him. I don t 
care--any great personthere s all these damn stories about 
him. A lot of it comes from the help; a lot of it comes from 
neighbors. I don t know whether it s jealousy. 

London wasn t liked too well by people because he had this 
big ranch, because he had so much. And as I said, I had some 
of that when I was a kid during the Depression. You know, 
people were jealous of the position we were in. But we were 
very quiet, lived our lives. Yes, we had our own problems, but 
we didn t discuss them with the neighbors or with anyone. Most 
people thought there was a lot of money. 

People ask me, after Jack London where did the money come 
from. I said there was never much money. Eliza had money, but 
they never lived like millionaires or flouted their money, but 
they always lived like upper-middle income people. 

And also what they did: the lifestyle of Charmian and 
Eliza, like going to the opera, going to the symphonies, 
ballet, involved with the people they were involved with put 
them in a different social position with the locals. 

Crawford: So there might have been quite a bit of envy there. 
Shepard: Yes, there s an awful lot of sour grapes. 

Crawford: And, of course, people would have seen Charmian in the town and 
so on, and so they could make up whatever they wanted to make 
up. 

Shepard: But she was very seldom seen in town. This is why the story 
got started about her living in the house and my father just 
putting the food out for her. 

When she got the car, she d drive around. But we just 
took this as normal. She was ahead of her time. She was very 
proud of her body, and she was very proud of her red hair. And 
the woman who dyed it talked to my mother one day and said she 
had a beautiful head of hair, and I ll try to find a picture. 
"Why don t you talk her into letting it go grey?" So Mother 
did. She said, "Why don t we just have a look at it?" She 
took a look, and, "Oh, it s wonderful." 

Crawford: Oh, so she did. She let it go grey. 



82 



Shepard: Yes, she let it go grey, but she didn t let it go grey until 
she was in her seventies. Hell, I m seventy-five and I m not 
grey yet. I mean, what are you talking about? 

I was told by Andrew Sinclair, who knew some of the people 
that worked with Irving Stone, that he had all these young 
people doing research for him, and then he d put it together. 
Now, I ll give him credit, that what he writes is readable and 
very enjoyable. But for a factual truth, uh-uh. 

Crawford: No. Well, here s another one from Stone: he claims that Jack 
said to Eliza, about Charmian, when they had had some 
encounter, "She is our little child. We must always take care 
of her." 

Shepard: You can interpret that whatever way you want, but I ll tell you 
that Charmian and Eliza loved each other, and they had some 
knock-down drag-out fights, where they both stood up for their 
own opinion, and Eliza wasn t treating her as a child, and 
Charmian wasn t acting like a child. She was acting like a 
mature woman. 

Crawford: Another story is in keeping with Stone s contention that Jack 

wanted to remarry. He wanted to have a child with someone here 
on the Ranch, just to have a child. Now, where would that have 
come from, that story? 

Shepard: I have no idea. I have no idea. As I ve said before, the 

relationship between the twothere are ups and downs, but you 
read Charmian s diaries, Jack didn t have the time to have an 
affair. Charmian was there. They were working together, day 
in and day out, traveling together.- Not that Charmian was 
forcing herself on him; it was that he needed her. She took so 
much off his back, with the typing, getting material, all this. 

Even when they went to Vera Cruz in 1914, they wouldn t let 
a woman on a U.S. Navy ship, so Jack arranged for her to go 
down in some steamer, and he went down on this U.S. Navy ship. 

They were definitely a team. When you read Charmian s 
biography, that is what she tried to put in, that they were a 
team, but he was the leader. Charmian and Eliza were never in 
competition with him. 

I ve mentioned the police officer that s writing a book on 
Charmian and just loves her. Walnut Creek. I allowed him to 
get into the diaries, and he said, "I felt like poking Jack 
London in the nose." London was a difficult man to live with. 
He was very sensitive. He had high highs and low lows. When 



83 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



you live with a person like that, like any other normal family, 
it isn t going to be smooth. They re going to have their 
problems and everything else. But never thought of a divorce, 
never thought of stepping out. 



You ve said there weren t any infidelities, 
documents infidelities. 



Stone also 



Yes, he even has Charmian in the haystack; I think he got that 
from Hazel Cowan. Hazen told me, "I shouldn t say this about 
that old Jew boy," he said, "but I just gave him an earful." 

Stone says that, and this wasn t from Jack London, but that 
"Charmian wouldn t keep house and wouldn t welcome guests," 
that she would just ignore the guests. 

That isn t correct. This starts when Charmian first started 
going out with Jack, and Jack was at that period of his life 
was with a crowd who did heavy drinking, and Charmian saw that 
to survive she had to keep him away, and that s why it s only 
twice they ever went to Carmel. 

People who were creative, people who were, you know, just good 
peopleshe wouldn t kick them off the Ranch. But she would 
kick someone off that tried to get Jack drunk. She wouldn t 
kick them off; she d just tell them, "We will not have this." 
And so I m sure she probably stepped on some people s toes. 
But she didn t kick Spiro Orfans off. 



How about Strawn-Hamilton? 
mentions . 



I think that s the one that Stone 



I don t see the problem there with Strawn-Hamilton. Does Stone 
mention Green? He came- -but he stunk so bad. He didn t 
believe in baths or washing or anything, and he was a 
philosopher, so over in the corner of the Ranch, Jack London 
built this hut and had food brought to him, and he d ride over 
and talk to him and everything else. [laughter] 

These are people he wanted to help with their writing? 

These are people that they were philosophers. Strawn-Hamilton 
was a philosopher. London read extensively, different 
philosophical approaches and the like, different philosophies, 
but he also enjoyed talking to people, and when you read his 
letters, he s using these philosophies in these letters and 
using the subjects that he s writing back and forth to. 



84 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



I m trying to think of the postmaster down there in Arizona 
he corresponded with for so many years. It was quite a 
correspondence. It s in the letters. 

The letters between him and Anna Strunsky are beautiful 
letters. This is why they collaborated on The Kempton-Wace 
Letters, the book, where he took one side and she took the 
other. 

This is what bothers me about today s social life. Those 
people in those days really lived. Men were men and women were 
women, and they have these great discussions on the philosophy 
of life. Well, today it s survival and the environment. There 
isn t much philosophy in life today, when you really look at 
it there s too much materialism today. It s been caused by 
Hollywood; it s been caused by advertising, by TV. 

I was raised on good books. So I think that s a 
difference. And then, as I say, I worked with a lot of 
biographers and people writing about London, and you see a lot 
of that individual in their work. And when you read Sailor on 
Horseback, it s not an honest book. 

Are there other things that I haven t mentioned that you would 
find issue with? 

Well, I really hadn t read the book in so long that I can t 
remember. 

Oh, something I was going to say. I got off on something 
else. I mentioned the Stone collection. I know two or three 
people that got in to see the Stone collectionit was sent to 
UCLA. That is probably one-eighth of the collection. 
Evidently Jean went in and just threw out everything that could 
be documented. You can ask Jacqueline Tavernier about this. 
She once saw the Stone collection, and she said, "What I saw at 
UCLA," she said, "so much of it is missing." 



About London Scholarship 



Crawford: Do you stay close to all the London scholars? 

Shepard: I stay friends with them all. One thing that I found out 

immediately when I got this inheritance, this position, if you 
want to call it that, is the fact that a lot of criticism I 
usually do is factual. In other words, an author comes to me 



85 



and they want to write a life or they want to write a story or 
whatever, or give a paper. They send it to me. I don t 
critique it as to the composition or what it says. All 1 
critique is, say, they say the Wolf House burned in 1912. I 
change that to 1913. I do physical, factual critiques; let 
them know that they made mistakes there. But if they want to 
take an approach I don t agree with, I may write and say, "I 
just don t agree with your approach," but I don t get into 
anything else. 

Crawford: Everybody brings their own sensitivities and perceptions and so 
on to their writing. 

Shepard: But I was amazed how much that shows up in their work. 

Crawford: Well, let me ask you about these acknowledgements in Stone s 
book. I d like mostly to know who of these people are still 
around. "First of all, my greatest debt is to Mrs. Charmian 
Kittredge London and Mrs. Eliza London Shepard," he writes. So 
he acknowledges his debt to both. And then he expresses his 
gratitude to I ll just read last names: Strunsky, of course; 
Atherton, Cloudesley Johns... 

[tape interruption] 



Shepard: 



Stone had access to all these people who knew Jack and was 
involved with Jack, and then for Dr. Porter, who was Jack 
London s doctor, to write to Eliza and say, "This man is trying 
to put words in my mouth; he s a dangerous man," that s what 
bothers me. Go ahead with your list. 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



That s a very significant document, isn t it? 
Thompson that s the doctor? 



Applegarth,- Fred 



No, Fred Thompson is the Thompson diary- -he went through the 
Klondike with London and kept a diary. That diary s at Utah 
State now. 

Finishing the list: Hopper, Martinez, Sinclair, Frolich, 
Morrell, Winship, Lewis, Wilson, Peixotto, Irvine, several 
Hills, Burlingame, Forni, Pyle, Partington, Maclay, Thomson. 
Any of those people or their families still around here? 

I d have to look at it . 
Any Frolichs still around? 

No, there s no Frolichs. Ed Morrell is gone. Janet Winship, 
no. Carrie Burlingame. Forni s son just died here a while 



86 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



ago. Forni was the foreman in the building of the Wolf House. 
Forni said, "I collected all the rags, but," he said, "I didn t 
that night," meaning the rags that they dipped in linseed oil 
to wipe the walls down, put linseed on. So it s pretty certain 
they caught on fire. 

But Forni s son became an inventor, and he made manhole 
covers, he developed the metal manholes for underground 
electrical wires and stuff. He developed those. You see his 
name on them. 

Of course, the Thompsonsthey re all gone. They didn t 
have any children, but a vice president of Standard Oil married 
one of the daughters. They died in the fifties. 

The old senator, Herbert Slater--he was blind. Eliza would 
sort of change her voice and everything, and he d smile and 
he d say, "You can t kid me, Eliza." I was there one time in 
Sacramento with her. 

Celeste Murphy of the Sonoma Index Tribune, and I hunt with 
her nephew. He s older than I am. He s about eighty, and I 
hunt with his kid. In fact, I had lunch with him recently. I 
talked to him about something in the newspaper that was 
incorrect. I said, "You know, they should check things out a 
little bit more." And he said, "You re certainly right." He 
said, "Of course, I didn t know Charmian, and I didn t know my 
aunt and Charmian were close." They both belonged to PEN. 
Charmian helped people, like Jack did, with their writings. He 
was very active with women writers. 

Is there still a local chapter? 

There s going to be a woman here at the symposium who is living 
up in Idaho now, but she belonged to the chapter down in San 
Mateo. There was never a local chapter. There may have been 
one in Santa Rosa, and I think it was in San Francisco. 

Which of the biographies do you consider better than Stone s? 

Oh, there are several. Earle Labor s. Of course, Charmian s. 
Joan s is good, except that she criticized her father. Joan s 
is excellent as far as London s socialism goes. 

I agree. 

It s a very good one. Earle Labor s Twayne biography is very 
good on London. I like Andrew Sinclair s. The rest of them-- 
they re just repeats of Stone s. I even read--oh, what s his 



87 



name?--the state historian s biography of London. It s Just a 
rehash of the same stuff. 

Crawford: Kevin Starr? 

Shepard: That was his dissertation, and he rewrote London, supposedly, 
but he didn t. There s no reason to keep repeating these 
inaccuracies . 

Crawford: Does he come to these symposia? 

Shepard: No. He didn t even come to the Ranch. He got all that from 
reading the other biographies. 

Crawford: He wrote a book and he didn t talk to you? 

Shepard: Well, he was a college student. That was his dissertation. 

But even afterwards, he didn t come to see me. Often an author 
is going along a certain line, and he ll question me about it, 
not using my answer, but it informs his opinion from other 
sources into a central opinion. 

Crawford: Well, that s not what scholarship is about. [laughter] 

Shepard: I m not saying I m 100 percent correct, but sometimes I can be 
outspoken. 

Crawford: I know what you re saying. Well, it s all a matter of 

rationality and balance. But certainly your voice needs to be 
heard, and our hope is that this book will then become a tool 
for scholars, something more to look at. 

Shepard: We ll find out. 




Jack London s parents, Flora Wellman and John London. 





r 







Jack London and Charmian Kittredge around the turn of the century. 




Jack, Charmian, and Nakata on the four-horse trip, Mill Valley, California, 1911. 




Jack London with friend and poet George Sterling, ca. 1915. Photo courtesy Jim Kan tor 




The Londons in the Hawaiian Islands, 1915. 




Jack London and one of his prized Shire horses, at Beauty Ranch, 1915. 




Charmian and "Fleet," Jack, and "Possum." Taken 6 days before he died, in 1916. 




Eliza London Shepard driving the Shire and cart from the Ranch to Santa Rosa, 1916. 



88 



III THE BEAUTY RANCH 

[Interview A: September 27, 2000] it 

Chinese and Italian Workers; the Barns and the Piggery 



Crawford: We have been talking about the Ranch, and the lake as it was 
when it was Beauty Ranch. 

Shepard: To bring water into the lake and from the lake down to the 

whole irrigation system in the fields, there are drain pipes. 
They re still there. 

Crawford: How much water is there in the lake itself? 

Shepard: Well, about five acres. Yes, five acres surface. I don t know 
how deep. We kept it clean. Now it s all filled with reeds 
and tules. 

Crawford: What a shame. It would be nice if there were swimming lakes 
for the public. 

Shepard: Well, they can t do that because of the hazard. They d have to 
have a lifeguard and all that kind of thing. 

Crawford: It s just as well, then, because it is on state park property. 

Shepard: Yes. But it sort of bothers me. The dam leaks water, and 
they ve allowed blackberries to grow up in there. You Just 
can t allow that sort of thing to happen. You know, I m a 
farmer and you take care of your property. It really hurts 
when you see it not being taken care of. 

Crawford: Well, we ll get to that issue in more detail. I wanted to ask 
you what you know of the workers here during Jack London s 

time. 



89 



Shepard: Most of the workers during Jack London s time were Italians. 
Some were from Tuscany, northern Italy. They knew rock work. 
They knew vineyards. 

Crawford: Where did he find them? 

Shepard: They moved in in the late 1800s, and they worked these mines to 
make cobblestones for streets in San Francisco, and then when 
macadam came, they started paving instead of using the 
cobblestones. These people lived here, and some of them bought 
land and some of them, like Sebastiani, became very successful 
with his winery in Napa and Sonoma, so you had a ready labor 
pool. You didn t have Chinese. The Chinese no longer were in 
the area. 

Crawford: But the Chinese built some of the barns on the Ranch, didn t 
they? 

Shepard: Let s see. In 1860 or something, when they put the 

transcontinental railroad through, they imported all these 
Chinese, and after that was finished, they came up in this area 
and built the stone barns, and they were cellar bosses for the 
wineries. 

Crawford: Cellar bosses? 

Shepard: Yes. In other words, they racked the wine and took care of 

cellars. Then, when the Italians came in, they took over their 
work, and most of the Chinese left. Some of them became 
farmers, but very few. 

Crawford: The Chinese built the sherry barn? 

Shepard: That s correct. 

Crawford: And the Italians built the horse barns. When were those built? 

Shepard: The horse barn was built about 1914, and the sherry barn was 
built in 1884. 

Crawford: And it s interesting that up there on the farm you see how the 
Chinese did the smooth-rock workings. 

Shepard: Yes, they shaved the rocks. The Italians just placed the rock. 
But like the pigpen--it is beautiful rock work. 

Crawford: Let s talk about the piggery, because London was proud of that 
as I remember. 



90 



Shepard: Yes. It was very functional. Some people said it was a 

complete failure. As I mentioned before, cholera came through. 
Eliza was able to get the pigs all vaccinated for it. However, 
they did have contagious pneumonia, a disease that was rampant 
in agriculture in those days. When you had something like that 
go through your livestock, why, you didn t have penicillin; you 
didn t have treatments for it, and so you lost them. 

There were other diseases, such as rinderpest, which is 
similar to hoof-and-mouth disease. To get into the area, you 
had to walk through carbolic acid, and you had a big long tank 
called sheep dip tanks that the animals went through 
periodically to detick them and protect them from sleeping 
sickness and various other diseases. 

But he was right at the cutting edge of using veterinarians 
and getting information how to keep the livestock alive. 

Crawford: There was an article from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that 
made fun of London, saying it was the Palace Hotel for pigs. 

Shepard: Oh, that. [laughs] But it was very functional. The feed 

house was two stories, and the feed was put up in bins in the 
upper story, and all he had to do was pull a lever. Had a 
stove so that he could heat the water and build a little fire 
in there, a coil--sort of like a flash heater, and then mix it. 
There were doors on either side so that he didn t have to walk 
all the way around. Feed half out of one door and half out of 
the other door. It was all drained and fixed so that it could 
be hosed out every day. The farrowing (birthing) pens had iron 
pipes up about eight inches, eight or ten inches, out from the 
wall, so that when the sow lay down she wouldn t crush the 
little ones against the wall. The little ones had space. 

After the contagious pneumonia, why, they built large 
wooden platforms to put in the pen. This is just a cement and 
rock pen, and then from that, they could put two pens together, 
but they had runs so the pigs could be outside. 

Crawford: Whom did London consult with about the livestock? 

Shepard: On the livestock, he consulted professors. If a man was in 
animal husbandry, why, he would know, say, hogs and horses. 
Some of them were specialists in horses, and some were 
specialists in hogs. Some knew about both; animal breeding is 
pretty much the same. And he d get recommendations, just like 
Chester White hogs were recommended, and then the sun burned 
them, and they said it was a failure. Well, it wasn t. He 
just got rid of them, sold them, and he bought some Duroc 



91 



Jerseys, which are red, and the sun wouldn t sunburn them. In 
that picture over at the museum, that s a little Duroc Jersey 
that he s holding up. 

Crawford: He wrote a nice letter to Charmian, saying, "We had seven snow- 
white pigs. Signed, Your Man." 

Shepard: He had to get rid of those. Those were Chester White pigs he 
was talking about, not the Duroc Jerseys. Below the pigpen- - 
you can walk into it--is a beautiful little stone building. 
It s the smokehouse. He smoked all the hams and bacons and 
things for the men. 

Crawford: What was the bull exerciser? 

Shepard: Well, that s still there, except the fence around it isn t 

there, but we re all mammals, and if you just sit around all 
day, especially with bulls and stallions, they become what you 
call shy breeders. They just lose interest in breeding. So 
you exercise them. You can t turn a bull or a stallion out 
free to run around, so they just hook four bulls together, and 
they just walk around in a circle to exercise them. That was 
the reason behind that. 

How are all these buildings holding up? 

The silos are in good shape; the barns are in good shape. The 
only one that fell was done by Kohler & Frolich in the 1870s, 
the cooperage, and that was done out of material mined on the 
Ranch, and water got to it--volcanic tuff--and water got to it 
and it fell down. Jack London made that into his blacksmith 
shop. 

Crawford: He brought the blacksmith shop up, didn t he, from Glen Ellen? 

Shepard: He bought it from my grandfather, who operated the blacksmith 
shop in Glen Ellen. My mother s father. My son fixes wagons 
now, makes wheels, makes wagons, still using the same anvil my 
grandfather had--my grandfather sold to London. 

Crawford: Where is all that equipment? 

Shepard: Over here in the barn. It s on the Ranch. What s left of the 
Ranch. 

Crawford: There s an interesting letter to Charmian about the Ranch, in 
which he says, "The Ranch is my. problem" --underlined four 
times. I think she was maybe saying she didn t want all the 
guests all the time. Whoever this guest was, London wrote: "It 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 



92 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 



gives me more pleasure than all the inefficient Italian 
laborers." Was that really what he felt? He said that 
somebody named Strawn-Hamilton "gives me more pleasure than all 
the Italian laborers put together." 

That s because Strawn-Hamilton was a philosopher that sat and 
discussed things. He s talking about two different things. 
I ve tried to emphasize that London didn t have much to do with 
the hired people. That was Eliza s job. London didn t have 
much to do with those Italian laborers. He d see them and say 
hello, and that was it. In other words, his time was too 
valuable to be spent that way. So when a statement like that 
is made, in my mind, it s just that he doesn t have anything to 



relate to, talking to them in Italian, 
derogatory about them. 



Not that he s being 



This same letter goes on to say that Ninetta and Eliza "never 
helped me. I lost much more on them than all the meals and 
beds I ve given to my bums." This is a letter to Charmian, 
dated 1912. 



Shepard: That was when he was sick. It s been described at different 

times, but that was during, I believe, his sick period. He was 
having all kinds of problems. I keep saying this, and I don t 
quite know how to put it, but when you work on London, you have 
to take a lot of what he says with a grain of salt. 

He was so sensitive that if he pricked himself with a pin, 
it was like sticking a sword through him. To describe it. He 
had to be careful. Of course, Aunt Netta. She cost him more 
money. In fact, she probably stole some money or material for 
her own use. 



Ninetta Eames; Aunt Netta 



Crawford: Let s talk about her. She was Charmian s aunt. 

Shepard: I m sort of surprised he said Eliza. I guess he threw everyone 
in who was ever involved. 

Crawford: That s clearly not true of Eliza. But he said so in that 
letter. 

Shepard: Yes. What do you want to know about Netta? I don t know too 
much about Netta. 



93 



Crawford: He got at one point very angry with her. She said he wasn t 
taking care of Channian, and I guess she wanted to sell Wake 
Robin? 

Shepard: She did, eventually. 

Crawford: She complained that they dammed up Grand Canyon to divert water 
to the Jack London Lake. 

Shepard: Yes, that s what I was talking about. 

Crawford: That s what you were talking about, that that would hurt the 

sale of Wake Robin? I guess London assumed Wake Robin would go 
to Charmian, and he had, in Charmian s honor, lifted all these 
mortgages that he had: two Berkeley houses, two Oakland houses, 
the California Wine Association farmhouse, and so on. And he 
said, "Furthermore, Charmian has five servants and says she 
needs more shoes." [laughs] 

I think they were on the Snark at that point. Netta 
complained of not making enough wages to live and he told her 
to dip into his account in Oakland, which she did, she spent a 
lot on doctors and personal things, and then stopped sending 
him monthly accounts, is that right? 

Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: Did they use Wake Robin as their honeymoon cottage? 

Shepard: Jack had one cottage there they called Jack s Cottage that 

Nakata lived and slept in and Jack wrote in. Again, you have 
to know the time. It sounds as if that s being written about 
1916. 

Crawford: Nineteen fifteen, yes. 

Shepard: Yes. I don t know the exact dates, but I think around 1905 
Jack built an annex on Wake Robin they called the Annex, and 
that s where he and Charmian went after they were married, and 
lived. They traveled an awful lot, and were gone, but they did 
use Wake Robin until they moved into the cottage here in 1911. 

Crawford: So Wake Robin was never part of the Ranch. 

Shepard: Wake Robin was never part of the Ranch, never owned by Jack 
London. 



Crawford: Where does it stand now? 



Shepard: It s all been cut up. Jack s cottage is all changed. The land 
has been split off into two pieces. Wake Robin is one, and all 
these cottages- -Wake Robin had a series of summer cottages and 
tent cottages are another. 

Crawford: Where is that on this map? 

Shepard: Let s see. It s right next to the La Motte place and the Fish 
Ranch. It was never part of the Ranch. 

Crawford: Is that privately owned? 
Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: Well, in this letter of June 1916, at the end of explaining to 
Netta how well he was doing by Charmian, who had five servants 
and needed more shoes, he said, "I do not want Wake Robin. It 
is too pitiable." 

Shepard: Well, it was run down. 



Crawford: The letter implied that Netta was asking too much; it seemed 
like that. 

Shepard: Well, certainly. Hell, by the time Netta died, Charmian was 
giving her money. During the big Depression, when money was 
tight. Let s see, Netta [married Roscoe] Eames, and then she 
married Edward Payne. She got married--! forget how old she 
was, in her seventies or something. And I don t know what 
happened to the Overland Monthly. 

According to Stone it folded. Stone also says that Netta and 
Payne had built Wake Robin as a place for revival meetings 
while living in the city and working at the magazine that 
Payne was a maverick preacher. 

Wake Robin was an investment for her. She owned the Overland 
Monthly. She was an urban person, but in that time, in the 
summer, those cabins and everything were all filled because of 
the railroad trains. People would come up and use this area. 
That s why Glen Ellen had eleven bars and seven hotelsor 
thirteen bars and seven hotels. Two trains would come up to 
Glen Ellen or to the Sonoma Valley for these fraternal picnics, 
for the day. 

Crawford: Did the Ranch supply vegetables or anything like that to the 
hotels? 



Crawford : 



Shepard: 



Shepard: No. 



95 



Crawford: I wondered, because in The Valley of the Moon, Mrs. Mortimer 
says they sold "vegetables to three hotels in Glen Ellen and 
the resorts and then sent capons to San Francisco." 

Shepard: Well, they could have. They could have, but not in the 

commercial sense. My dad grew potatoes down here at one time. 
There was a gardenbut even today, like these tomatoes--! took 
some down to this grocery store, because people like them 
freshly picked. 

Crawford: Oh, they re wonderful. When will you bring more of those in? 
Shepard: Getting towards the end, though. 

Crawford: Another note about Netta--! gather that Netta had power of 

attorney while London was aboard the Snark, spent wildly and 
literally bankrupted London as well as persuading him to hire 
Earaes for the voyage and Eames knew nothing about sailing. 

Shepard: Yes. 



London s Dream for Beauty Ranch 



Crawford: Well, let s conclude this part. You ve already said that 
London had five years here to develop the Ranch. Was he 
satisfied with his agrarian dream, do you think? 

Shepard: Oh, certainly. He had to be. He was still expanding on it. 
As I said, he was going to build a schoolhouse. The night 
before he died, he was discussing with Eliza. He was looking 
to buy more land. 

Crawford: He wrote to Eliza from the Snark that he planned to build a 
schoolhouse, and a post office? 

Shepard: I forget what it was. 

Crawford: Eliza wrote in 1917, "He would have accomplished his plan had 
he lived, for his enthusiasm was unquenchable. His intense 
energy simply rioted in work." 

Shepard: Yes. He was so far ahead of himself. I shouldn t say ahead of 
himself, but his thinking was so far ahead that they said, 
"You re crazy. You can t do this." 



96 



There was discussion whether you could treat a pregnant 
woman such that when the baby was born it could talk. It was a 
time of great thinking, and when you really read the materials 
produced in London s time, a lot of it was laughed at--not only 
by London but by others. But out of that came so much of the 
development of the United States, and London was at the 
forefront of it and involved with it. There s no doubt in my 
mind. 

The only problem I could see is that he fought the idea of 
a tractor. He didn t like the idea of mechanization on the 
Ranch. And his thinking on that is the way I think or people 
think about India. If they ever mechanized India there 
wouldn t be enough work for all the people. 

London lived in a period of time of unemployment, and he 
could see that the tractor would take out all the horses, all 
the work that was being done to raise crops and feed animals-- 
the human element kept that production going. In London s 
times about 75 percent of the people were involved in 
agriculture. Today in the United States it s probably 5 
percent. That s what he was afraid of. 

Crawford: How many people worked here? 



Shepard: 



When London was here? There were various numbers. I d have to 
ask Earle Labor. He s figured it out exactlyat various 
times. I would say there were twenty-five, thirty. 



Crawford: Full-time employees. 

Shepard: Full-time employees. And then at other times there would be 

sort of share workers that would come in and pick things, pick 
grapes, pick prunes, or cut wood. 

Crawford: We talked about the fact that he hired ex-convicts from San 
Quentin. There s a letter from Eliza, saying that he 
instructed her, "Don t ever turn anyone away." 

Shepard: That could be true. 

Crawford: Would that mean just people passing by she d give them a meal 
and offer them some work? 



Shepard: That s part of it. I don t think it ever became a problem, 
never heard Gramma or anyone say there was any problem. 

Crawford: Do you remember that as a child? 



97 



Shepard: Oh, yes, yes. There were all these people in the kitchen that 
were fed. They weren t fed in the kitchen; they were fed out 
in the workmen s place. And they d stay a day or two, and some 
were given work. But you didn t have that many. Most of them 
would just have a meal and leave--! d say 99 percent of them. 
They weren t interested in working. 

Crawford: But she d give them a try. 

Shepard: If they wanted to work, she d give them a try, that s right. 

Crawford: And where was the cookery? 

Shepard: The main kitchen for the London dining room was in the stone 

building, but there were the guest rooms, a carriage house, and 
then Eliza s office, and then all the rooms down there were for 
the working men, and there was a kitchen down there. 

Crawford: It was below the cottage. 

Shepard: Just across. 

Crawford: Across from the cottage, yes. 

Shepard: In other words, you walked across the street and you re right 
there. Underneath the winery was all for storage. 

Crawford: I want to read what Charmian wrote after London s death. 

"Have any of you thought what is to become of the great thing 
he has started up here? I beg you now with all my heart not to 
let the world forget that he laid his hand upon the hills of 
California with the biggest writing of all his writing and 
imagination and wisdom." What happened then? 

Shepard: You have to realize it was very complicated for Charmian 

because Jack London was a very controversial figure when he 
died. He was a very popular figure. And after he died, all 
these stories started coming out and all this sort of thing. 
Charmian finally just wrote her biography and it was published 
in 1921, and she was really trying to show what this man, Jack 
London, was. Well, it didn t come off. 

So Charmian just pulled back and then Stone did his book, 
but she didn t allow anyone to work on any of his papers or 
anything like that. It was because of what was said, all this 
bit, and it comes all the way down to today. So you ve got 
that side of it. 



98 



Then you ve got the financial side. The Depression started 
in 1921 for the farms, and 1929, which hit everything, all the 
way up to World War II. Then you had the popularity of Jack 
London and the income from royalties, a scale going up and 
down. 

And then you have the Ranch itself, which does not lend 
itself to be an economic profit-maker. Today it is because of 
the price of grapes--the grapes are making money. The dairy 
made money, run by my brother and I, and we made a living off 
of it. 

But you ve got all this other acreage on the Ranch you re 
paying taxes on and you re drained. But it was held together 
by both Charmian and Eliza, and it has been preserved. That s 
all I can say. 



Irving Shepard; Ranch Management. 1934-1974. Film Rights, and 
the Guest Ranch 



Crawford: When did your father take over? 

Shepard: My father took over when he came back from World War I. 



Shepard: He did a lot of physical work and other things like taking 
Eliza places. He was involved with American Legion, with 
Eliza, but he operated the Ranch. 

Crawford: What do you mean by the American Legion? 

Shepard: I meant the American Legion, going all over with parades. 

Eliza was a national president of the auxiliary, and my dad was 
a commander. The post was named after Jack London. But I can 
remember as a little kid in the thirties going to all these 
parades down in San Francisco. 

When the fleet came in, why, we always would be guests at 
some captain s dinner or something. You know, the various 
functions. The Londons were always involved in that, and so 
was Eliza--like the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition- -they were 
involved down there in Sacramento with state fairs and things. 

I ll tell you a funny little story. Dad was up here in 
Sacramento with the horses, and Eliza was going to take 



99 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Charmian and my dad out to dinner. Charmian wanted to go on 
this airplane flight, so she got in the airplane, and Eliza 
told Dad, and he said, "Oh, my God. That guy was just over 
here. He borrowed some baling wire to tie that airplane 
together." [laughter] 

I think Dad was fourteen or something. Anyway, the next 
year, down at the Pan-Pacific thing, why, the fellow saw Dad at 
Crissy Field, and he took Dad for a ride. The next day he 
crashed the airplane and killed himself. It was one of those 
old World War I planes-- 

So I got off the subject telling the story. You were 
asking about- - 

Just asking what were the major changes that your father 
implemented. 

In 1934 Dad took over the Ranch, really. Eliza was starting to 
slip. As I remember, around 1934, Eliza came up and stayed at 
the cottage, but she was more of a hostess, and Dad was taking 
over. He was starting to make film contracts with Hollywood. 

Talk about the early movies a bit, and what his part was. 

Jack London signed an agreement in 1913 with H. M. Horkheimer 
and Sidney Ayres of the Balboa Amusement Company for "Jack 
London s Adventures in the South Seas"--it s been lost. They 
were supposed to do several and didn t, so he went with Hobart 
Bosworth, an actor, and D. W. Griffith directed the 1913 "Sea 
Wolf," which was the first full-length film. There have been 
several of those. Edward G. Robinson s was wonderful; Anthony 
Quinn s was terrible. Bosworth, Inc., had exclusive rights. 
Balboa sued Jack London, and London won. 

Regarding my father, that s complicated. There were so 
many lawsuits and such. When Dad got into it, they wanted to 
change everything, some of the titles of books. They changed 
the names for motion pictures. They still do it todayall 
kinds of things like that. 

Why would they do it? 

They were all B movies, B-type movies. There were some good 
ones: "Martin Eden" and others that were done in the early 
forties. "The Life of Jack London," 1942, wasn t too hot. 

They did a television series, Captain Grief series, and 
this one fellow sewed it up. He sewed up Desi Arnaz and 



100 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Lucille Ball, he sewed up Judy Garland, too. There were big 
lawsuits and that kind of thing was happening. 

Who was he? 

A tough businessman. Bronston. He made "El Cid." He was the 
director-producer of "El Cid," and he cleaned off I think $90 
million in Spain and never came back. He was so well known 
that he even had his picture in the front of Time. 

So your father had to apply for rights. 

Yes. But no one knew exactly what the rights were because when 
you gave an option, they immediately filed that they owned the 
property and would have it copyrighted. And then, when you 
started tracing it--it became a big, big mess. 

Your father spent a good deal of time on this? 

I did, too, getting it straightened out after my dad died. 

Did you feel they shortchanged the Jack London estate? 

Oh, it was actual theft. 

Piracy. 

It wasn t piracy where they took something and used it. Part 
of it was they didn t pay for it. Some of it they paid for; 
some they didn t. Some claimed that they controlled all of 
London s stuff when they didn t, because in the contract it was 
written that if you don t produce so many [films] each year, 
why, the contract becomes null and void. 

We had a good attorney. He was able to straighten out the 
Judy Garland and Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball problem with this 
man. 



What did you grant? 
company? 



Exclusive rights to one producer, one 



Shepard: Yes, that s right, and he was supposed to produce so much every 



year--so many TV programs and all these things, and then he 
tried to hold onto it, without producing anything. 

What company was it? 

I forget what the heck it was now. He was a producer, and he 
might have used different companies like Fox or MGM; use 



101 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



different production companies. This is what is done today. 
They always wanted options. One producer had an option for 
thirty years on The Star Rover. He never made it. They d try 
and tie something up and then find someone to do it. This is 
the way it works . 

And so your involvement with this goes on today? 

Not anymore, because everything is public domain now. 

Did it help the family during the Depression? 

Yes, they had some revenue. I think they sold the Jack London 
rights for $25,000, which was a lot of money in those days. 

Did they do the television documentaries? 

No, they did short stories. But a lot of income came from book 
publishing, a lot in Europe. As I said, I just gave an edition 
of Charmian s biography to this German woman, who said it was 
so beautiful. "I haven t seen German written this way in 
years." It was translated in 1928. 

In a sense, more money was made in Europe than in the 
United States. I don t know for sure, but when I came aboard 
in 1975, you know there s a copyright law, and they decided to 
rewrite it, and they froze all the copyrights as of 1960. It 
wasn t till 1980 that the new copyright law was established, so 
everything that was in copyright in 1960 continued on copyright 
another twenty years, even though under the old system it would 
have been public domain. This kept London works in copyright 
in 1960 in copyright twenty years longer. 



That s interesting, 
guest ranch. 



Well, your father must have started the 



That was done by Eliza and my father. Eliza, as I said, came 
up from her placebut my father ran it. In other words, saw 
that it was operating. They had to put bathrooms in all the 
guest rooms, and they built three cabins, and bought a lot more 
horses and that sort of thing. My father ran the guest ranch. 

And was it successful? 

I don t think they made too much money, but at least they 
weren t feeding all these people coming up here. 



Crawford: Oh, they were charging now! 



102 



Shepard: Well, yes. A lot of people came--they had six rooms and three 
cabins. It was a money-maker. You could get a cabin for one 
night and three meals and it was ten dollars. 

Crawford: That was a lot of money in 1935? 

Shepard: Well, I guess they raised it a little bit after World War II, 
but they closed it right after that. 



Gifts of Ranch Property to the State of California 



Crawford: Well, let s go here to the state park, the first gift made in 
1959, and talk about that. Who determined that? That must 
have been your father. 

Shepard: That was my father, and he gave the state the Wolf House ruins, 
the grave, Charmian s House of Happy Walls, and the state 
bought the acreage between them, and I think it was fifteen 
acres, the first bit. 

Then they bought, oh, a little acreage below Charmian s 
house. I guess they bought a total of maybe four acres, over 
the years, to square things off. And then, when my father died 
in 1975, why, the state wanted the whole Ranch, so I was able 
to keep out close to 200 acres, and I negotiated with them. 

There were two separate areas: one was the cottage and all 
the buildings around the pig pen. I forget what year that was, 
say 77, 78, somewhere in there. And then in 78 they took 
the upper part of the Ranch going up to the top of the 
mountain. Made the state park about 1,000 acres. Those are 
sort of rough figures. 

Crawford: How is that managed, then, when there s an outright gift and 
additional purchases? 

Shepard: They purchased, and we gave some. These are accounting things. 
Actually, our inheritance tax on my Dad s estate was very high. 

When London died, everything went to Charmian, and then 
when Charmian died in 1955 she left everything to my father. 
But what she did is she had it registered in the county clerk, 
and so upon her death, why, it was recorded. So everything my 
father inherited, as far as his estate was concerned, was in 
1939 prices. He died in 1975, so you can see we had a heck of 
a lot of money we had to come up with in nine months. That s 



103 



when we went to the state, and we made arrangements to give 
them some, sell them some. 

Crawford: You more or less had to do that. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. I could have turned around and made all sorts of 

money selling it for subdivisions. I was executor. But that 
wasn t right to do. 

Crawford: That wasn t right to do, but were there demands to do it? Was 
there interest? There must have been interest. 

Shepard: Oh, yes, definitely. 
Crawford: People approached you. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. Even today, I m approached all the time to sell. But 
I had just one meeting with the state. I said, "This is it. 
We ve got to come to some arrangement. Otherwise, there s a 
large bill to pay Uncle Sam," and there was no question about 
it. We worked together, and we got it done. 

The interesting thing is that they had it appraised, and we 
had it appraised, and we came within $10,000 of each other, the 
two appraisals. 

Crawford: Really? What was the figure? 

Shepard: I forget what it was. They were appraising two different 
things. But where I had the problem was the federal 
government. When Joan London died, she had a few of Jack s 
[personal] articles, and they were sold. Very little of 
London s stuff ever got out of the family, and when that was 
sold it went for a high price. 

So all this material my dad had on loan with the state and 
everythingalmost everything in the House of Happy Wallswas 
still in my dad s name. Things on loan down at the Huntington 
were still in my dad s name, and they appraised it all. And 
the federal referee wouldn t accept it. Had to appraise it 
three times. 

Finally I told her, "If all this material is taken out and 
put in auction you re going to get about two cents on the 
dollar. There aren t that many Jack London collectors. The 
reason why it s so valuable is the fact that none of it has 
gotten out." So she finally accepted the appraisal. It was 
because she was using Joan London s figures for an artifact, 
say, a couple of spears that she maybe she got two hundred 



104 



dollars for. But there may be two or three hundred of them 
sitting over there in the museum! 

Crawford: Is that a fact? 

Shepard: Yes. The amount of material those two collected is really 

amazing. They didn t get one thing. Jack London had boxes of 
these pocket knives. He bought everything in numbers. 

Crawford: You don t get that feeling when you re going through the museum 
so much. 

Shepard: No, but if you go downstairs and see what they ve got 

downstairs. They ve got saddleshe bought I don t know how 
many from the prisoners up in Carson City out of horsehair, 
bridles and reins and halters. They made and sold them. 

Crawford: And he took the time to go up there to help them? 

Shepard: No, he didn t take the time to go up there to help them; he 
just bought them from them. He helped the prisoners with 
money. Carson City was a rough prison. 

Crawford: Were there other charity efforts like that? 

Shepard: I can t think of any right now. I know that was one of them. 
He always helped. A man he was taken by was Ed Morrell, who 
was in The Star Rover. 

Crawford: He had been in San Quentin and London worked for his pardon? 

Shepard: Yes. 1 remember meeting Ed Morrell. And then I met this man 

who was working on Ed Morrell, who was a prison psychologist or 
something. He was interested in the man. He said, "What did 
you think of Ed Morrell?" And I said, "Well, he tried to con 
Jack London." I said, "They finally ran him off the Ranch." 

Ed Morrell s wife wrote the book The Twenty-First Man, but 
he was an illiterate. He could barely sign his name. But he 
tried to get money from Eliza and Charmian for some gold mine 
down in Arizona, as I remember. He visited the Ranch, and then 
he threatened to sue because Jack London used him as a 
character in The Star Rover. 

Crawford: He was just after money? 

Shepard: Yes, he was after money. Anyway, this psychologist said, "You 
hit him right. He was a con man." 



105 



Crawford: Want to say something more about the state and the property? 

You said when they were approached about creating a state park, 
they didn t take to the idea because Jack London was so 
controversial. 

Shepard: In those days, the acquisition of state parks was done by the 
park commission, who had all the power. Leo Carrillo voted 
against it. He said, "We don t want to have a state park for a 
Communist." This was in the late fifties, early sixties. No, 
that was during that McCarthy era. You can understand this. 
So they turned the park down, and then Senator Abshire, who was 
a friend of my father, had a bill passed by the legislature. 

So the state park system had to take it. My fatherwhat 
was he going to do with a house like that? It was filled with 
all kinds of stuff. As I said, a 25,000-book library was in 
there, in a 15,000-square-foot house. He could have sold it, 
but again, he was trying to hold some of this stuff together. 

Crawford: You mentioned the death tax and the legislation that President 
Clinton vetoed was something that hurts the farmers. 

Shepard: Yes. It s politics. It was vetoed because it was said the 

Republicans wanted to end the death tax--the 2 percent of the 
wealthiest people in the United States. That s malarkey. That 
2 percent of the wealthiest people in the United States have 
got that all taken care of. They re not going to pay the taxes 
anyway. You don t see the Fords or any of these very wealthy 
people paying- -that s why they ve got their good accountants 
and attorneys. 

But you ve got a little farmer that s got 1,000 acres in 
the Midwest and the value of that land goes up, and he s just 
making $50,000 a year to live on, and if you ve got to pay all 
those inheritance taxes, you ve got to sell. 

Crawford: Is that happening a great deal among small farmers? 
Shepard: It s happening all the time. It s sad. 
Crawford: And they sell to developers? 

Shepard: No, they usually sell to corporate farms. That s why you have 
fewer and fewer and fewer farmers . Look at the San Joaquin 
Valley. They re being sold every year to corporate farms. 
It s happening in our industry here. Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood 
Vineyards. They re all owned by large corporations now. They 
sold them last year. Beringer sold. Up in Mendocino County, 
Fetzer-- anyway, Glen Ellen sold. 



106 



Crawford: And that s not because the heirs aren t interested but because 
they can t afford to keep the land in operation. 

Shepard: Economics change. And today a farm just doesn t fit into the 
modern way of modern economics and tax structure and the way 
everything is constructed. It s like Benziger had Glen Ellen 
Winery, which was really a buy-wine-and-bottle-it operation, 
but it got to the point at which they could expand, but they 
couldn t borrow any more money to keep growing, so whhst, they 
sold it. And they get big money. Eighty million dollars for a 
bottling wine. What they bought was the name. 

Crawford: So they have their vineyard, still? 
Shepard: They only had seventy acres of vineyard. 
Crawford: That s right below you here. 

Shepard: Yes. They only had seventy acres of vineyard there, but they 
produced three million cases of wine a year. They bought all 
the wine from down the San Joaquin Valley. 

Crawford: Oh, they bought it and bottled it. 

Shepard: And bottled it. Most of these wineries don t make their own 
wine. 

Crawford: They don t. They buy grapes elsewhere, don t they? 

Shepard: No, no, they don t even make their own wine. Their wine is 
made commercially and then they bottle it. Take Hacienda. 
That s owned by Bronco. It used to be a little winery here in 
Sonoma. It said Sonoma Valley on the label. Now it says 
California. And they sell maybe a couple of million cases of 
that. It s all from the San Joaquin Valley. But they re using 
that label. Bronco got in trouble with Napa Ridge. The ABTF 
[Alcoholic Beverages, Tobacco & Firearms, a federal agency] 
finally said, "That s enough of that." They made you think 
that wine came from Napa, and it didn t. 

II 

Shepard: I wanted to mention something about Rose Wilder Lane to you. 

She wanted to get into the Utah State archives. She d been up 
to Huntington, but she wanted Charmian s material. Rose Wilder 
Lane, who was married to the Lane who was publisher of Sunset. 
They serialized a biography of Jack London--! think it was in 
1918--and she wanted to publish this book, and Charmian stopped 
it. 



107 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



My father told me that Charmian stopped it because it was 

written on the basis of her visit at the Ranch with her parents 

and had all the stuff about riding with Jack London and talking 
to him, and she was only four years old! [laughter] 

Doesn t make sense, doesn t it? 

She probably would never have been able to get it published 
anyway, except that her husband owned Sunset. He was 
publishing Sunset. 



More about London s Agrarian Dream 



Crawford: Let s get started. This morning I wanted to talk more about 
the Ranch and more about Jack London s agrarian dream here. 
You re a farmer yourself. I hope you can talk about this 
subject historically. 

Shepard: Well, where to start? Again, I keep referring to the fact that 
this was done in five years, and he got the idea in Korea to 
put in an irrigation system with the farm pond up high, because 
the Ranch rises in elevation from about 300 feet up to 2,300 
feet. And by putting the pond about 200 feet higher than the 
distant fields, why, he was able to irrigate various crops and 
things. Again, in the short period of time. He had the rock 
crusher and the forms built, built the silos. Those were used 
just probably two or three years. 

You had rapid change after World War I in agriculture with 
the advent of trucks and trucking, where the farmer didn t have 
to grow everything on the Ranch. Some of the fields London had 
grew just hay. He grew some prunes. He worked with Luther 
Burbank on the prunes. He worked with Burbank on spineless 
cactus, which over the years--. 

Crawford: That would have been cattle food. 

Shepard: That would have been cattle food. But his irrigated fields--he 
first put in corn, and then he could get corn cheaper 
delivered, and then he put in alfalfa, and he grew alfalfa. 
Then eventually went back to just growing corn because he could 
get alfalfa cheaper. The collecting of effluent from the 
dairy, putting it into a waterway and out on the fields that 
was new. The use of manure. He worked with Professor Larkin 
and other professors at UC Davis. 



108 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 



Shepard: 
Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



So these were new ideas. There s a letter about a cholera 
epidemic that went through the hogs in California, and Eliza, 
because of his working with Larkin, was able to get vaccine. 
She got vaccine up at Davis and inoculated the hogs and saved 
them all. 

I read that she took courses in agriculture at UC. 

I don t know. I never heard that. But she could have. 

I read that in Jack London s Ranch Album. 1 

Of course, my father went to Davis. But I don t know if Eliza 
did. 

Did your father take a full course? 

Yes, he was there until 1916, and then when London died, why, 
he came back to the Ranch and then in 1917 went into the first 
World War. 

Let me back up a little bit, Milo, and read something from 
Valley of the Moon, just to get your ideas about it. This was 
Jack London s book about the Valley of the Moon. He described 
what I think must be a description of the Ranch. Quote, 
"Across sheer ridges of mountains separated by deep green 
canyons and broadening down into rolling oak, orchards and 
vineyards, they caught their first sight of Sonoma Valley and 
the wild mountains that rimmed its eastern side." Does that 
sound like this topography to you? 

Yes. The original Ranch was 1,400 acres. He bought seven 
ranches to make the one. However, as an agriculture entity, it 
was almost impossible to make money on it at that time. 

Yes. He referred to the fact that the ranches were bankrupt, 
that he was buying these bankrupted properties, and his idea 
was to-- 

They were worn out. 

Who wore them out? Was it the Italians? 

No, no, no. This is long before the Italians. They were owned 
mainly by Scotch-Irish, who were originally homesteaders: the 



Heritage Publishing Company, 
Association, 1985. 



Valley of the Moon Natural Historic 



109 



Cowans, the Crilleys; and then they were bought up by other 
people. Went through several hands before London got hold of 
them. But there was no replenishing of the soil, and so that s 
what you call worn out. 

The Ranch itself had very little agriculture land on it 
that you could work because, as he described it, you ve got two 
running streams, two canyons. There s a fifty- foot waterfall. 
The canyons are 200 feet deep. The mountain was a volcano, a 
mud volcano that blew out on this side, and you can see it when 
you look at it. 

So you have deep soils, and as it flowed, it eroded, and 
you ve got these steep canyons, steep, but you do have a flat 
plateau area that has about a couple hundred acres on it, and 
that was the main property. 

Crawford: This is a quote from Jack London. I want to know if you think 
that it s exaggerated. He said, "I go into farming because my 
philosophy and research has taught me to recognize the fact 
that a return to the soil is the basis of economics. Do you 
realize that I devote two hours a day to writing and ten to 
farming?" 

Shepard: I don t think that s exaggerating. However, when he says ten 
to farming, he did not farm himself. He may have spent ten 
hours thinking about what to do with his Ranch. Like he 
designed the pig pen, which is really extensive. He designed 
the stallion barns. He designed the planting, what he wanted, 
talking with other agricultural men. And then he turned it 
over to Eliza. Sometimes Eliza and the foreman in that 
department would look over what he was planning and put in 
ideas and go back to him. He did the planning, but he never 
did any physical work. 

And I may say another thing. The Valley of the Moon. A 
lot of that descriptive work was done by Charmian. 

Crawford: Really. 

Shepard: Yes. She was very good at that. 

Crawford: Is that documented in letters? I didn t see anything to that 
effect. 

Shepard: I don t know. I imagine it s documented in letters, or in 
work. Scholars like Earle Labor have come across pieces of 
work that Charmian has done. They may be at the Huntington. 



110 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



Crawford; 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



They may be, say, in The Valley of the Moon file. You can 
tell--a professional can tell the difference between the two. 

You mentioned the other day something about London s 
language, and I m just going to digress because it s on my 
mind. I said London had created all kinds of words, and in The 
Apostate, I think it was, I picked up a couple of them. One is 
"work beast." 

He claimed he was a work beast? 

No, he said, "I asked myself if this were the meaning of life, 
to be a work beast." So that was newly coined; it didn t 
exist. Anyway, I just wanted to get that in. You can pull it 
out if you want to. 

Also mate man? 



Yes, mate man. 

Mate woman. I ve come across several, too. 
Rover, meaning seaman. 



Cuny in Star 



Yes. He used those. Anyway, Stone uses the same words that he 
used. Like this statement describing Stone s work--Stone says, 
"Not satisfied with crowning his work with the jewels from the 
master s own diadem in John Barleycorn, Mr. Stone dips his 
sticky fingers in The Apostate, one of London s most famous 
stories, and claims for himself some genius touches of 
atmosphere and realistic squalor." This was written by Ken 
magazine, 1939. 

Well, let s start with the Hill Ranch, which was the initial 
ranch bought, I think 129 or 130 acres. 

Yes, 129. Nineteen-five. 

Nineteen-five, yes. Did this Ranch pay off? 

Oh, no. The Ranch never paid anything. In other words, London 
built the barn and he built the Wolf House on it. People asked 
why he built it way on the corner of the Ranch. That was the 
only piece of property he owned at that time, when he did the 
planning. His plan was to have the contours, the orchard 
planted, and design work and everything for the Wolf House in 
1907, when he came back from the cruise of the Snark. 



Crawford: What do you think of the setting of the Wolf House? 



Ill 



Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 
Crawford; 

Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



The setting of the Wolf House is very good. Fact is that 
you re down at the ground level. 

Yes, it seems a low site. 

Yes. But as soon as you go up, you have the whole valley and 
the whole mountain, plus the fact that all those trees grew up. 

Yes, I saw a picture before it was surrounded by trees as it is 
today. 

He had those redwoods around it, but not all the oaks. 

But you have no view from the house. That s what I wondered 
about. 

You have a beautiful view from the house. From the second 
floor. Those trees weren t there. It s sort of like this 
building here, where you re looking out, and you re looking 
over the whole valley and everything, but then all these trees 
came up. 

In back of the Wolf House it s all brush now, but that was 
all contoured. I asked the state, "Why don t you clean that 
out?" That was all in vineyard. London had his family 
vineyard of table grapes in there. 

Did he plant that? 

Yes. He planted that. That s the only thing that he planted. 
Table grapes. And then from these steep contours on the 
hillside that went around, that whole area was planted with 
various fruit trees. 

So that s just gone to wild trees now. 

Yes. I think there s a persimmon left, a persimmon tree, if 
you know where to look, and one or two little I think there s 
an apple tree. 

And how about the streams and the springs? Still on the 
property, on this property? 

On the Hill Ranch? No. The Hill Ranch was next to Asbury 
Creek, but to get water he had to go up higher. He had a water 
right on Asbury Creek. He had to go up higher. In 1910, when 
he bought the Kohler Ranch, then he got that water. 



Crawford: I see. No water on the original. 



112 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 



Shepard: Well, there was water, but it was taken down lower, and when he 
wanted to build the Wolf House up higher, he had to go up 
higher to get the water. They just took it out of the creek 
for the small house that was there. 

Oh, I see. And no springs that you know of. 

Yes, there was a spring, one or two springs. They were below, 
and you couldn t use them. You could use them for livestock 
watering. But that whole 129, 130 acres was all wooded, and 
there s only just a couple of meadows in it. 

Crawford: How would that work out in terms of urban blocks? Do you know? 
Shepard: An acre is 640 square feet. But I don t know. 

Crawford: It s hard to translate. Well, at this time he planted 
eucalyptus, did he? 

Eucalyptus, I believe, was started in about 19 14. There were 
none on that Hill Ranch. There never was any eucalyptus on the 
Hill Ranch. A couple of trees were there. 

This eucalyptus grove that you see in the parkway, that s the 
Kohler-Frolich property? So that was started later. Well, 
what are the extant buildings on that parcel of land? 

You ve got the barn that he built in 1905. It was knocked down 
by the earthquake and then, I don t know what year it was 
finished, but it was finished before 1913. And you have the 
little caretaker s house, the settler s house. That s all 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



that s there, 
woodshed . 



And then there was one little outside sort of a 



Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 



Where did they stay when they came? 

They never stayed there. They stayed at Wake Robin. 

Let s talk about some of these other acquisitions that he made 
then. That one was in 1905; then in 1908 the La Motte Ranch, 
which cost $10,000, according to what I read. Imagine! 

I think Aunt Netta bought all those that connected Wake Robin 
to the Hill Ranch in 1908, but it s sort of iffy exactly what 
year. But 1909, 1908, she bought the La Motte place, which is 
about 110 acres, and then she bought the Fish Ranch, and then 
she bought the Caroline Kohler Ranch. 



113 



Crawford: The Kohler Ranch was 700 acres; Stone claims it cost $30,000, 
and you say she bought them at his direction? 

Shepard: Yes, that s right. The Kohler Ranch had 300 acres with 
vineyard, and hayfields, purchased in 1910. 

Crawford: He says to Billy in The Valley of the Moon, quote, "Lease, 
don t repair, and then buy your own. If you don t, the 
immigrants will." 

Shepard: Well, yes. From 1905 to 1916 he bought land, and at that time 
you had a large Italian immigration, and they were buying up 
land, and those earlier immigrants were buying up land, so 
that s what he meant there. He wanted to get land. The same 
thing as today. At one time, during the Depression in the 
United States, yes, you could buy all the land you wanted. You 
could have bought Glen Ellen for $10,000. 

Crawford: Who did buy it? 

Shepard: I said you could. But there was a family bought a large 

portion of it. Most of it s all gone now. The wife she made 
a fortune on the Ranch, doing laundry and taking care of the 
men on the Ranch. 

Crawford: What was the family name? 

Shepard: Bonuecchio. She had twelve kids, and you find that every kid 
had a different father. 

Crawford: So she bought up parcels of land? Is that what you said? 

Shepard: Oh, yes, all over Glen Ellen. In fact, in that little Glen 
Ellen history, one of her daughters talks about her bringing 
the kids up here and Eliza let them pick prunes on the Ranch, 
and then she made enough money to make a down payment on the 
grocery store in Glen Ellen. 

Crawford: What a story. Where did they come from? 

Shepard: The Trieste area of Italy. Sometimes she called herself 

Hungarian because that was better to be called Hungarian out 
here than Italian. 



Crawford: You re kidding! Oh, that s such a good story! Are there any 
Bonuecchios around? 

Shepard: No, there are no Bonuecchios around. What happened was she got 
married to a man by the name of Meglen who ran booze during 



Prohibition, and she set up this whole thing, and so most of 
the kids changed their name to Meglen. Bill Meglen is still 
alive. Bill is what?--Bill is eighty-two, eighty-three years 
old. 

Crawford: And he s still in Glen Ellen. Well, I see various references 
in both books and letters to the fact that Jack London thought 
highly of Chinese farmers. He said in The Valley of the Moon, 
"The Chink fanners are better than the whites." And he 
claimed, "I m getting results which the Chinese have 
demonstrated for forty centuries." 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 



Shepard; 



Yes, contouring the land. He saw this in Korea. The farm 
pond, the contours; they used deep soils and didn t have them 
erode away. 

After we came back from World War II, we started farming, 
and we asked the assistance of the soil conservationist in the 
valley for some of the work they were doing; working with a 
farm advisor with various strains of corn and doing experiments 
like that. So this soil conservationist was very interested 
and he checked in and sent all the material back to Washington, 
D.C. Some of the first conservation work done out here was 
done by Jack London. 

In other words, they didn t have contours out here, they 
didn t have farm ponds, but they were starting to. 

Farm ponds? 

Farm ponds. The federal government paid a certain percentage 
to put in farm ponds and irrigate. This wasn t done at the 
time London was doing it. 

I see. I wanted to read what he said in about 1911; that was 
probably when he bought the winery property. He said, "At the 
present moment, I m the owner of six bankrupt ranches, which 
represent at least eighteen bankruptcies. At least eighteen 
farmers of the old school have lost their money, broken their 
hearts, lost their land." 

Well, this is true. But, however, as I say, today you re 
seeing these large farmers go out of business and going 
bankrupt in the Midwest. In those days they were smaller 
farmers. The economy changed. You had to get larger, except 
they were very small thenyou know, 129 acres. Eventually 
that wasn t large enough. 



115 



Crawford: 

Shepard: 
Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



At one time, that was large enough. But eventually, 
because of economics, it no longer was, and so they d go in and 
out of bankruptcy. As I said, when London died, there were 
mortgages --God knows how many mortgages. I looked at them all, 
and I said, "The heck with them" and threw them all away. 

Right. Well, let s talk about Wolf House just a little bit, 
because he started it about this time, didn t he? 



He started it in 1911. 

In 1911, and spent a fortune on it, 
equivalent to what, do you think? 



$70,000 would be 



Oh, gosh, I wouldn t attempt to guess. 
It s a vast sum, really, it strikes me. 

Well, $65,000 and then Charmian--that was 1919--her house cost 
about $80,000. With all the construction on the Ranch, the 
amount of money spent and people being hired he was spending 
it, his future income, pretty rapidly. 

Yes. At one point he was $50,000 in debt, when he bought the 
Freund Ranch. About $50,000 in debt. That was 1913. 

Yes. Well, he didn t make it up. The Ranch was never paid off 
until 1960. That s why some of the biographers say he died 
bankrupt. Well, he wasn t bankrupt. The ability to make money 
was there. It s that he spent it so fast. 

Yes. Then the Freund Ranch was around 400 acres? 

Yes, Freund Ranch was 1913, I believe. That was the last one. 
When he died the night before he died, he was discussing with 
Eliza about buying some more property. He had great thoughts. 
I think I told you the story of when he bought the Kohler- 
Frohling, which the bank owned, which Chauvet had mortgaged to 
the bank. 

The bank put it up for sale, and he actually bought it from 
the bank. He bought that in 1910, but when Eliza came up and 
checked the deeds and everything, there were ten acres in the 
center that Chauvet didn t own, so all the buildings, winery 
buildings and everything, he had not bought. 



Crawford: Thought he had. 



116 



Shepard: Thought he had. So then Eliza went to the California Wine 

Association and they sold it to her, and when she checked that 
out, she understood why Chauvet kept his mouth shut about the 
whole thing, because he had the water company in Glen Ellen, 
and he wanted the water on the Ranch for his water company. 
When Kohler and Frohling had sold Chauvet the vineyards, they 
kept all the water rights for the winery, so when they sold the 
winery to Eliza, why, the water rights on the mountain went to 
Jack London. 



So Chauvet sued Jack London and lost the case. Chauvet was 
allowed what they called an overflow right. London had first 
rights. In other words, he had to put pipe in higher, so water 
that would be flowing down he could take down to his water 
system. 

Crawford: But there s no scarcity of water on the properties. 

Shepard: Oh, no, this Ranch is well watered. That s why we could what 

we call dry-farm the vineyards, and didn t have to irrigate the 
vineyards. They were all dry-farmed. 

Crawford: Is that rainfall? 

Shepard: No. Well, rainfall plus it s underground water plus it s the 
type soil that retains water. Like, you ve got clay soil or 
adobe soil, it gets wet, but it won t release the water to 
plants very easily. Well, these type soils hold water, but 
they also release it to a plant. Goulding, clay loam. 

II 

Shepard: This is sort of complicated, with the structure of various 

soils. It s not that it s porous; it s the way it s composed. 

Crawford: That it retains or releases 

Shepard: It retains or releases, like some of your adobe and some of 

your clay soils. They can be wet, but they won t release the 
water to the root. That s another subject. 

Crawford: Well, back to Wolf House. When it burned, they added again to 
the cottage? 

Shepard: That s correct. 

Crawford: Was that because then they knew that s where they were going to 
be? He didn t intend to rebuild? 



117 



Shepard: No, no, he had all intentions to rebuild. He cleaned it all 

up--it burned in the fall of 1913, and he cleaned it up, so it 
wouldn t be till 1914--that he cut the trees down. They had 
the redwood trees down that he used, and they had them here for 
almost two years before they could use them, so that was 1916, 
when he died. But he was planning to rebuild it. 

When 1 was a kid there were all these window frames. When 
they say the Wolf House burned the day before he was going to 
move in, that wasn t correct. It was about two weeks. One of 
the reasons why it went up so fast and so furious intense 
fire- -was the fact that the windows were not in it, so when it 
did catch on fire, why, it was just like a draft coming in from 
all these open windows. 

Crawford: Sure. Well, here s a quote about his reaction to the fire. He 
said, "It isn t the money loss, though that is grave enough 
just at this time. The main hurt comes from the wanton 
despoiling of so much beauty." 

Shepard: Yes. The term "wanton"--that means he s thinking someone set 
it on fire. 

Crawford: He must have, yes. 

Shepard: As I said the other day, what Charmian said was they didn t 
know what it was because they didn t know anything about 
spontaneous combustion. He had just resigned from the 
Socialist Party when it happened, and they investigated the 
fire. They thought of Captain Shepard, that because of his 
feeling toward Jack he may have set it on fire. Charmian was 
investigated. All these people. 

They know for sure today that it was spontaneous 
combustion. But what I m saying is that at the time there was 
a thorough investigation, and that s where a lot of this came 
out that they thought it had been set on fire, but they didn t 
know. 



Innovations: Livestock. Eucalyptus. Hollow-Block Silos 



Crawford: Well, some other things that he tried on the Ranch, for 

instance, hay and dairy. Did he have a dairy operation at one 
time? 



118 



Shepard: Yes. Remember that the size of these operations was very 

small. The acreage he had and oh, I don t know, I m making an 
educated guess, but he may have had a total of twenty horses on 
the Ranch. He may have had fifteen cows. He may have had ten 
or fifteen shorthorns. Roslyn Choice was a grand champion 
bull. A shorthorn bull. And he had Neuadd Hillside, the 
champion Shire stallion. 

Crawford: Were those the English workhorses? 

Shepard: Shires, yes. He used this more as an experimental farm, not as 
a farm to make money from, not a commercial farm. This is a 
different subject. He didn t have commercial herds. He had to 
use a lot of his land to raise his own hay. Bought hay from 
adjacent ranches to feed his livestock. I would say that the 
Ranch was more experimental, and he wanted to make money on it, 
but there isn t any way you can make money on something in 
agriculture in four or five years. 

Crawford: He spent a lot of money planting 140,000 eucalyptus trees. 

Shepard: Yes. At the turn of the century, Minnesota, Michigan, all the 
hardwood had been cut down in the United States for furniture, 
and the federal government and the state governments were all 
trying to find some new fast-growing tree that they could use 
for furniture. You have to realize that you didn t have all 
this plastic and all that stuff in those days. It was just 
wood. It was used for everything. So someone found in 
Australia--! think--God knows how many varieties, a hundred and 
some-odd different varieties of eucalyptus, and there are a 
couple of them you could make lumber out of. 

So what happened was, an Australian shipbuilder in this 
area had a steamship line, Ledson. He had a ranch up above 
Kenwood. He had all these plants of eucalyptus shipped up 
there, and that s where London picked them up. Many federal 
people recommended it for planting, and these Australians just 
shipped all these different varieties over here. It took just 
as long for a eucalyptus tree to grow as an oak tree, the ones 
that they make furniture out of. 

Clarice Stasz wrote a paper on that, on the eucalyptus, and 
it is interesting. 

Crawford: What were they used for? 

Shepard: They were using them for firewood, they used them as a binder 
in making paper, and they were used for piles, and finally I 
got a tractor and pushed them all out and put in vineyards. 



119 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



That s real interesting. 
Prunes? 



How about the grape juice company? 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford; 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



That never produced anything. The prune dip and the prunes 
were dipped in the large area of the winery. They used to lay 
the trays out there with the prunes. I remember as a little 
kid stacking them. I didn t stack them, but seeing them being 
stacked. Well, I did stack them when I got older, when it 
started to rain or something. 

London used his name very extensively. There s a letter--! 
had it here for a long time. There is a picture of Jack London 
with a suit and a hat and something, and Charmian saying, 
"Don t send any money. Just send a couple of suits." 
[laughter] And he lent his name to the grape juice company, 
but it never got started. 

What disturbs me is some of the scholars printed some poems 
and some plays and said London wrote them, and there s 
correspondence where London gave his permission to write a play 
from one of the short stories or something. 

But he was generous about allowing things like that. 

Yes, he was generous in a sense, yet he- -where he could make 
money, he demanded it. 

Yes. Certainly in his writing; he was tough on those 
publishers. In his letters you can see that. 

I wanted to ask you about London s relationship with Luther 
Burbank, who said of him, "He was a big, healthy boy with a 
taste for serious things, but never cynical, never bitter, 
always good humored and humorous, and with fingers and heart 
equally sensitive when he was in my gardens." 

Yes. There s one letter in the Burbank file up in Santa Rosa, 
where London asked him to come to the Ranch and suggest 
material to plant in the orchard of the Wolf House. But there 
wasn t any close relationship between the two. He went to 
Santa Rosa maybe just once. There was no kind of relationship. 
Burbank is said to have been mean. 

I don t know much about him. 

I hike with a man who s about eighty- five years old, and he s a 
plant pathologist, and he was born over by Burbank s place 
there, and he knew Burbank, and I think he worked there. He 
said that it was almost impossible, he was such a cranky man. 



120 



He said he took credit for a lot of stuff that he didn t do. A 
lot of his stuff just didn t work out that he put out. 

He was trying to make money developing new plants and 
charging people to buy from him, but a lot of the stuff they d 
buy, say, the spineless cactus that London had, he bought that. 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Burbank didn t give it to him. 
Some of the stuff did work out, 
think of the Santa Rosa plum. 

Those were Burbank innovations? 



Burbank made a living off that, 
like the Burbank potato. I can 



Yes, but a lot of his creations didn t work, just like any 
inventor. God knows how many different ways there are of 
breeding to develop a new strain or something. It takes years. 
He would sell as he thought he had something. Sometimes it 
didn t turn out. All I know is that Keith said he wasn t the 
man that they think that he is today. He said there are other 
plant men who developed greater things at that time. 

That was a great time in the history of the world, at least 
in the United States. All these new inventions and new 
creations. The automobile, the airplane, and all these things. 

Because those that did it made money, and you had 
depressions and recessions, and during the latter part of the 
1800s it was terrible. If you invented somethingit s sort of 
like today when people are developing something new on the 
Internet or something new in electronics like Hewlett-Packard 
did or some of these young men are developing computers in 
their garages. 

Crawford: Yes. In a way, it s another renaissance of that kind of 
innovation, discovery. Well, you read so much about the 
hollow-block silos. What was innovative about those? 

Shepard: The fact of the cost of building them. Before, they had, oh, 
three or four types. One was solid brick. Used to be some 
over there on the way to Stockton, beautiful solid brick ones, 
and there s one in the upper end of Warm Springs Road. But 
they re very expensive to build. 

Then you have solid cement slabs, like staves in a barrel. 
You put those together. But the hollow block was stronger, and 
it was cheaper to construct. 

Crawford: Where would he have found out about the design of that? 



121 



Shepard: Through reading. It could have been from being up at Davis and 
one of the professors had seen this. There are hundreds of 
different inventions and things that occurred at that time. 
That s where he learned. He also took all kinds of agriculture 
magazines. 

When you said that he worked ten hours a daytwo hours 
writing and ten hours farming- -well, that s a little 
overstating it in my mind, but he did spend a lot of time 
reading. You can see in his library the agriculture books and 
periodicals. 

Crawford: He said something wonderful about life on the Ranch in one of 
the letters. Let me see if I can find it here, because I 
wanted to ask you about it . 



The Socialist Farmer-Writer and Dealings with Publishers, Ranch 
Guests, and Ranch Rules 



Crawford: 



Shepard : 



It s from a letter to Fannie Hamilton that he wrote in 1906, 
very shortly after he bought the first propertyhe said, "I 
write seven days a week, I swim two hours a day, I sit in the 
sun naked and read, and ride one hour. Sometimes I box. I 
know great happiness. But still I m the same revolutionary 
socialist, and more irritated by the smug and brutal 
bourgeoisie." Was that the pattern of his life? 



Well, I d say it s the pattern of his life. 
"Rules of the Ranch"? 



Have you seen his 



Crawford: Yes. I want to ask you about those, too. 

Shepard: Well, he dared do that. That was part of Charmian s job when 
people took Jack away from his work. She saw this. He had 
these wants, and the only way to get to them is for him to 
produce. You have a lot of the scholars criticized him for 
some of the work he did. Well, he admitted that he was writing 
for money. Classical authors never wrote for money in those 
days. That was terrible. You have to realize they were just 
changing from the pulp magazines and the sensational stuff that 
was being written, into the short story magazines. London hit 
that market. He was great for it. That s why he wrote so many 
short stories, for Harper s, Saturday Evening Post, Collier s. 

Crawford: Cosmopolitan. 



122 



Shepard: Cosmopolitan. All those magazines were cryingand there were 
no authors. 

Crawford: And they paid good money. 
Shepard: They paid good money. 

Crawford: They had to have paid well for him to have been able to do what 
he did. 

Shepard: I ll show you this, 
[tape interruption] 

Shepard: All this is material on Jack London. These are copies of 

original "magazine sales, 1898 to May 1900," showing every one 
he sent From Dawson to The Sea. Eight. And they were finally 
published and what they paid. 

Crawford: Did Charmian do these? 

Shepard: No, this is Jack s, in longhand. 

Crawford: In longhand. It s so well documented. He was a good 
businessman. 

Shepard: He documented everything and added up all the words. He got so 
much a word. Let s see let s see if I can find 

Crawford: Who paid the most do you have any idea? of the magazines? 

Shepard: I really don t know. It would be sort of difficult because 

they re all different lengths. For instance, here he had 6,400 
words, The League of Old Men. Paid $160. Went to the Atlantic 
Monthly. They paid him $160. "They corrected proofs and 
stipulated new publication," so he took less money to get it 
published. 

In the one for The Call of the Wild, sold to Macmillan in 
1902, he writes: "I asked $5,000. They offered $2,000, and 
they would publish it and advertise it." He sold it outright. 

Crawford: In order to get it out. 

Shepard: Make him known as an author. The list here includes WcClure s, 
Cosmopolitan, Smart Set, Collier s, Youth s Companion, Country 
Life. 

Crawford: Were these stories going out in longhand? 



123 



Shepard: No, he typed those. He typed till Charmian came along in 1903. 
He hated to type. He said his fingers hurt him. 

Crawford: What a shame that we don t have that fiction around anymore. 
The New Yorker publishes one or two, nothing like it used to 
be. 

In reading his letters, I was amazed how he answered school 
boys who wrote him. He answered charitable solicitations. 
There was one that made me laugh, from the Press Club in San 
Francisco, asking for the furniture fund. He said, "Gentlemen, 
not only do I not contribute to this kind of thing, but in all 
my life as a writer I ve never been invited to join your club. 
Therefore, if I bought you a chair I would not be able to sit 
in this chair." [laughter] 

Shepard: You don t find letters like that. That s why there was never 
any question with Stanford. As soon as they saw we wanted to 
have the letters published, Jess Bell was up here. He was an 
assistant editor, and he came up to the Ranch immediately and 
said, "We want to do it." They knew the quality. 

Crawford: They did a wonderful job. 

Shepard: And the Cloudsley Johns letters and how those two men 

correspondedthey re wonderful letters, in length and content. 

Crawford: Before we finish today let me ask you something more about the 
Ranch. There were some things, like the clay pit, that 
bothered London. What was that all about? 

Shepard: It was a clay pit. When Chauvet owned the Ranch he had a 

brickyard. It s not on the Ranch now, but he had a brickyard 
and made bricks in Glen Ellen- -the old hotel is made of bricks 
--and the clay came out of this clay pit. It kept getting 
bigger and bigger and bigger. 

When London bought the Ranch, why, the clay pit was on the 
Lamotte place, and London said, "I don t want you cutting any 
more wood or taking clay. Chauvet said, "Well, we have the 
right to take it out. We paid Lamotte to take it out." And 
Jack London said, "Well, you only paid so much a ton or so much 
a load." He said, "You re not going to take out any more 
loads." And that was it. 

Crawford: Oh, they relinquished the lease? 

Shepard: Well, yes. London just stopped them. I think there wasn t any 
written lease on it. And, to tell you the truth, I don t even 



124 



know, even though we call it the Lamotte place, I don t know 
who London bought that from. He could have bought that from 
the bank. 1 think there s a good chance he bought from the 
bank. 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Let s talk about the Ranch rules, 
they re pretty interesting. 



You brought that up, and 



There were Ranch rules, and then there was other rules that 
he d send the people that were going to visit the Ranch. The 
Ranch rules were in a pamphlet, and were very extensive for the 
working men and everything; the other rules are in a little 
blue paper. 

[tape interruption] 

Shepard: What I want to show you is these [guest] rules, that tells you 
pretty much what he did in the daytime: he worked all morning, 
and he probably worked all night--got very little sleep at 
night and woke up maybe four in the morning or three in the 
morning and started working. So this told a guest that he 
worked in the morning, that they could go horseback riding or 
swim in the afternoon, after lunch. But everything was really 
organized around London s producing. 

Crawford: It is clear that he enjoyed having guests, and would have had 
to have some sort of understanding in order to keep producing. 
The guests apparently traveled to Glen Ellen by train, and I 
wanted to ask you about the trains, because there were at one 
time two trains. When did those discontinue? 

Shepard: One of them went up through Glen Ellen and stopped at Santa 

Rosa. That s the Southern Pacific. The Northern Pacific came 
into Glen Ellen. There was a turnaround for the engine. 

Crawford: And there was a boat train. The leaflet says, "Southern 
Pacific train. Boat leaves at 4:00." To cross the Bay. 

Shepard: Yes. And "We ask our guests to dine on the boat if they come 
by the Northwestern Pacific." That s coming from the north. 
No, that s coming from San Francisco. That goes through 
Sausalito. But Southern Pacific had car ferries. Some of 
those ferries were just for people. They didn t carry cars. 
They would land at the ferry building. The car ferries landed 
at the bottom of Hyde Street, and then you drove into the city. 
You couldn t get off at the ferry building with a car, so they 
took two types of ferries. 

Crawford: How long did they run? 



125 



Shepard: Till 1937, when the Golden Gate Bridge was opened. Yes. I 

used to go down there all the time when I was a kid and get on 
the ferry. Sometimes parked the car in Sausalito and caught 
the Hyde Street ferry, or sometimes they came into the ferry 
building on Market. 

Crawford: Well, this is a very nice printed card for guests, and the 
telephone is SUburban-245. That s a different time. 

Shepard: Definitely. Well, here s a note. It says, "Dear Milo, Thanks 
to you and your family for establishing the lower Ranch and the 
lake for all of us forever. Waring Jones." 

Crawford: We started today talking about the lake, a place London loved. 
Anything else you want to say? 

Shepard: Well, it s a mud pond now. It s a shame. 
Crawford: It was a manmade lake. 

Shepard: It was a wet area, and London just put a rock dam across it. 

Then he built a log bathhouse and boathouse on either side, and 
he had an umiak, a two-seated, seal-skinned kayak, which were 
destroyed by patients from the center that escaped. It was 
used for boating and swimming and irrigation. And he had water 
from Graham Creek to replenish the lake and keep it full. Had 
a small dam on Graham Creek. The dam had a hatch through the 
middle of it that they closed and then diverted the water into 
the lake. During the night and early in the morning it opened 
up and let the water go down. 

One morning no one went up and opened that up, and so the 
people down below didn t have any water, and they sued London, 
that was the case just before he died, and the judge never 
decided. Said London deserved the water, but he shouldn t shut 
it all off. There was never any decision as to how much water. 
But the Thompsons and Netta Payne and all those people on the 
creek sued London. After the judge s decision, he took them 
all out to dinner. [laughter] 

Crawford: Did the lake then just dry up? 

Shepard: No, no. No, no. We used it all during the dairy years; we 
irrigated all the fields. 




The Shepard family: Mildred, Jill, Jack, and Irving, at the Ranch, 1925. 




Irving and Eliza Shepard, 1938. 




The vineyards at the Beauty Ranch, Glen Ellen, California. 



Photo by Robert Nixon 













\ 1 \V.e .-- 
\\ \ l ^:>.--- 




I am ... only just now beginning my first feeble attempts at 
building a house for myself. That is to. say, I am chopping down 
some redwood trees and leaving them in the woods to season 
against such time, two or three years hence, when they will be 
used in building the house. 





An early rendering of Wolf House 
by San Francisco architect Albert 
Farr showing how it would look 
when finished. 

Perched on the balcony railing 
outside Charmian s suite on the 
second floor of Wolf House, Jack 
London reviews the plans during 
construction. 




The schematic drawings of Wolf House show that it 
would have consisted of four levels, with the upper 
two floors mostly for the use of Jack and Charmian, 
and the main floor and basement for the use of their 
many expected guests. 






FIRST LEVEL 



SECOND LEVEL 




THIRD LEVEL 



FOURTH LEVEL 



I am building my dream-house on my dream-ranch. The latter 
is already mine, the former I am starting to build. 



Bull 
Exerciser 

. ...Pig Palace 
Silos V- ; 



Mouse of Happy Walls 



^ 

: Bathhouse ,; . 

/rro^ 




Scale in Miles 



126 



IV THE RANCH FROM 1974 TO TODAY 
[Interview 5: October 4, 2000] II 



Issues of Development and Conservation in Sonoma County and 
Farmers versus Trail Advocates 



Crawford: October 4, 2000, interview with Milo Shepard for the Regional 
Oral History Office. 

Shepard: Here s a little story: Evidently, the Oldsmobile company 

contacted Jack London and said, "You mentioned an Oldsmobile in 
one of your short stories. We will give you one." London 
wrote a story in 1914 about the revolution in Mexico and some 
Americans caught there, and trying to get them out of the 
inland areas of Mexico to Tampico or to Vera Cruz where the 
American navy was. 

So anyway, they found this Oldsmobile. A woman saying, 
"Oh, you merry Olds, you merry Olds, you merry Olds," talking 
about the "merry Oldsmobile" from the advertisement. Well, 
Jack London never drove; he accepted the car and gave it to 
Eliza. He taught my father how to drive and Eliza to drive. 
Jack and Charmian never drove; Charmian first drove in 1936. 

Crawford: Did he never drive? 

Shepard: No. He had a fear of the Industrial Revolution putting men out 
of work. He only had one engine on the Ranch that operated an 
ensilage which blew corn up into the silos. 

Crawford: What s the word? 

Shepard: Ensilage. It chops corn up and blows it into the silo, to make 
silage. But no, he didn t have any tractors. He didn t have 
anything like that on the Ranch. I m sure he probably would 
have eventually foreseen the need- -but he died in 1916, right 
at the [time of great] change- -during World War I a lot of 



127 



development was stopped in the United States, 
that little story. 



I wanted to tell 



Crawford: That s a great story. Well, last week, when we stopped, you 
brought up an interesting issue, which is that the community 
around here was not happy with lands given to the state park 
because that meant cutting out tax revenues. Address that a 
little bit? 

Shepard: You always have those who are against any change. There s 
always two sides to every subject. I mentioned the idea of 
Jack London Ranch going to the state park. The state park 
commission were against it. A lot of people were against it 
because of the tax rolls. In our valley we have today the 
Sonoma State Hospital, 1,600 acres, and you ve got-- 

Crawford: Yes, but they must pay taxes. 

Shepard: No. State doesn t pay any tax. And then you ve got Annadel 

State Park, 5,000; and Sugarloaf Ridge, 5,000; plus your county 
parks. They said, "How much more do we need in this little 
valley? How much more land being preserved?" Of course, there 
is the greenbelt or preserve where the county buys the land 
with the development rights. 

Crawford: This is through the 1990 Agricultural Preservation and Open 
Space District? 

Shepard: Yes, and quite a few people are against too much greenbelt. 
Crawford: Do people generally favor development here? 

Shepard: Well, certain people do and certain don t. We re in a process 
now where our infrastructure won t uphold our population 
growth, so they re trying to stop the building and all this in 
the area, which I can see. I m fortunate. I m surrounded by 
state land. 

Crawford: The 1990 ballot measurethe greenbelt recreation acquisition 
ballot measurelevied a sales tax for the purchase of certain 
lands . 

Shepard: The problem was all they did was they purchased the development 
rights so that the land would never be developed, but the land 
has been purchased with taxpayers money and the taxpayers sort 
of revolted and said, "Here they get all this money from the 
taxpayer, but we are not allowed to hike through. We aren t 
allowed to use the land." 



128 



Crawford: And that s true, isn t it? 

Shepard: Yes, yes. And the other thing was the selection of some of 
these lands was strictly political; land that would never be 
developed anyway. In other words, in the corner of Lake Sonoma 
in Mendocino County, that s rough country. No one goes back in 
there. 

Crawford: Lake Sonoma is not a public lake. 

Shepard: Yes, Lake Sonoma was created by a dam, a federal dam, but it s 
operated by the county, and there s a state fish hatchery there 
on Sonoma Lake, with a dam on Dry Creek for flood control and 
water. And then you have the Mendocino Lake, which is farther 
up the Russian River. 

Crawford: What is the obstacle to trail access? 

Shepard: They ve been trying to build a trail that goes up along the 

coast around the bay for years, and certain sections have been 
built. Other people think it s a liability. It s not so much 
the public going through private land; it s the idea that if 
they get hurt, the owners can be sued. A lot of landowners 
don t want to take the chance. 

Crawford: So it s a farmer-versus-hiker issue. The landowners have to 
approve in order to have these trails accessible? 

Shepard: I think there was a case where the state park system condemned 
some land up in Lake County to add onto their parks, and the 
courts threw it out. Said you cannot use public condemnation 
proceedings for recreational property. You can use it for 
roads and schools and federal buildings. 

Crawford: As this article points out, a lot of counties have 100 percent 
free access to these lands, but Sonoma County has something 
between 3 and 10 percent. 

Shepard: I think that says that 3 percent of the land that the county 

holds allows access. Now, the county in a sense controls that, 
because they bought the development rights, but that s all they 
have; they don t have power to allow people to go through that 
land. 

Crawford: In England it s obligatory in some areas, I believe, for 
farmers to allow public access. 

Shepard: Yes. I ve always been raised to think that people should have 
responsibility for what they do, but what has occurred in the 



129 



United States is if you do something stupid and get hurt, if 
you trip on a rock you can use that as an excuse, because the 
trail shouldn t have a rock on it or something like that. 

Crawford: Well, if you ride at the park stables here, you have to sign a 
liability waiver. 

Shepard: Those don t mean anything to an attorney. 

Crawford: So if you had a riding accident, you might still sue the 
stable. 

Shepard: Oh, sure. The stable s safe. Horses are safe. But that s why 
they carry such large insurance. You may be riding and a 
rattlesnake buzzes and off the horse you go. The horse bolts. 
If an attorney can prove that that horse is unmanageable and 
shouldn t be allowed to be ridden by inexperienced riders, 
you re going to collect. My son got sued. He had a horse for 
sale. Put the girl on the horse, came back, and found out that 
that was the second time she d ever ridden. The insurance 
company settled out of court. 

Crawford: He had no fault there? 

Shepard: No, he didn t have any fault. The horse was fine, except the 
girl didn t know how to ride. She said, stupidly, she got 
scared and just jumped off the horse. 

Crawford: What do you know of the Sonoma Mountain Conservancy? Anti- 
trail, as they re depicted here: "a group of well-connected, 
wealthy, anti-trail landowners." 

Shepard: Oh, what that is is over on the Petaluma side. They re 

ranchers. The town of Petaluma bought some property next to 
this Ranch, and it is still in litigation. I don t think the 
city s going to win on it, but they made a park out of it. It 
was water lands to start with, owned by the city, and they made 
a park out of it. Well, they had access through the Ranch to 
operate the water system, and the land was not for public 
access, like a park. 

Crawford: Is that Sonoma Mountain? 

Shepard: Yes, it s on the other side, on the Petaluma side. And then 

they just got together to stop it. They didn t want it; these 
are large cattle and sheep ranches. 

Crawford: You can t blame them, in a sense. 



130 



Shepard: No, you can t blame them. This one fellow bought some other 

land, a very wealthy man, and offered to trade the city for the 
Ranch. But he wanted too much money. It never occurred. It 
gives everyone a bad taste in their mouth. But how much land-- 
again, how much land do you want to put into parks? 

And now we ve got this Proposition I that didn t even bring 
in the farmers when they wrote it up in San Francisco. The 
attorneys held meetings down there, wealthy people in San 
Francisco, to stop all development in Sonoma County. 

Any development has to be done by a vote. Well, they went 
so far as to decide that if you wanted to put in a little park 
in Glen Ellen or Kenwood, which is a community in Sonoma 
County, you d have to put it to a vote in the county. 

Crawford: How could they negotiate that away from Sonoma County? 

Shepard: It s the people of Sonoma Valley who voted for this, to stop 
everything. 

Crawford: I see. In San Francisco they just worked out the language of 
the measure. 

Shepard: Yes. They did it through a proposition. For thirty years you 
can t do anything with your land. Well, farmers can t exist. 
Yes, we re lucky with our vineyards now, but economically 
you ve got apple orchards; you ve got places that aren t making 
money at all. You can t tie something up like that. But 
they re trying to. 

Crawford: You think the farmers have the right to sell some of that land 
off for development so that they can survive? 

Shepard: Or sell it to another rancher. Maybe he wants to put in 

grapes, or maybe he wants to put thoroughbred horses there. 

Crawford: Oh, you mean any kind of a crop change, even, you have to have 
approval? 

Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: Because that s considered a kind of development. You re going 
to vote against that one. 

Shepard: Afraid so. They re against us farmers. Not enough of us 
anymore. 

Crawford: Yes, that s what I read. 



131 



Well, let s go back to your Ranch. We discussed the Ranch 
up to the time that you left to become a ranger. Talk about 
what was going on here and why you made that decision. 

Shepard: My brother and I had a disagreement. We were in a partnership 
with my father, and I left. I was only gone two weeks and he 
turned over a jeep and died. We dispersed the herd, about 300 
head of cattle. We were building up to about 150 milking cows, 
all purebred Jerseys. 

Crawford: And the dairy was doing well. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. So we sold that to another dairyman, and we leased 

the Ranch from about 1965 till 1972, when I came back to start 
the vineyard. No, he leased it after 72. He leased it to-- 
whew--about 1979, when the state took over that section of the 
Ranch after my dad died, 78 or 79. My dad died in 75, and 
it took a couple of years to get it into the state s hands. So 
he leased it till about 1978. And that s all the activity of 
the Ranch, just those cattle here. In other words, the family 
wasn t doing any agriculture on the Ranch. I started vineyards 
in 72- 73, and leased the rest of the Ranch for pasture and 
planted thirty acres of grapes. I have 125 acres today. 



Working as a Park Ranger and the Ranger System 



Crawford: What about your ranger experiences? 

Shepard: The whole system was different in those days. You had rangers 
who were men of the soil and rangers who controlled their parks 
and could see what had to be done, and then you had your staff 
above, giving advice and assistance. The district had two 
carpenters and equipment operators. They were professional 
men. Today you ve got a maintenance crew and a ranger series, 
and they don t get along together. They re two separate 
entities. The ranger of Jack London just became a ranger, too, 
over a large group of parks . 

I say, "Why in the world don t you go up to Sugarloaf and 
get that roof fixed on that barn?" It s a tin roof. I said, 
"It s flapping. Some day you re going to get a good wind up 
there, and each year it gets worse." I said, "Those 
maintenance people drive by it every day, but they don t see 
it." He said, "Well, we ve got problems with the maintenance. 
They don t see anything." At Jack London, they have to call to 



132 



come up and fix a hose bib, put a washer in the faucet. It s 
idiotic. 

Crawford: What made this change? 

Shepard: Well, it was when William Penn Mott became head of the 

Department of Parks and Recreation. The federal government is 
set up that way, but the federal government is so much larger. 
When I was a ranger, we had to move every two years, so you 
learned the system, so you didn t become institutionalized. 
Never called it "my park." It was "the" park. Then they had 
all that kind of problem, and then they put guns on rangers. 
It s stupid, rangers have to have guns? Maybe in a couple of 
parks, but they could have brought in the sheriffs, the way we 
used to work, if there were riots. At Millerton Lake we had 
eleven deaths in the year when they had big riots. 

Crawford: Riots? 

Shepard: Yes. Well, these are kids from high school, drinking. You 

have to realize this was the sixties. A lot of grubby youths. 
We always controlled it with our voices, our hands, and our 
best tool was our Smokey Bear hat. They respected that. 

Crawford: They did. 

Shepard: Yes. Now they know you ve got a gun on. It puts you in an 
entirely different image. 

Crawford: So that s a big mistake. Rangers weren t meant to be police 
officers. 

Shepard: No, and I never gave a ticket in my whole life, my whole 

career, and I handled some pretty rough stuff. We d get them 
out of the park. 

One night a man came over to the trailer in Sugar Loaf. 
Here I am, in a park with fifty campsites, no radio, no 
telephone, no outside communication- -by myself. I drive in, 
and here s about, I d say a hundred kids just ripping things 
apart. I drove up and they started to jump on my vehicle, so I 
just backed off and called the deputy sheriff. He came in and 
said, "I don t think the two of us can handle it." By the time 
we got done, we had about six sheriffs cars and three highway 
patrol cars. Not a ticket was written. They were all kicked 
out of the park. 

They asked me, "What do you want us to do?" I said, "It 
doesn t do any good to arrest them." A lot of ways we did 



133 



things, kids started to learn. We d catch them smoking 
marijuana. You d get the names and addresses and phone their 
parents. 

Crawford: That WAS the old days, wasn t it? 

Shepard: Yes. Today an enforcement officer can t work that way. 

Crawford: Because you knew the land. 

Shepard: Yes. It s just like there are about fifty miles of road in 

Annadel, and every winter when it poured rain, we d put on our 
rain gear and we were out there, the rangers. We were ditching 
the roads. The leaves come down, plug ditches, and we d open 
up everything and keep it open. 

Today they don t even go out and look. Now they ve got a 
new system, spending I don t know how much money, banding the 
roads and making a trail down the middle of the road. The fire 
departments are all up in arms, gone to the legislature on it; 
they can t get in there for emergencies, and sometimes they 
can t use the helicopter to pull out injured people. They say 
you ve got to keep that road up, open. So we don t know what s 
going to happen there. 

But they just don t understand soil. They don t understand 
land. They don t get out there. 

Crawford: Is this because people who are knowledgeable aren t applying 
for the jobs? 

Shepard: No. A lot of them are knowledgeable. They haven t been raised 
with it. They don t understand. You don t learn this from a 
book. You don t learn this. You have to have a feeling of the 
land and understand the way nature is. 

I consider myself an ecologist, but I don t believe in a 
lot of these rules because they stop the advent of correct 
ecology, just like cutting the redwoods. They re cutting the 
old forest. I believe that we should have a lot preserved, but 
when they use the spotted owl as an excuse, it becomes 
politicized; it s going to become extinct. That s idiotic. We 
knew there were spotted owls in second-growth up and down the 
Eel River. Even out at Point Reyes a month ago, the rangers 
had fifty mating pairs. There s no old-growth out there left 
at all. But they will mate and continue to live. Still, they 
use that as a tool. 



134 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



So I agree that it should be preserved, a large portion of 
it. But what is preservation? A tree is going to die 
eventually, and a new one s going to come up. 

So you think that reasonable foresting is the answer. 

I certainly do. On our Ranch--! think I may have mentioned 
this earlier- -this Ranch was logged in the 1870s. When you cut 
down a redwood tree, instead of one you ve got maybe four, six, 
eight coming up. We call them fairy rings, rings that come up 
from the roots, which is interesting. 

You go in those areas where they were logged, and you will 
see a big old stump that s burned. People say, "Oh, a forest 
fire went through here." No. What happened was when they 
first logged, they just cut the tree down and from the stump 
these shoots just come up, and there wouldn t be a good 
attachment, and when they got so big, got big winds on them, 
they d break off. So they d burn the stump. Then from the 
roots of the stump these trees would come up, and that s why 
you ve got your large fairy rings. 

Well, that s what happened up there. Those canyons some 
of them are 150 feet deep or more, and they logged them, so we 
had to log about every twenty- five years. We only cut I think 
it was twenty- five inches, chest-high diameter or bigger. We 
didn t cut the little ones. We took the pressure off these 
canyon walls . 

Well, the state, of course, doesn t like that. Now those 
walls are all broken down. The trees are criss-crossed in the 
canyons, and all that dirt goes down into the bay and in the 
streams and fills up the little crannies and rocks. You know, 
when man touches something, that s the end of Mother Nature. 
Where man tries to control something that Mother Nature does, 
it just won t work. 



I heard you conferring with the park service, 
interested in this big sable squirrel outside, 
sitting, looking at us, on the deck. 



[pause) I m 
It s been 



But I heard you conferring with the state park people. 
What are those issues? 

It s continual. For instance, look at the doors of that first 
barn. It would take one hour to repaint them. But all the 
paint is chipped off, and the wood is weathering, and it 
shouldn t be. It was always kept painted. Same with the 
roofs. You can t buy metal, triple-dipped galvanized iron 



135 



anymore. That s heavy stuff. Put on in, I d say, 1912 or 13, 
and those roofs have been taken care of. Now they re all 
rusting. They re going to rust all the way through. 

Crawford: So you call them on this. 

Shepard: I call them. Sometimes they do the work, but the thing is, I 
talk to one person, and then I start going up the line. It 
just doesn t get done. Now they ve started holding weddings in 
Charmian s house. 



it 

Shepard: That was not what it was to be used for. The fact is that at a 
wedding you don t necessarily have people that are interested 
in the Jack London State Park and the artifacts. You don t 
have a ranger on duty that understands the public. These are 
just summer help. They aren t trained at handling this. So I 
wrote a letter about that, and I got a nice letter back, but it 
hasn t stopped. You know, "We ll look into it." 

The chief ranger within the Park Service has always had the 
power to make his own personal decisions. They spent probably 
$250,000 to have the whole section of eucalyptus trees sprayed, 
and they took out twenty rows of our vineyard because they 
sprayed in the wind, and they still haven t killed it. 

Crawford: Killed what? 

Shepard: The eucalyptus trees. That section on the left you see as you 
come in has ragged stuff growing in there. Coyote brush and 
everything. It looks like heck. 

Crawford: So you d like to see it cleared. 

Shepard: Yes, if they re going to take out the eucalyptus groves, take 
it out. In other words, I told them: "The amount of money 
you re spending," I said, "for $20,000 I d take a D-8 tractor 
and push them all out and burn them, and then you can plant 
your oaks and your madrones and what trees you want, and you 
have something nice." 

Crawford: They want the natives. 

Shepard: Yes. But what they ve got now is native brush; where the 

parking lot was, that was all vineyard before. You look over 
there now, it s all coyote brush. Yes, it s a native, but it s 



a scrub native, 
all. 



It s something that s a farmer doesn t want at 



136 



Crawford: What is your relationship with the chief ranger? 

Shepard: It s always been good. The new one I haven t taken out to 

lunch yet. This new ranger was not in the Park Service when I 
was there. The last one was in the Park Service. I knew him 
because I was a ranger. Again, there are two things that we 
were taught. Number one was to save the park. Number two was 
to work with the public, for the public to have a good 
experience. The saving of the park has gone by the way. 

Like the House of Happy Walls. Upstairs there s a deck 
that goes out. Underneath that deck are the park offices, 
which were Charmian s guest rooms. In the corner there, it s 
been leaking waterit always leaked, but because of the stone 
building, no one has been able to figure out how to stop the 
leaks. 

So one year another ranger and I looked it over. We did 
put up a plastic roof, portable, and set it up there for about 
four months during the rainy season, then took it off. Well, 
they haven t been doing that for ten years, and so the water 
goes in and drips down. Someone saw water stains coming down 
through some of the exposed beams in the ceiling. It s a 
shame . 

Crawford: It must be very frustrating for you. 

Shepard: It is, but you can t allow it to really get to you, and I don t 
want to sound sour grapes. There are all kinds of people in 
the world. Some people keep their houses up, and some people 
don t. 

Crawford: So it really depends on the ranger 



Shepard: That s right. But again, the main problem is that they 

separated the ranger from the maintenance, and the ranger is in 
interpretation, handling the crowds. As I said, it takes all 
day to fix a faucet. Before, the maintenance men were at the 
park; they could see what was happening. Today there s no 
feeling towards the individual park. 

What happened to me was I was put in charge of Annadel. I 
was in charge of opening up Sugarloaf and the campground, 
operating that, and then they took over Annadel, and I went 
into Annadel. Both those parks today are over 5,000 acres each. 

When I became a ranger they gave us a badge and said, "This 
is it." And then you went to work, and you learned from the 
men you worked around. Now they go through an academy. I was 



137 



the first ranger in our district to go through the sheriff s 
academy, and they d tell us how to handle certain situations 
and when to use your billy club and when to use your gun and 
how to approach people and various things like this, and when 
you handcuffed and when you didn t. We said, "What handcuffs? 
What gun? What billy club?" They thought we were crazy. We 
didn t have any of those tools. They said, "Well, you re going 
to get killed." 

One ranger was hurt down in one of the beach parks , and it 
was the thinking of William Penn Mott to put guns on all the 
rangers, which in my mind was the most stupid thing they could 
have done because, yes, you ve got one ranger and you ve got 
eight part-time people working there that are really handling 
the public, and the ranger s off doing his reports or out on 
patrol and something happens. 

So it s usually the summer staff that has to get help, to 
find the ranger, and by that time it may be too late. There 
was a woman ranger who goes up on the mountain on her bicycle. 
She had saddlebags, and I saw her putting the gun in the 
saddlebag. I said, "What are you going to do if some guy 
attacks you? You should be wearing that gun. You shouldn t 
have it in the saddlebag." 



Planting Vineyards on the Ranch 



Shepard : 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



So it s lucky some of them haven t gotten shot, 
themselves. 



Shoot 



Anyway, that upset me. I went to my father and talked 
about the vineyard and all this bit, so in 1972, the middle of 
July, I left the Park Service. Came home and started planting 
the vineyard in 1973. 

You went into the Park Service in what year? 

Nineteen sixty-five, so it was about seven years. Well, I 
figured out that with a mountain vineyard you ve got two 
different angles or slopes, and it s not flat land to keep your 
rows square and everything. Using my telescopic sight off my 
rifle and a twelve-foot piece of pipe that I held perpendicular 
to the land, not laying it down on the slope, I figured we had 
full twelve-feet rows. So 1 laid out thirty acres: fifteen in 
Pinot Noir and fifteen in Cabernet. 



138 



Then I started planting. Those came in. About 1980 I did 
fifty acres, and then I started planting some more. We ve got 
a total of about, I d say, 125 acres. We had some Chardonnay, 
but the winery didn t want that, so we-- 

Crawford: Which winery? 

Shepard: I started selling to Chateau St. Jean and Kenwood, half to 

each, and then Chateau St. Jean got into financial problems, so 
Kenwood took it all over. At that point, they started putting 
the etched head of the wolf on the bottle. Now they bake it 
on, but it used to be sandblasted, etched on, the bottles. The 
wolf image was Jack London s bookplate. 

So we basically have the majority of the vineyards in 
Cabernet Sauvignon, and then we have about twenty acres of Zin 
[Zinfandel] and twelve [counts to himself], about thirty acres 
of Merlot, five acres of Cabernet Franc and five acres of 
Shiraz. 

Crawford: You say Franc. 

Shepard: It s a blendingwhat we call a blending. In the United 
States, everything is done mainly by varietal today, like 
Cabernet Sauvignon. But you do have some generic, which is 
like Claret or Burgundy, something like that. But in France 
everything is a blend. 

In the Bordeaux area of France, you ve got Cabernet 
Sauvignon, which is the main base they use, and then they ve 
got Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdeaux, Medoc, and Merlot. Those 
are the five that they use to blend, to make their Bordeaux 
wine. 



Crawford: Do you have appellations? Tell me about those restrictions 
here. 

Shepard: Well, 100 percent of the wine has to come from Sonoma Valley if 
you claim it s a Sonoma Valley appellation. 

Crawford: Who watches out over that? 

Shepard: The ABTF and also the growers. As I said, there was just a 
decision made about that. Bronco Winery down in the valley 
bought Napa Ridge, and they just wanted the label, Napa Ridge, 
but they were shipping wine from the San Joaquin Valley and 
bottling it here, and they stopped them. 



139 



Well, there s a value to that. There s a value, and the 
French are protecting theirs the same way. The French got 
upset with Americans using the name Champagne or Burgundy 
because those are definite areas of France. 

Crawford: Yes, that s right. Champagne is very restricted. 

Shepard: But they didn t win that in the international market. Our 

Ranch has the subappellation of Sonoma Mountain, also, within 
Sonoma Valley, so we can use Sonoma Mountain or Sonoma Valley 
on the label. 

Crawford: Sonoma Mountain meaning? 

Shepard: Well, let s say, a viticulture district like Napa Valley. 
There are various ones in Napa Valley that they have. 

Crawford: And that really lets you know where your wine is coming from. 

Shepard : Yes . In other words , you know that that wine came from that 
area. It s very complicated. I could be corrected, but 
basically they have to have 75 percent of the wine from that 
area; if it s Jack London vineyards, 100 percent has to come 
from that vineyard if it s on the label, although Sonoma 
Mountain is different. Wine made from this Ranch, the Jack 
London Ranch, they can blend with Merlot and the Cabernet 
Franc- 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 



And call it what? 

Still call it Jack London. But if they call it Cabernet, it 
has to be 75 percent Cabernet. They can t reach out and buy 
some other grapes and put those into it. So anyway, it s a 
very complicated law, but it protects the farmer; it protects 
the buyer mainly. 

So what we get for our grapes is a heck of a lot more than, 
say, people on the valley floor who use Sonoma Valley 
designation, because we have a vineyard designation, and people 
know all the Kenwood, Jack London vineyard wine comes from this 
Ranch. They re out there picking grapes now. 

Yes, we re hearing the trucks that are hauling the grapes. 

They picked about a hundred tons yesterday. They ll do a 
hundred tons today. 



That is impressive, 
a period is that? 



From planting grapes to fruition; how long 



140 



Shepard: We field bud, so it takes us about three years to get our first 
crop, and then we consider the vine five to seven years, but 
we re slower because as I mentioned I planted it with dry land 
farmingin other words, there wasn t any irrigation, and there 
still isn t any irrigation on the old vines, which I ve had to 
interplant because of the phylloxera. We ll take those old 
vines out, and for the little interplants to grow, we had to 
put in a water system. 

Crawford: Did the phylloxera knock out all the old growth? 

Shepard: They haven t killed all our vineyard, but it hit our Chardonnay 
and some of our Cabernet. But now we re getting these wet 
winters again, and the louse, which has always been in the 
ground, started to increase because of the weather, and once it 
started to increase, the rootstock that everyone in California 
was using, recommended by the university, was not resistant. 
The French in 1904 said it s not resistant; the university 
thought it was. So now we re using rootstock that hasn t been 
proven out. We hope- 
Crawford: You re hopeful. Are you saying louse? 
Shepard: Yes, it s a louse. It s not a virus. 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 



What is the crop year like? 

We start pruning in January. We use two basic types of 
pruning. One is replacement cane, which is your Bordeaux 
grapes, and then we cordon our Merlot. Merlot and Zinfandel we 
cordon. 

Tell me about cordoning. 

Cordoning is where you bring the vine up and you have two arms 
on each side, and you have about six to eight spurs that you 
leave that come up, and you prune those spurs back on those two 

arms . 



With replacement cane, you ve got shoots coming out the 
side of the vine as it goes up, and you leave one shoot with 
two buds, and you take a cane with about ten buds out and tie 
it on the wire. The reason is you want to get so many buds. 
Each bud produces about a bunch and a half of grapes. So you 
go in and you prune. The cane is pruned off. The spur that 
you ve left has two buds on it, which produces two canes, and 
you take one of those as the new cane and one of those you cut 
back for two buds, for the next year. That s basically it. We 



141 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 



finish in March. As soon as we can get on the vineyard, why, 
we start disking. 

I mentioned we do what we call sustainable agriculture. 
Also in January or February we do what we call strip spraying. 
Our vines are on trellises, wire trellises, and you can t cross 
the vineyard. You can only disk one way. So you have a spot 
about eighteen inches, where the grass comes up, and we use 
Roundup and a soil sterilant to kill the grass and things. We 
don t believe in mowing or anything along those lines, because 
you re trying to grow two crops, grass and vines, on one piece 
of ground. I didn t have irrigation when I started. That s 
why we disk. We disk the grass under, and you get nitrogen 
release when it breaks down. Plus you have a drag and it 
smooths over the soil, which we call sealing it. You can, in 
the fall, in August, September, you can just scrape the dirt 
down to the disk line and you can still see the moisture. The 
ground is still moist. 

Another factor: we re in the hills here, and you can t 
easily burn a vineyard if you disk it like that. But last year 
and a couple of years, up in the hills, where these fellows 
just mow their vineyards, there s enough grass left. The fire 
went through the vineyard and burned the vines and killed them. 

They fired the vineyards? 

Well, a forest fire came through and it burned two or three of 
the vineyards up, or portions of them. 

What s the sterilant that you use? Is that considered a 
pesticide? 

No, it s not pesticide. In other words, the seeds in the soil 
will not germinate. 

Oh, sterilizes. So you don t have anything toxic that you have 
to wash off. 

No, we don t use anything like that. The laws have changed, 
and the workers who use any material, even sulfur, have to be 
in masks and white clothes. Hate to see that, because sulfur 
gets under the masks and burns the eyes . 

We have to sulfur the vineyard because you get mildew and 
then you also get rot in the vines, bunch rot, so you start 
that just after- -well, sometimes you do it before the bunches 
flower. As soon as they set, you cover them with sulfur or a 
compound to stop the mildew. You keep doing that, depending 



142 



upon the weather and the conditions, every two weeks, ten days 
to two weeks. You go through the vineyard and do that till the 
berries turn color. That s called verasion, when they turn 
color. 

When they turn color, you don t dare put any more sulfur in 
because the skins start getting soft, and the sulfur will get 
into the juice, and then the winemaker gets H 2 S, rotten egg. 
They don t want that. [laughter] 

So you do that, and usually about the end of June, July, 
you send a crew through and pull all the leaves off around the 
berries. They ll come back, so we do that two to three times, 
so that you get air through there and sunlight. 

If you don t do it early enough, you can cause the berry to 
be sunburnt, which will alter its quality. So, like human 
beings, you go out in the sun and you can just take a little 
bit at a time, so you do it when it s very early and you don t 
have that hot heat like you do in August. They re already used 
to it. 

Crawford: So they can survive the heat of August. 

Shepard: Oh, yes. They survive the direct sunlight, if they re brought 
up to that. In other words, they re on wires, and the bunches 
are just holding down like this [demonstrates]. The men really 
like it because they re easy to pick. 

Crawford: They re hand-picked? 
Shepard: Everything is hand-picked. 



The Vineyard Workers 



Crawford: And you have how many full-time laborers? 

Shepard: We have two that are full time. We ve got about forty that 
work five months of the year. They work six to eight weeks, 
sixty-hour weeks. 

Crawford: Are they Hispanic? 

Shepard: Yes, they re Hispanic. They have their own homes here, homes 

down below. Like any group of people, some of them drink their 



143 



money away; some of them save it. I ve been down to two or 
three weddings down in Mexico, in their village. 

Crawford: Oh, where do they come from? 

Shepard: Michoacan, an old village called Palo Alto. 

Crawford: I bet you re treated like a god down there. 

Shepard: Well, we treat them pretty good. 

Crawford: Do you provide health insurance? 

Shepard: No. Some of the foremen are covered by health insurance, and 
retirement. The rest of the men are just covered- -they re all 
covered with state comp [worker s compensation insurance]. 

Crawford: But if they get ill, what do they do? 

Shepard: We ve got backups that we donate to and everything, doctors 

that speak Spanish that take care of them. There are families 
that live here. We ve got organizations in the valley here 
that assist all the way from schooling, to helping those that 
aren t aggressive enough or intelligent enough, to help them 
along to immersion in society. My grandson started 
kindergarten here. He didn t start to read until the third 
grade in English. He went to Mexico with his mother, down in 
Mexico City, and he was speaking Spanish, and they thought he 
was from Michoacan. 

Crawford: And does he still speak it? 

Shepard: Yes, he s still in the classes. He s in the fifth grade. We 
have what we call La Luz. 

Crawford: La Luz? The light. 

Shepard: Yes. They re volunteers to the wine auction in Sonoma Valley. 
They make a large donation to the Boys and Girls Club, La Luz, 
the hospital, and I forgetthere s one other one. But they 
raised over half a million dollars, the farmers, ranchers. 

Crawford: So there are social programs for them. 

Shepard: That s right. When the workers come in, they may be living in 
someone else s house. They don t have any attachments. They 
can go to La Luz. They will suggest a doctor. 



They re taken care of. We ve had a couple of cases where 
they re cheated out of their wages, but they re taken care of, 
and that comes out in a hurry. Those fellows are fined pretty 
heavily. You can t do that sort of thing. You get what you 
put into them. They re human beings. 

Now, it s a little bit different in San Joaquin Valley. 
Those men get minimum wage, while our men start at ten dollars 
an hour. 

Crawford: Why? 

Shepard: Because they have to know our viticulture practices of growing; 
they are entirely different than the San Joaquin Valley. 
They re for production; we re for quality. That s why we ll 
get $3,000 a ton-- 

II 

Shepard: We disk until we can t get through the vineyard, which means 

that canes have come out so far that we ll catch them with the 
tractor and rip them off. So we go ahead and basically all we 
are doing is pulling leaves until the end of August, the first 
part of September, and then we start harvest. Different 
varieties ripen at different times, we hope. Sometimes they 
overlap, but it gives us time to get through, if you get one 
variety done. 

Usually the whites ripen earliest, then your Pinot Noirs, 
and then your Zinfandels and Merlots, and then your Cabernets. 
We finish anywhere from the middle of October to the first part 
of November, finish our harvest. 

And then, immediately after harvest, after we pick the 
grapes off, we water the young vines, give them a boost to get 
them through the winter, until the rains come. And because 
we re using a strip spray, there s over-spray that gets into 
and kills the grass in the disk row, the vine row. So anyway, 
we seed before the rains. We ll seed a cover crop, what we 
call a cover crop, and next spring we disk it under. 

Crawford: Why is that? 

Shepard: One, that stops erosion. When it comes up, water hitting the 
little plants causes it to plane out instead of just start all 
going in one spot. 

Crawford: Are most of your vineyards inclined? 



145 



Shepard: Yes, all my vineyards are inclined. Some of them have contours 
that arethe steepest contours, I think, are something like 
ten feet high. No, not that high. Probably six feet high. 

Crawford: What we re looking at here looks to be a fairly flat plane. 
Shepard: Yes, but if you look across, you see the contour. 

Crawford: I can see the workers down there, and I can hear them. They 
seem to be having a good time. 

Shepard: They never shut up! [laughter] No, those men will make a 

couple hundred bucks apiece today. They re happy. But they 
work hard. 

They re like children in the sense that--a week ago they 
couldn t pick for three or four days, and they wanted to get 
back to Mexico, the ones that came up. They wanted to get back 
with their families. You have a hard time, once you stop, to 
keep them here. 

Crawford: But you don t pay them when they re not picking. 

Shepard: No, they aren t paid, but they ve got enough money from 

previous--! mean, they re making big money. So what they do 
is, to keep them here, they pay them $80 a ton or $100 a ton. 
They ll pay them $110 a ton if they stay for the whole season. 

Crawford: Very interestingso what would a worker take away in an 
average season? 

Shepard: I would say our men average $100 a day, for six weeks. Some 

return from Mexico after one or two months and work the rest of 
the year. My foreman Chuy keeps seventy men busy the rest of 
the year. 

Crawford: When are they paid ten dollars an hour? 

Shepard: When they re doing the pruning, but that ranges from ten to 

twenty dollars an hour. Some of our tractor drivers get twenty 
dollars an hour. It depends how long they ve been here. Plus 
what jobs they re doing. 

Crawford: And is there housing on the Ranch? 

Shepard: No, no. They have their own houses. Some have beautiful 

homes. Some of them live with other ones, and some- 
Crawford: Where is that? 



146 



Shepard: In Sonoma, in Boyes Hot Springs, in Santa Rosa. 

Crawford: They don t live in picker shacks like you see going down coast 
toward Monterey. 

Shepard: Oh, no, nothing like that. It s usually just the single men 
that live in picker shacks or under bridges and this sort of 
thing. They re a different quality. These men are all family 
men. They aren t single men that come up. The single ones 
that get drunk on us here are, say, a son of someone that s 
brought in. 

Crawford: And are they legal? 
Shepard: Oh, yes. They have to be. 
Crawford: You have to say that. [laughter] 

Shepard: Well, no. In 1980, when they gave the amnesty to all these 
Mexicans who ve been in this country for ten years, they 
thought they d just give it to the Mexicans, and it s funny. A 
lot of them are macho now: "We don t have to do this" and blah, 
blah, blah. We got after them and got them all legalized who d 
been here. 

What the government found out was that they had more 
Caucasians than they did Hispanics applying for citizenship. 
They didn t realize that that was going to occur. All these 
people came into the United States and just didn t leave, all 
these foreign students that just stayed here after graduation 
from college. So yes, it applied to everyone. 

Crawford: Did NAFTA affect you? 

Shepard: No. Grapes from the Southern Hemisphere come in when our 

grapes aren t ready--in other words, the seasons are different, 
so it didn t affect us. 

There s no doubt that tomatoes and things from Mexico 
probably affect some of the vegetable farmers in the United 
States. It s already happening in the wine industry where the 
small wineries are being bought up by conglomerates. Vineyards 
are being bought up by corporations. To survive, you have to 
keep growing and get bigger and bigger. It s a shame. 

Crawford: It is a shame. 

Shepard: We can sell ours tomorrow. We re asked all the time by various 
companies and wineries themselves, and individuals-- 



147 



Crawford: To take your acreage and run it. 

Shepard: Yes. Well, Beltane Ranch now was almost sold to the president 
of Intel. It is a 1,600-acre old ranch. The Bells from 
Stanford were financiers. He was involved, I guess, in 
railroads up in Virginia City. 

Another Intel executive bought a ranch up here on Warm 
Springs Road from Val Rossi, who was born down there. He just 
died. He was eighty years old. 

Crawford: All the old Italian families are passing along. 

Shepard: Yes. We ve got one here, across from the Kundes, the Pagani 
family, and they re both well in their nineties, an old maid 
and her brother who never got married. They worked the Ranch, 
and she cooked for him. Oh, I don t know, the last year I 
think it was, someone robbed the house when they were inside 
sleeping, and he didn t hear them. They took all this 
beautiful old furnishing and stuff out. 

Crawford: Is it for sale? 
Shepard: No. 

Crawford: What did you do to learn this business, or were you already 
schooled in it? 

Shepard: I was involved in agriculture from the time I was a kid. We 
had a vineyard here on the Ranch till the start of World War 
II. Then after World War II, I had friends that needed help 
during harvest or disking or helping on their ranches to make 
extra money. Not working for them in a sense. 

A lot of the time, it was getting to them because they were 
up against it. Labor has always been a problem in agriculture 
because in the industry, we had the bracero program. Men came 
in to work in the fields for six to eight months, then returned 
to Mexico. This was a government program and made them legal 
while they were here. It worked very well, and then the 
government stopped it, and when they stopped that, why, all the 
illegals started coming in because we needed them. 

Crawford: Would you like open immigration? 

Shepard: I don t believe in open immigration, no, but I feel that 

everything is so politicized. Just like we just heard that 
Congress passed a bill to allow 100,000 engineers to come into 
the United States from the third-world countries. It s a 



148 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



ripoff. Men who are over fifty and apply for a job, they won t 
hire them, good engineers. 

What they re doing is they re getting these young engineers 
from, say, India, who apply- -in other words, there s a company 
that ll guarantee them, and these companies in the United 
States go to that company and say, "I need so many engineers," 
and they don t have to pay these guys as much. And they re 
locked into them. 

That s not the American way, but that s what s occurring. 
No, I m not exactly for open immigration, but we do need them, 
and it becomes such a social problem. I travel throughout the 
world, England and Germany and France with all the Algerians, 
the Germans with the Hungarians and the Turks. 

Europe has had that luxury, of being homogenous. 

Well, no, they weren t homogenous. But because of the wars- 
well, England was because they allowed anyone from any of their 
colonies to emigrate to England. 



In France 
men. They lost 
so they allowed 
it just grates 
as clean; they 
have a heck of 
United States, 
those countries 

Is that a fact? 



and Germany, because of the war, they didn t have 
so many men in World War II, they needed help, 
the Turks and these people to come in, and oh, 
against their culture. The Turksthey aren t 
butcher animals outside in the street. They 
a problem. We talk about racial problems in the 
It doesn t hold a candle to what s occurring in 
today. 



Yes. It s there. 



Running the Vineyard in the Twenty-first Century 



Crawford: You re obviously a little more high-tech than Jack London was. 

Shepard: Yes. The tractor with more horses in one vehicle instead of a 
bunch of horses, your horsepower. You have to realize we ve 
got maybe the same variety but different clones, or new 
varieties, of the grapes that they used to grow. 

Those grapes, you put a backpack on, then you sulfur it 
maybe twice, and you got two tons per acre. We try to hold 



149 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



ours not over four but sometimes we get six. It s sort of like 
raising hogs out in a pigpen and they ve got an area to run 
around in, or raising hogs that are just penned up, or chickens 
in those little pens to get fryers or eggs. Disease can run 
rampant, go through, and you re distressing the product you re 
raising more, so you have to be more technical in what you re 
doing. You don t have the latitude. 

What can change a crop? I m assuming the quality of your 
grapes varies from year to year. 

The quality of the grapethere are three or four factors that 
enter into it. One is the soil. Two is the direction of the 
sunlight, the sun exposure. Temperature, the climate. Then 
your viticulture practices: the amount of buds, which controls 
your crop, the amount of buds you leave on your vine. As I 
said, there s a bunch and a half per bud, so you leave fifty 



buds on, you get fifty to sixty pounds of grapes, 
production for premium-quality grapes. 



That s ideal 



You want to keep the vine just under when they re ripening. 
At verasion, when the grapes turn color, at that point you want 
all the energyyou want what they call the vine to shut off 
and stop growing, and you want all the vines to throw all the 
energy into that bunch of grapes, to develop it. All those 
factors enter in. You have to keep it all in balance. And 
this is why the bigger you get, you just can t take care of 
things that well. 

Yes. What have been your best years? 

It s sort of funny, but basically speaking, the odd years. 

That s what I hear. Why? 

I don t know. We just got a gold medal in vineyard recognition 
and everything at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, with our 1997 
Cabernet Sauvignon. 

They hold the Cabernet for three years, and the Merlots, 
the Zinfandels, the Pinot Noirs, two years before they release 
them. Whites can be released in a year. 

So it s all drinkable. 

Yes. I had guests up this weekend, and they tasted: "Oh, 
fantastic." And they bought a case each of the Cabernet 
Sauvignon at $35 a bottle. I said, "Now, you can drink this 



150 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford; 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



now, but," I said, "if you want to save it, you better drink it 
within ten or fifteen years." 

I ve got some in the house that was made in the 1940s and 
is Just as good as can be, but the public are used to younger 
wines, and they want wines that are drinkable now. Our social 
life todaythey don t have a correct cellar. They don t put 
it down and wait for years. 

I used to tell people, find a wine you like. Buy a case of 
it. Put it away. Then next year, buy a case of it. Do that 
for ten years, and then start using it, so they ve got ten- 
year-old wine. Once you get a ten-year cycle going, why, then 
you don t-- 

It s better at ten years. 

Well, not necessarily. Bob Mondavi made some wine and thought 
it was fantastic, and he kept it at the winery, and he s going 
to release it in fifteen years. Well, it was three years. He 
sent a letter out to everyone, and he said, "You better come 
get your wine because it s only going to last a couple of more 
years." It s made differently when they age it. Economics. 

Our industry is so slow. In Europe the industry has 
matured, but our industry has been growing and expanding. To 
get money, they have to have something they can sell to make 
cash flow to keep going, and this is what occurred. It may 
change in the future. 

Wineries are getting larger and larger, but you do have a 
lot of small, boutique wineries, and there is a place for them. 
And that s where in the United States, I feel we ll be able to 
keep that style of making wine that ll last for fifty years or 
so. 

What do you get per ton for your grapes? 

You usually don t ask that. I m not supposed to tell you, to 
tell you the truth. [laughter] 



Oh, okay. What s the range of profits? 
ballpark idea? 



Can you give me a 



Not range of profit, because that s an individual thing; the 
land, the equipment, the way you operate, and all this bit. I 
will tell you that my brother-in-law, who is a manager at 
Sears, figured it out once. He said we re making 18 percent on 
our investment . 



151 



Crawford: So it s a flourishing operation that you have here. 
Shepard: Yes. 

Crawford: Good. Is there anything else you want to say here about the 
winery or the vineyards? 

Shepard: No, not that I can think of. You re working with something 
that s living. My son is a co-owner in the Napa Valley 
Vineyard Management Company, and here I m harvesting five 
hundred tons maybe, and I said, "How are you doing?" He said, 
"Oh, we re doing at least 10,000 tons of grapes." They re so 
big! There are three vineyards in the San Joaquin Valley that 
have more acreage than Sonoma and Napa and Mendocino and Lake 
county put together. So, I mean, we re just a drop in the 
bucket. 

Crawford: I know. But are you a boutique vineyard? 

Shepard: Yes. We re large for a boutique vineyard. The average size of 
a vineyard in Sonoma County is something like eight acres. 

Crawford: That was another question. What can be profitable? Minimum 
size? 

Shepard: Well, my niece has a five-acre parcel. We put it in, and we 

take care of it. But she s got three acres of grapes, and she 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 
Shepard: 



gets about $4,000 or $5,000 a year from that, 
anything. That pays her taxes. 

Yes. That s fabulous. 



And doesn t do 



She can buy wine . 
being put in. 



You see more and more of these little areas 



We ve just been up to Lake County, and I guess it s really 
expanding up there. They feel they re not going to get the 
pests for a while. 

Well, Lake County s hot. The quality of wine they make up 
there is sort of like the quality of wine in Oregon. In 
California, in our area, one year may be better than another, 
but really, as a whole, every year is a vintage year compared 
to elsewhere if we don t have a catastrophe. Well, they do. 



Crawford: In Oregon? 



152 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 



Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Yes. I m trying to find the name of a wine writer who says 
it s one in five years that they may have failure because of 
rain. 

That s why what you have what they call vintage years in 
France, because of the rains, and even in Portugal. I think 
they had the first vintage port last year or the year before in 
eight years. They wouldn t give it a designation, because it 
wasn t up to the quality. 

So they just call it table wine or something? 

They put it into bottles with various names. They have tawny 
port and port type. But the vintage port has to be at the high 
standards. This is the way they are able to make extra money, 
because the public know that is good stuff. 

It s like Robert Mondavi hullabalooed his Opus One, and he 
made good wine. One year he made bad wine, and they just 
wrapped it and he s asking $125 a bottle for wine you could 
have bought for $10. You know, that s not right to do. He s 
never done it again, but your wine loses its credibility. 



Yes. And they price it as they see fit. 
of Kenwood label? 



What about the price 



Oh, it just keeps going up. I think they re going to raise it 
to $50 a bottle. But they re producing about 15,000 cases of 
Cabernet Sauvignon. That s a lot to sell at that price. 

Like Pinot Noir, we always get a gold medal for it, and 
they do about 3,000 cases of that. The Artist Series is about 



3,000. They charge $80 for that. 
Bordeaux, Bordeaux blend. 



That s a blend, like a 



California prices seem higher than French prices sometimes. 

If you go on into a market and get a Lafitte Rothschild, you re 
going to pay over $150 for it. But they ve only got about 10 
percent of the wine in France is of that quality. 



Crawford: What about your children? Are they agronomists? 

Shepard: One is a vineyard manager. My daughter is married to a 

winemaker. He works for BV, Beaulieu Vineyards, and does the 
Georges de Latour private reserve. This is their $80-a-bottle 
wine. My oldest son is on the Ranch here. He has Clydesdale 
horses, and he builds wagons, and is a wheelwright and a heavy 
equipment mechanic. 



153 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 
Crawford: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Shepard: 



What does he do with the Clydesdales? 

Oh, he s built several wagons, so he has a hay wagon this 
weekend is going to be up at the harvest fair, at the county 
fair. He s down at the Marin County Fair, and he shows harness 
exhibitions. He does weddings. He s got two surreys. One 
will hold twelve for the wedding party, and then another surrey 
for bride and groom. This is just a fun thing for him. 

But they don t work the grape vineyards. 



No, but he does work them sometimes. He s got all the 
equipment that he built to what they call a fore cart. 



It s 



two wheels, and you hook, say, your disk or your harrow on the 
back of it, and then the horses pull it. You can sit up there 
and drive it. You don t have to walk behind. 

When I was a kid, why, you put the reins over your 
shoulders and held onto the plow. When you hit a rock, why, 
[laughs] you went flying. The little team of horses, why, 
they d stop. You know, times are different. 

Is the future of the Ranch vineyard? 

Yes, 90 percent of the Ranch is in vineyard. 

Jack London had vineyards. 

Yes, Jack London had vineyards. Jack London had I forget how 
many acres. He took out sixty acres of vineyard or more, to 
plant the eucalyptus. He had two small vineyards, and then he 
planted a vineyard in back of the Wolf House for a family, for 
table grapes. That was all contoured. I ve been trying to get 
the state to clean that up and put back the old orchard. He 
had chestnuts, and he had cherries, and he had apples and 
crabapples and peaches and pears--a family orchard. Those are 
beautiful contours. Drop down into where the Wolf House sits. 

The public don t realize this. There s a letter from 
London to Luther Burbank, asking Burbank to recommend various 
varieties to plant for a family orchard. He said, "My soils 
are 200 feet deep," which they are, very deep soil because of 
that volcano flowing out on this side. It s a beautiful Ranch, 
but you only have just a little over a hundred-sorae-odd acres 
of actual farmland. 

And how much do you have in grapes now? 
About 125 acres. 



154 



Crawford: What will happen to the London materials and the Ranch 
eventually? 

Shepard: The Irving Shepard Trust controls all the London material at 
the Huntington Library and Utah State and all uncopyrighted 
materials such as letters. 

Upon the trustee s death, those institutions have the 
rights to what they have. All books are in the public domain 
and can be republished or quoted. 

The Ranch, under the Irving Shepard Trust, will be divided 
into four trusts and goes to all the Shepard children. God 
only knows what they will do with it. Some will want to sell, 
I suppose. 

Crawford: Well, I think that s a good day. 
Shepard: Okay. 



Transcribed by Him Eisenberg 
Final Typed by Shannon Page 



155 
INTERVIEW WITH SUE HODSON, JEANNE REESMAN, AND WARING JONES 



JACK LONDON COLLECTIONS AND SCHOLARSHIP 
[Date of Interview: October 14, 2000] II 

The Huntington Library Archives 



Crawford: This interview is an oral history session for the Milo Shepard/ 
Jack London oral history for The Bancroft Library, University 
of California. The occasion is the biennial Jack London 
Society Symposium in Santa Rosa, California, and I m sitting 
with Sue Hodson, curator of literary manuscripts at the 
Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, Professor Jeanne 
Reesman of the University of Texas, San Antonio, and collector 
Waring Jones of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

We re going to speak today about collections of Jack London 
materials. Sue, I d like to know something about the genesis 
of the collection at the Huntington. 

Hodson: Yes. In the early 1920s, Henry Huntington and his librarian 
Leslie Bliss learned that Charmian London was looking for a 
place to house Jack London s papers, and so Henry Huntington 
dispatched Leslie Bliss to the Ranch, and Leslie reported back 
that yes, this was a good collection and the Huntington should 
get the papers. We have documentation that shows that Henry 
Huntington said, "Yes, go ahead and do this." And so the 
Huntingtons started purchasing bits of the collection. 

The first material that arrived from the Ranch was a whole, 
huge accumulation of Jack London s literary manuscript drafts. 
That s the first material that arrived in the twenties, and 
then more material was forthcoming over the decades, even up 
through the mid-1980s, so what Charmian London started was 
continued then by Irving Shepard and Milo Shepard, in 
succession. So for literally sixty years the Huntington has 
been acquiring material from the Ranch. 

Crawford: By far the largest collection of London material. 



156 
Hodson: By far the largest in the world. 

Crawford: The common wisdom is that The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley 
at some point turned down the collected papers. 

Hodson: That s what I ve heard. I actually don t know when that 

happened, but I heard that Jim Hart turned it down, which is 
really surprising. 

Crawford: Why, do you suppose? 

Hodson: I can t imagine. I can t imagine. I would have thought that 
they would have been interested. 

Jones: Jim Hart told my second son that Jack London was not an artist. 
Period. [laughter] 

Crawford: I want to discuss that issue more fully. What is the scope of 
the Huntington collection? 

Hodson: The collection numbers, depending on who s counting and how 

they re counting, are either somewhere in the neighborhood of 
30,000 items or 50,000 items. Again, it just depends on how 
you count. 

But the collection includes drafts of most of Jack London s 
writings: nearly all the stories, a good many of the novels, 
and a lot of the nonfiction. It includes vast correspondence 
files, tens of thousands of letters to and from Jack and 
Charmian, both personal and professional, literary business 
papers. 

There are documents that include royalty statements, 
agreements with publishers. The photographs are an 
extraordinary resource in the collection. There are probably 
10,000 photographs that document virtually every facet of their 
lives. 

Crawford: Original photographs. 

Hodson: Original photographs, many taken by Jack and Charmian. I ve 
often tried to tell the difference, and it s just impossible. 
They were both very accomplished photographers. 

There are extensive ephemera files that include clippings, 
off-prints of Jack s writings, his own subject file that we 
have retained in the same order in which it was created, and 
that has to be a dozen or fifteen boxes, with this subject 
file, touching on everything from dogs to yachts. 



157 



There are broadsides really anything that s oversized, but 
including posters and oversized clippings about the Korean War. 
There are scrapbooks, and that s a couple of dozen volumes of 
large, ledger volumes. The Londons subscribed to several 
clipping bureaus, and Charraian had an active paste pot, and so 
these things are just filled with clippings that you can t find 
anywhere else. It would be impossible to recreate. 

Crawford: Who kept the albums? 

Hodson: I think Charmian did the majority of that. I call her the 
family archivist. Before she came along, Jack threw things 
away. He didn t retain things. And when Charmian came along, 
there s a dramatic change. So our collection is scant in the 
early years but picks right up in 1904, and then from then on 
nearly everything is retained. 

Crawford: Do you have feelers out on collections to come? 

Hodson: Oh, certainly. 

Crawford: Are there materials you know about that you d like to acquire? 

Hodson: Definitely. We keep watching all the time, always seeking to 
supplement the collection. It s the world s largest Jack 
London archive, but there are still gaps in it. We would still 
love to round things out, so I always watch the market, and we 
try to add to the collection whenever we can. 

Crawford: What in particular is still out there that you d like to have? 

Hodson: Oh, there are still letters and manuscripts, primarily letters, 
but there s still a lot of material out, and it comes up for 
auction and for sale occasionally, and so naturally we watch 
for these things. 

Crawford: How about collections abroad? 

Hodson: I m much less familiar with that. There s nothing in 

particular that I m aware of right now that I m watching. 

Crawford: Let s talk about usage at the Huntington. 

Hodson: The collection is extensively used. It s kind of a running 
obbligato that just goes on, and it s really a joy because 



people are excited with the collection, 
amount of material there. 



There s a tremendous 



Just this last month, there was an eminent scholar from 
abroad who was using the collection, and he has been working 



158 



with Jack London for probably forty or fifty years. 
Simultaneously there was a newly minted graduate student also 
working on Jack London, and I think that s one of the 
excitements, that we have every range, from those two ends and 
all the way through the middle, so we get the graduate 
students, the academics, and also the independent scholars who 
come through and are working on some very fine projects. 

I think in particular of Dan Dyer and his edition of The 
Call of the Wild, retracing the steps through Alaska. He did a 
first-rate job. So we have a lot of good scholarly work coming 
out of the collection, and it just is constant. 

Crawford: What is the availability to the public? 

Hodson: The collection is available primarily to academic researchers, 
people who are doing original research, and this tends to be 
upper-level graduate students and holders of the Ph.D. degree, 
but it isn t entirely that. We do have independent researchers 
who come through. Essentially people need to identify a topic 
that they re working on, for which they need to have access to 
original materials. 

Crawford: So nobody would be turned away. 

Hodson: Occasionally we do have to turn people away. Those people are 
what I can best characterize as hobbyists, who have just a 
personal interest, and with much regret we can t accommodate 
those people because they re not going to produce something 
that will further scholarship. Because of the level of use of 
our collections and the inadequate plant that we have- -in other 
words, there aren t enough desks, chairs, and staff to help 
out. We have to limit the usage somehow. Also to preserve the 
condition of the material so that it doesn t degrade in its 
conservation status over time. 

We ve had to set up some way to establish a need to come in 
to see the collection. Generally, if people are going to be 
publishing based on the collections, they re going to have 
access. Those people who just have a personal interest or are 
doing genealogy or something like that we will accommodate 
through copies. So we try not to turn anyone away flatly. We 
try to help one way or the other. 

Crawford: How about the handling of photographs? 

Hodson: The handling of photographs is monitored. We have copy prints 
and contact prints available to save wear and tear on the 
originals, but otherwise people can freely look through the 
photographs in the reading room and order copies . 



159 

Collections at Utah State University. Centenary College, and 
Sonoma State College 



Crawford: What about the other major collections? Jeanne, raaybe you 
would address that. The collection at Utah State, for 
instance. 

Reesman: Yes, I d be happy to. The second largest collection is at Utah 
State University in Logan, although some of that collection is 
actually copies of what s at the Huntington, so there s some 
overlap. 

The collection has some wonderful pieces in it that are 
uniquely there, such as one of the Yukon diaries, [in which) a 
friend of London talks about him. 

I enjoyed reading letters of George Sterling s which are 
there, and some of Anna Strunsky s letters. One in particular 
I recall was written at the birth of one of her children. On 
that very day she wrote to London, her former lover, about her 
feelings at the birth of a child. It s very interesting to 
see. Here you are, recovering in bed, and the person you re 
writing to is [far away). 

There are a number of letters from other people, especially 
friends in Hawaii and logs from the Snark are therepieces of 
them. I only recall one complete log that was there. There 
may be more. 

Crawford: Do you use the other collections? 

Reesman: I ve used Utah and the Huntington. I ve used The Bancroft 
Library on the Internet, of course. I have not used other 
collections. 

Crawford: What did you find there that you needed and couldn t find 
elsewhere? 

Reesman: Well, the photographic collection there is I think very 

interesting and helpful. I ve been very pleased to see that 
the works themselves have been digitized and put on the 
Internet, so that one can do word searches and things like that 
within London s own works. We re also very grateful to the 
Bancroft for maintaining the Jack London Society website as 
part of the Sunsite. 1 



http: //www. oac.cdlib.org/dynaweb/ead/berkeley/bancroft 



160 



Crawford: Who set that up? 

Reesman: Roy Tennant [head of information systems instructions, Doe 

Library]. Whenever we ask, he puts items on our page. And the 
society has grown as a result of that. We get a lot of 
inquiries off the Internet, because of that website, and people 
are increasingly using the collection as they become aware of 
it. 

Crawford: Who marshals the collection in Shreveport? 

Reesman: That is Earle Labor, who s professor of English at Centenary 

College. Waring Jones and Earle worked together to begin this 
collection, and there was a donor in Shreveport named Sam 
Peters, who bought and donated a lot of material. 

Milo Shepard, of course, donated a lot of the objects, 
books, and other items. It s in the Jack London Research 
Center, as it s called, at Centenary. Dr. Labor oversees the 
materials, but the librarians at Centenary College actually run 
the center. 

It s certainly underused. I don t think a lot of people 
come just to use the collection. They would go to the 
Huntington and then, to a lesser extent, they would go to Utah. 

Crawford: How about the Sonoma State collection? 

Jones: Well, the Sonoma State collection is all because of a fellow 
named Carl Bernatovich, who died a couple of years ago. 
Started collecting with I think Russ Kingman. I met him 
thirty- five years ago, Bernatovich. He s from the Delaware 
River area. He had diabetes, so he told his girlfriend he 
could never marry. But he ran earth-moving equipment, which he 
got a terrific salary for, and he was off in the winter, so he 
spent much of his life collecting Jack London. 

The way I describe this collection is [that it contains] 
everything that Jack London wrote, including his books, all his 
movies and movie postersterrible movies. Then first 
appearances, 349 first appearances of his stories in magazines. 
I had the 350th, so I said, "Carl, I m going to give you mine." 
[laughter] 

He died unexpectedly, so his sister called me, and asked, 
"What do I do with this?" I said, "It ought to be in one 
place. Don t split it up." The director of development at 
Sonoma State asked the archivist if there was room for it, and 
there was . 



161 

The college is just over the mountain, and the new library, 
from Jack s workplace, where he worked. This was about a year 
ago. It took about a month and a half or two to raise the 
dough, and we got that to Sonoma State. They bought the 
collection. 



Crawford: 
Jones : 



Crawford: 



Jones: 



Before they did that, we checked to see what else was in 
the area, and Bancroft sent us their whole list of all their 
holdings, and they had all of Jack s books. 

So there wasn t a conflict there, because the idea of 
Bernatovich was to keep it all in the Bay Area, where Jack 
worked. Carl came here and looked around I d say forty years 
ago when there wasn t much- -there was a little bit established. 

There was this sweet little collection at the San Francisco 
Public Library, where the dear Danish woman was. That was very 
moving. But that was all there was. And a couple of 
restaurants with a copy of a manuscript under a glass plate. 

So that was all given and it opened last week or so, and 
it ll be about two to five months before they get that stuff 
put away. There s fifty boxes; letters, everything he did. 
And they ve got this woman from Oshkosh, who s one of the Jack 
London women experts, along with these two. She s coming out 
there in January to be the archivist. So she s the one who s 
going to put it in shape. 

Susan Nuernberg. 

Susan Nuernberg. It was just a blessing they got her, just a 
blessing. Bernatovich was just an incredible guy. Quite 
modest. A Vietnam veteran. He collected materials about the 
assassination of Lincoln, and he collected a painter of the 
Delaware River area. 

Waring, do you still have materials that you have not donated? 
And what is the story of your interest in Jack London? 

Yes. What I have is totally separate from Carl s collection. 
I started as a kid. I was a reporter, and I came out here in 
the fifties. I d never read a story of Jack London s. Speaks 
about Minnesota schools. 

I read the Stone biography in the airplane, and at the back 
of the biography it said, "Thanks to Mr. Irving Shepard for 
showing me around the ranch." So I called up Mr. Shepard. He 
said, "Well, I ve got two ladies from Iowa coming tomorrow. 
Can you be up here at eleven?" 



162 

Well, I d never rented a car, so I got a map, I rented a 
car, and I went up there, and he took us through for two or 
three hours. Jack s study was just the way it was when he left 
it. The bedroom where he died, and so on. Charmian s place. 
Charmian s bedroom still had little cutouts of women s dresses 
and pictures of dogs pasted on the wall. So it was very 
moving. 

So then I thought, I want to read this fellow. It took me 
about a year and a half to get maybe forty-eight of his books 
at the average cost of about two bucks to four bucks . Books 
without covers. I wasn t into first editions of Jack, but I 
bought a couple of books inscribed by him for twenty bucks. 
This was in the fifties. 

Then I bumped into Jack London s daughter Joan and helped 
her find out something, so she said, "What can I do for you?" 
1 said, "Well, all those letters your dad wrote you. You ought 
to be sure they stay in the area in case students, people like 
me who come to Berkeley or to Glen Ellen ask, What have you 
got on Jack? 1 " They ve got the state park thing, the Shepard 
family, and all those things. But there was very little [in 
the way of letters.] There were some at Berkeley, at The 
Bancroft Library, the University of California library. 

But anyway I said to Joan, "If I get these letters, I ll be 
very sure they ll stay in the Bay Area. Hopefully in Glen 
Ellen or maybe Sonoma." At one point we thought of having a 
room in the Sonoma Plaza for a museum. Then about fifteen 
years, twenty years ago we were thinking of taking one of 
Jack s houses there are about eleven houses still up--and 
taking one and putting it down in the square and putting a new 
museum next to it. We were even going to have little desks so 
the students could write 1,000 words a day, as Jack did. 

But there was no money then. We were doing that with the 
mayor of Richmond- -with the city manager of Richmond, but we 
couldn t get very far with that. I think Jerry Brown [mayor of 
Oakland] was approached. 

Crawford: You might want to approach Brown now. 

Jones: Yes. In fact, I tried to get him up here because I ve got a 
friend who s working with him. Jerry Brown is interested. 



163 



Current Trends in London Scholarship 



Crawford: Let s talk a little bit about London scholarship. What seem to 
you to be the areas of primary interest? 

Reesman: Well, there s quite a lot of interest now in London and race. 
That seems to be coming out from a lot of people. There seems 
to me to be a lot more interest in the South Seas than there 
used to be. It used to be more the Klondike, and although 
interest in the Klondike fiction has not really abated, there s 
a lot more coverage of the South Seas fiction and some of the 
later stories, and I think London is seen much more as a writer 
rather than just a colorful biographical subject whose 
marriages and adventure draw interest. 

You know, those things will never stop appealing to people, 
but there s a lot more, for example, his experimentation with 
fiction. There s a whole period around 1910 especially where 
he seems to try every point of view or narrative device. 
That s true throughout his career, but people are paying more 
attention to the writerly aspects of such narrative 
experiments. 

Crawford: What do you think is responsible for that? 

Reesman: Well, I think there are a lot more scholars working on London, 
and they re writing for a more critical audience who are more 
interested in the writing itself. 

Here are two personal examples. They both involve me. 
There s a new book out from Stanford called No Mentor but 
Myself [coauthored by Ms. Reesman]. It s an expanded reissue 
of Dale Walker s 1979 book, consisting of London s writings 
about writing. That book has been very popular; when it first 
came out, it was very popular. It went out of print. Now that 
it s come out again, Stanford says that there s tremendous 
interest in London s ideas about writing, not just about his 
life, but his craft too, and the book has done really well. 

In the Spring 2000 issue of Resources in American Literary 
Study, I have an essay called "Prospects for the Study of Jack 
London." It was fun to write, because I got to review briefly 
the scholarship that s come before, but I spent the bulk of the 
essay trying to predict where London scholarship will go. They 
do one essay a year on one writer, and this year it was London. 
It s exciting to predict the future, where the trend is moving. 

Crawford: Where is it going? 



164 



Reesman: Well, I mentioned the interest in race, the South Seas. 

There s still an awful lot of just basic work to be done in 
terms of biography. For instance, there has never been a 
satisfactory biography. They re all problematic, some more than 
others. But at this moment Earle Labor is writing a biography 
for Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, and if you haven t already, I 
would certainly suggest you talk to him. 

Crawford: I spoke with him briefly. A lifelong scholar. 

Reesman: Absolutely. So I think, yes, there really isn t a limit on 

what can be done, but the things I mentioned seem to me to be 
where people seem to be focusing a lot of new attention. 

Crawford: What was your work in St. Malo, Jeanne? 

Reesman: There s an international book festival called Etonnants 

Voyaguers, and it focuses on a different theme each year, this 
year fantastic voyages. They call it the St. Malo Festival. 



I m working with Noel Mauberret from Nevers in France, 
here at the conference. 



He s 



Crawford: He is a teacher? 

Hodson: He teaches at the Lycee Alain Colas in Nevers. We have an 

agreement with Edition Phebus in Paris to produce twenty French 
translations of Jack London s works. 

I write the introductions; Noel uses some existing 
translations, but he has revised them. They have some 
problems, and sometimes he just translates them all over, with 
my help. We have six out now. 

Crawford: What is the market for those? 
Reesman: The French general readership. 

Crawford: I ve mentioned before that when I asked the French filmmaker 
who is here about London he had the notion that his work was 
primarily for French children or young adults. 

Reesman: No. No, in fact we haven t done any of the juvenile works. We 
did Tales of the Fish Patrol, which I guess verges toward the 
young adult market, but we did The Star Rover, The People of 
the Abyss, Children of the Frost, major works. And the 
filmmaker, Michel Viotte, must have misspoken because his film 
"Jack London" (1999) reflects London s entire career. 

Crawford: What is the British view of London, and in particular The 
People of the Abyss? 



165 

Reesman: There are a few British scholars who come to our conferences. 
I don t know that they tend to focus on People of the Abyss 
particularly. 

Hodson: Actually, I was in Oxford for a month, and I wanted to 

investigate the British response to The People of the Abyss. 
Basically there wasn t one opinion, not any more than in this 
country. It seems to have been in some part ignored. In a 
sense he simply entered into a stream of writing that was 
already there. There were other East End reformers, and he 
simply joined in with them. The book was reviewed, but not 
widely. 

/I 

Crawford: Any other thoughts about the British vis-a-vis London? 

Hodson: Yes, I couldn t find anything that was particularly 

distinctive. I did do a textual comparison between the British 
edition of the book in 1902 and the American edition, and there 
are substantial differences, which I don t think anyone has 
talked about before, so I m going to keep trying to work on 
this. I want to publish and speak on that. But I was 
surprised. I expected that London would have been taken up by 
a lot of the reformers. Either that or scorned by people who 
thought there was no problem. 

Crawford: Some reaction. 

Hodson: Yes. I found two threads of writing about poverty in London at 
that time. One thread was the people who said, "Well, those 
poor folk just need to pull themselves up and get jobs and make 
a life for themselves," which is hardly sympathetic, and the 
other thread, which was more of London s thread, was, "Let s 
try to help. What s wrong here? What can we do?" So there 
were those two threads, and they simply went ahead, and London 
fit into that, but there was no particular way that he was 
brought out specially. He simply was part of that thread. 

Crawford: Is London taught in schools at some level, and is the so-called 
stigma being addressed? 

Hodson: More than he used to be. This kind of underscores what Jeanne 
was talking about, about what s going on in scholarship now. 
It seems to me that Jack London scholarship and studies have 
come of age within the past two decades, especially the last 
ten years. I ve been overseeing the collection for twenty-one 
years now, and I ve watched the use of the collection grow and 
change substantially. 



166 



Crawford; 
Hodson: 

Crawford: 
Hodson: 



Reesman: 

Hodson: 

Reesman: 



Earle Labor and Earl Wilcox and Sam Baskett--a lot of these 
people were the ground-breakers. They ve been doing 
scholarship for several decades, and what s changed 
substantially now is that the world of Jack London scholars has 
grown phenomenally. The number of people using the collection 
has increased dramatically. 

Going along with that is the fact that Jack London s works 
are being more widely taught and accepted in schools . He was 
denigrated as two things: a writer of children s stories and a 
popular writer. Both of those things are death to anyone who 
would be studied in academic circles. 

Jack London was both, so his reputation has had to overcome 
those two black marks against it, and that s happening. It s 
happening due to the scholarship of people like Earle Labor and 
Jeanne Reesman and Sam Baskett. All .of the people who have 
come along in recent years, too. 

They ve worked very, very hard to overcome that stigma, and 
I think it s happening. We ve seen in the past five to ten 
years scholarly editions of his letters and his short stories 
issued by the Stanford University Press. 

Stanford has really come alive to London, I m pleased to see. 

They really have, and that s been a real shot in the arm for 
legitimizing Jack London, which should have happened a long 
time ago. 

Have you had anything to do with the Stanford projects? 

I was only helping them as the contact on site, assisting them 
in finding the photographs and getting the copies of things 
that they needed. But it was fascinating to watch it, and it 
was just a tremendous project. Both of them were. 

How many years did the letters take, say? 
I ve heard eleven. 

They did the letters, which was a tremendous breakthrough, and 
then they did the complete short stories, which was another 
step, and then they ve done a couple of other books on London. 



Hodson: The irony with Jack London is that he s one of the most widely 
read and popular authors in the world, and yet the majority of 
his works remain out of print, except in paperback editions, 
popular editions, so it s been really exciting to see them 



167 

coming out now in scholarly editions, with all the scholarly 
apparatus that they deserve. 



Readers and Students of London s work and the Jack London 
Society 



Crawford: I should say. How do we measure readership? 

Reesman: Well, any bookstore, any Barnes & Noble, any Borders, just 

about any chain bookstore- -sells a book from the shelf; I think 
that s the place to start. 

London has stayed popular with all kinds of readers. A lot 
of works have stayed in print since they were first published, 
and there are claims that he s one of the--if not the most- 
popular American writer in the world, certainly one of the two 
or three. I think Twain or Hemingway, you could argue, are 
too, but-- 

Crawford: You are talking about sales worldwide? 

Reesman: Yes. Years ago the late Hensley Woodbridge did a bibliography 
of foreign editions of London works, and according to his 
count, there were seventy different languages into which London 
had been translated. That s just tremendous. 

So I think that the readership that he had when he was 
living, the popular readership, has remained, but as Sue 
pointed out, the scholarly, critical editions available have 
come more recently, so university professors, researchers, now 
are able to read, for example, The South Sea Tales, which you 
couldn t find before. 

When I first started reading the late stories, I was lucky 
if I could get a book on interlibrary loan. You just couldn t 
get them. Earle Labor had a department secretary type and 
mimeograph certain stories for us at Centenary. 

Crawford: Do you have any idea how many university courses on London are 
taught? 

Reesman: No. I teach one, Earle Labor teaches one. I m sure maybe ten, 
twelve, fifteen of the participants here probably regularly 
teach one. 1 don t know. That would be interesting. Maybe 
the society could endeavor to find out. 



Jones : 



Reesman: 



Crawford: 



Crawford: 
Hodson: 



168 

London teaches very well with students, whether they re 
reading a work that they thought they already knew, like The 
Call of the Wild, or they re reading a more obscure short story 
that they never had heard of. Like teaching Twain, it s hard 
to mess London up. [laughter] 

There s one little footnote here that I just by chance found 
out a few years ago, that the [Ernest] Hemingway royalty income 
is higher now than when he was alive, for his three children. 
Why? Well, they have conferences like this one on Ernest 
Hemingway, and there are high school teachers teaching 
Hemingway, and if you get assigned The Snows of Kilimanjaro all 
across the country there, Scribners keeps reprinting it, and 
reprinting it. Every couple of years there s a new edition of 
Hemingway, with brand-new paperback covers, a new painting. 

Teaching is a big influence. There are two fellows here 
from Wayzate, Minnesota, who are teaching Jack London in high 
school. They said these kids were nuts about him. I went to 
school four miles from here and never got taught one book. 

Usually when an author dies, there s a dip, or often is. 
But the Hemingway thing has gone on and that s because the 
young people are assigned him, and I gather they like him, and 
then they go buy some more books. Is that somewhat true? 

Oh, I agree. I think London is taught, and I don t know the 
numbers, but he tends to be taught in junior high school, when 
they read White Fang or The Call of Che Wild. In a number of 
curricula in Texas--! happen to know just about Texashe also 
appears in the junior year of high school. 

I would like to see the teachers experiment a little bit 
more, and teach some of the short fiction, but that would mean 
adding stories into their anthologies, which pretty much tend 
to stick with the Klondike stories, To Build a Fire. 



Perhaps you would talk about your other project, 
collaborating on another project now? 



You 1 re 



Hodson: We re working on a volume of scholarly essays on Jack London. 
It s called Jack London: One Hundred Years a Writer. It s an 
absolutely superb group of essays, some of the best that we ve 
ever seen, and it s to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of 
the beginning of Jack s life as a professional writer. We hope 
it s going to be coming from the Huntington Library Press. 



As a trade book? 



Yes. 



169 



Crawford: 
Hodson: 



Reesman: 



Crawford: 
Reesman: 



Crawford: 



Reesman: 



Crawford; 
Reesman: 



Where did you find the essays? 

They came from the last Jack London Society symposium in 1998, 
which was held at the Huntington Library. We solicited papers. 
We asked for people to submit, and there were some wonderful 
papers given, delivered at the conference, so we simply asked 
those people to work them into a written form and submit them, 
and they re fabulous. 

They really are. Every essay--! think there are eight are 
just as strong. Wonderful collection. And Sue wrote a great 
introduction, tying in the themes in the essays to the 
symposium and the exhibit and the Huntington collection. 

What about the Jack London Society? 

The society was started ten years ago. Our first president was 
Sam Baskett, and our first vice president was Earl Wilcox. 
I ve been the executive coordinator for ten years. It s housed 
at the University of Texas in San Antonio. 

We publish a newsletter twice a year, and we sponsor panels 
at conferences such as the American Literature Association, and 
then we hold our own biennial symposium. We have about 150 
paying members and more that from time to time join in. But if 
you count everyone who from time to time pays dues and stays 
involved, there s about 300, and a number of them are from 
abroad. 

Yes, I was impressed by the numbers of people you have here 
from Europe and Asia. 

Yes, and we try to promote that. We hope to increase our 
number of foreign participants, because, as I said, London is 
popular in a different way in a number of other countries than 
in the United States. It s interesting: in Europe he tends to 
be regarded more as an intellectual, a thinker, whereas in the 
United States, that just really isn t the case. For all the 
good reasons that he s to be admired, he doesn t tend to be 
placed into comparison with intellectuals [here], but he does 
in France. 

What is the level of scholarship, would you say? 

I think it s quite high. I started working on London twenty 
years ago, and there just weren t nearly as many people working 
on it, and so you were always trying to go out and encourage 
people and bring new people in. Now it s gone way past the 
point where you have to go out and solicit people s interest. 
The Society is growing every year, and I think the number of 



170 



Crawford: 

Reesman: 

Crawford: 
Reesman: 



Jones: 



Crawford: 



Jones: 



publications and scholarly publications in the last twenty 
years has increased dramatically, partly based on the Stanford 
publications. People at last have access to things they didn t 
before. So I think it s quite high. 

Yet it s still a relatively small community. For example, 
the Hemingway group is much larger. The Faulkner group is much 
larger. In a small community, sometimes the standards can be 
painfully high because we all know each other and there s a lot 
of shared commitment to London, and people catch you when you 
make a mistake! 

What do you do about people, namely family members, who turn up 
at conferences like this one and speak informally? How 
accepting are you? 

Oh, very much. It certainly wouldn t be in the spirit of Jack 
London to shut down controversy or discussions. 

I haven t seen much controversy about the subject matter here. 

Well, from time to time there s certainly disagreement about 
some things. London s attitude on race, for example. There s 
quite a bit of disagreement about what to do with that. I m 
writing a book on that, not because I have the answers but 
because there are so many questions. And there are 
disagreements about the relationship between Jack and his first 
wife. Some people feel very strongly about that, on one side 
or the other. 

Personally, as the executive coordinator, I welcome 
everyone to come and present their work and discuss it. You 
know, we ask that papers conform to a standard of evidence and 
to standards of civility. Beyond that, everything is up for 
discussion. 

I ve noticed one thing: If they listen to some of the people 
with complaints, somehow when the people complain--! m thinking 
about several of them they get it out, and they complain less 
next year. 



We re going to need to move, 
quickly? 



Anything that you want to add 



There are funny people that you meet around the world. I was 
in England working, and there was a man at Scotland Yard who 
was absolutely nuts on People of the Abyss and Jack London. So 
he took me for a day or two to the exact sites of People of the 
Abyss. The same rooms, same everything. It was his life. He 
was a top inspector at Scotland Yard, but London had made his 



171 

life. Do you find you bump into those interesting people, 
committed people? 

Hodson: Oh, yes. 

Reesman: I get a lot of e-mail. 

Hodson: I would just like to add one last thing. In conjunction with 
the Jack London Society, we had an exhibition on Jack London, 
and it had an appeal, an emotional appeal and a popularity that 
we don t usually see in exhibits for the public, and I frankly 
hadn t expected it, even as much as I d been reading about the 
popularity of Jack London. It was extraordinary. We found 
that people really had an emotional bond with him. 

I put a volume of blank pages at the end of the exhibit and 
posed the question, "What does Jack London mean to you?" We 
have 300 pages of responses from the public. They re just 
amazing, confessional. And people to an extraordinary extent, 
time and time again, would address their remarks, "Dear Jack," 
just as though they were communicating directly with him. 

People would talk about the first book they d read and what 
it meant to them and how it drew them in to reading the rest of 
the books, or how they didn t read anything until they started 
to read Jack London. 



One man said he exists because of Jack London. His father 
had read London in Poland before World War II and was prompted 
to move to this country, thereby escaping all the troubles 
around the Second World War, so this fellow decided that he 
existed because his father had been a fan of Jack London. 

Just extraordinary stories. People who wrote about their 
lives turning around, even by visiting the exhibit and seeing 
what Jack London did with his life. 

Reesman: So you could say he s a hero. 

Hodson: He is, a very personal hero to people. And it was just 

extraordinary to see this. That book of comments is something 
that will live always in the Huntington archives, and it s just 
fascinating. 

Reesman: And people took time, apparently, to write long entries. 

Hodson: They did. We have things all the way from the teenage girls, 
who thought he was pretty hot, all the way up to full-page 
confessionals and very emotional responses to him and his 
writings, both. 



Crawford: 



Hodson: 



Crawford: 
Hodson: 

Crawford: 

Hodson: 

Jones: 



172 

Are most of the researchers and visitors from southern 
California? 

Primarily, but a lot are foreign visitors, from out of state 
and from out of the country as well as people from other states 
in the United States, so we have notes in that volume that are 
written in Asian languages and in Russian, in French, in 
German. It was up during the summer months, so we had tourist 



traffic along with our usual general public, 
fascinating. 

That s a valuable document in itself. 



It s really 



I ve excerpted it for various articles and for the introduction 
to our volume of essays, and we ll keep it in the archives 
forever. 

Had you seen that kind of thing before? 

No, not the kind of emotional response, that bonding. 

I have one thing to add. There was a conference, and I wish I 
had been there, about four to five years ago in New England, of 
schoolteachers or college teachers--! m not sure which. They 
were having drinks after meeting, and they asked, "Of all the 
American writers, who was the biggest genius?" I wasn t there, 
but I think Melville and Whitman got the most votes. 

Then they asked, "And who was the most extraordinary?" And 
that was Emily Dickinson and Faulkner. Then some woman said, 
"Who was the nicest?" They argued and fussed and so forth, and 
the next noon, I think, at breakfast, they had a vote. They 
agreed that in first place was Jack London, the nicest person. 
The second was Henry James. The nicest to his fellow man. 

Crawford: This is a good place to end our discussion. Thank you all. 



Transcribed by Mim Eisenberg 
Final Typed by Shannon Page 



173 



INTERVIEW WITH JACQUELINE TAVERNIER AND MILO SHEPARD 



Discovering Jack London in France 

[Date of Interview: October 13, 2000] II 



Crawford: I am talking with Jacqueline Tavernier, professor at the 

University of Ottawa, Canada, and president of the Jack London 
Society. Jacqueline, how did you get involved with Jack 
London? 

Tavernier: That was very strange. It was a long time agoit must have 

been in the early seventies, 73, 74, something like that. I 
was looking to write a paper on the North American Indians, and 
I was trying to figure out what American writers had written on 
the North American Indians, and I suddenly recalled from a long 
time past, when I was a child in France, reading stories by 
Jack London, so I started rereading Jack London, and I was 
hooked. 

Crawford: You grew up in France. 
Tavernier: Yes, I did. 

Crawford: How were you exposed to Jack London in France? That s very 
intriguing. 

Tavernier: Oh, I read a lot: The Call of the Wild, White Fang, a number of 
his short stories when I was a child. 

Crawford: In school? 

Tavernier: I don t remember studying London in school, but I read a lot. 
In fact, I read a lot of American writers before I knew they 
were major American writers. 

Crawford: So you don t know for sure if Jack London is taught in the 
lycee, in the general curriculum. 

Tavernier: I don t know if he s taught in the lycee, actually, but he is 
extremely well known in France. I mean, if you say Jack 



174 

London, every French person recognizes the name or has read 
some of the stories. 

Crawford: When I asked Michel [a French filmmaker at the London 

conference] yesterday about this, he said, "Oh, but primarily a 
children s author." 

Tavernier: Yes, but that s a mistake. He is known, too, because I 

remember a few years ago, twenty years ago or so, I was doing a 
lot of work on Hemingway, and I decided to talk to people and 
try and find out what was the first American writer s name 
which came to mind, and essentially there were three, and Jack 
London was always in the first two. 

Crawford: Who were the others? 

Tavernier: Edgar Allan Poe, Hemingway, and Jack London. 

Crawford: The French love Poe, don t they? 

Tavernier: Absolutely. Many of them don t even realize he s American! 

Crawford: What is the fascination with these three writers in particular? 

Tavernier: Well, Hemingway obviously dramatized himself very much, and he 
lived in France in the 1920s and wrote about France in the 
1920s and so on, but Poe they discovered through the 
translations of Charles Baudelaire, a major French poet who did 
marvelous translations. 

Crawford: I didn t realize he had translated Poe-- 

Tavernier: Oh, it s amazing. He devoted something like half of his 

writing career to translating Edgar Allan Poe, and even more 
interestinghe translated the short stories. He didn t even 
try to tackle the poems, really. But through Baudelaire, the 
French adored Poe. 

Crawford: Did you study London at some time? 

Tavernier: No, I never studied London per se in either high school or 

university, but I read him. I read a lot of things when I was 
a kid. Any book I could lay my hands on, I read, and I read 
quite a lot of Jack London. So when I was trying to think of a 
topic of the North American Indians, James Fenimore Cooper came 
to mind. I didn t particularly feel attracted to that. 

I suddenly recalled Jack London, and I started 
rereading the short stories, Children of the Frost and so on, 



175 

and that was the beginning. I rediscovered London as an adult, 
and of course saw something very different in him. 



Jack London and His Women; Eliza and Charmian 



Crawford: What is the scope of your teaching? 

Tavernier: Generally, I teach mostly American literature, mostly mid- 
nineteenth-century to mid-twentieth-century fiction, 
essentially: the naturalists, the realists, obviously people 
like Hawthorne, and I teach Poe. I love teaching Poe. And 
then usually ending up with the lost generation: Hemingway, 
Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck. This is a bit later, of 
course, Steinbeck. 

Crawford: You re writing a book about the London women. 

Tavernier: Yes, the women in London s life, the major ones. There are 
essentially five major women: Flora, Eliza, Anna Strunsky, 
Bessie, his first wife, and Charmian, his second wife. 

Crawford: Briefly, where do they turn up in his work? 

Tavernier: I think you can t say that they actually turn up in a very 

necessarily recognizable fashion, except one who does, who is 
of course the one he was first in love with, who is the model 
for the young woman in Martin Eden. 

Crawford: This is the young woman whose brother Jack met at the Oakland 
debating society? 

Tavernier: Mabel Applegarth. Yes. She is very recognizable, in many 

ways. I mean, she s not a hundred percent, but the others turn 
up otherwise in his work in a very--how can I say?--well, he 
transforms them a lot. 

For instance, Eliza turns up in his work as Martin Eden s 
sister, although he obviously emphasizes the drudgery, the low 
class, and so on, which was not really the case, but Eliza 
worked very hard [in Flora s house] when she was a kid, so he 
uses that. And also Eliza s lack of understanding of his 
desire to be a writer. You have that very much in Martin 
Eden s sister, too. But obviously after that he changes things 
around a lot. 

I think Eliza turns up a great deal. I think she 
probably helped shape his idea of what the ideal woman is 



176 

supposed to be for him. Obviously not Flora, but Eliza was 
very much for him the ideal woman. Very loving, very strong, 
very supportive. 

[When you think of it, it is really Eliza who raised 
Jack. 1 She was put in charge of him when she was nine years 
old, and when she was only a little older, she was literally 
left in charge of the whole household by Flora. Moreover, what 
affection Jack got as a child, he got from Mammy Jennie, from 
John London, and mostly from Eliza. Actually, his idea of a 
dream-life, when he grew up, was to live alone with Eliza in a 
big house where he could devote himself to reading and studying 
and where she would make a home for both of them. 

It s also not particularly surprising that Eliza should 
have run away from Flora s house as quickly as she could, and 
found her escape through marriage to an older man, whose 
children were probably as old as she was. She was ambitious, 
wanted to free herself from drudgery at Flora s house, and make 
a career for herself --which she did. Jack felt it as a 
betrayal on her part, but, paradoxically, she could in fact 
help him financially afterwards far better than if she had 
stayed at Flora s. And she did help him as much as she could. 
And it is her who actually mortgaged her house in order to 
stake him and her husband to the Klondike, dully aware that her 
husband would never be able to stick it out physically. 

Eliza was really a rock of support for Jack and, later, 
for Charmian, without whom, and without whose financial 
support, Charmian would probably not have been able to keep the 
ranch together after Jack s death, despite her own hard work. 
Actually, Charmian was financially in debt to Eliza much of the 
time. 

Eliza was a successful businesswoman and became an 
important and powerful figure in local and national politics. 

Eliza and Jack had a very loving relationship, and later, 
with Charmian, they formed a very loving trio. Of course, at 
times, there were frictionsyou cannot put three very strong 
personalities together without occasional disagreementsbut 
what prevailed was love, devotion, and intelligence. A rare 
combination. ] 2 



The bracketed section was added by Professor Tavernier during her 
review of the draft transcript. 

2 End of inserted section. 



Crawford: 
Tavernier : 

Crawford: 
Tavernier; 



177 
What about Valley of the Moon? 

Valley of Che Moon he uses a lot Charmian. Same thing in The 
Little Lady of the Big House. That s very closely based on 
Charmian. 



Do you think Charmian is well represented? 
understood by scholars? 



Is she well 



Well, of course, there s a big feud between the scholars who 
like Charmian and the scholars who try to portray Bessie in a 
more favorable light. I think Charmian is well understood to a 
certain extent, but I don t think she is really given her due 
completely, because I think she was a very, very intelligent 
woman, who knew her strength, who knew her limitations, who 
knew what she was best at, who also knew exactly what she 
wanted and how to get it, and who had a very interesting 
philosophy of life. A very reflective person. 

I don t think that most scholars see that. They tend to 
see obviously the very physically active woman who was a good 
sportswoman, who was a good writer, who dressed very elegantly, 
who loved spending money, who loved traveling, who was 
artistic. But I think there s also more to Charmian than that. 



Crawford: Where did you find Charmian? You have obviously read her 
letters and her journal. 

Tavernier: Yes. Mostly at the Huntington Library. There s a lot, a lot 
to read. 

Crawford: Tell me about your research and what new revelations. 

Tavernier: Ah, new revelations about Charmian. This past summer I got a 

really good insight by reading Charmian s late diaries. I read 
from about ten years after Jack s death. That was very 
interesting because then she s on her own, and I think it makes 
you realize how strong she was, and although she subordinated 
her personality to Jack a great dealshe typed all his 
manuscripts, she kept his manuscripts, she helped him with 
editing and so on- -she always did exactly what she wanted, and 
I think one has a tendency to see her as too subservient, 
maybe? 

The realization of how she went on with her life after 
his death makes you realize that she was a much stronger person 
than she may have appeared to be in Jack s life, when she lived 
with Jack. 



Crawford: She was his mate. 



178 



Tavernier: She was his mate, absolutely. 

Crawford: I mean, in his letters you get the sense that she was his 
equal. 

Tavernier: Oh, absolutely. It took courage to do the things she did. She 
went on the Snark with him, and she was very goodshe would 
pilot that thing, although she had never sailed a boat in her 
life before. She would box with him. She would match 
everything he did, and do it with him. It took a lot of 
courage, and a lot of determination. 

Crawford: Was he difficult to live with? 

Tavernier: I don t think so, but I think she knew how to handle him. She 
knew not to fight with him openly, although once in a while she 
did, but she knew not to butt her head against the wall and go 
around the wall when she wanted something. 

There s one letter which is very funny. She talks to her 
Aunt Netta Eames, and she tells the children not to argue with 
Jack. "You won t get anything that way." 

That was very, very interesting, because she knew that 
when he was restless, and she would send him away, say, "Go do 
something. Have fun." And, of course, he was not used to 
that, so he was full of appreciation and admiration that she 
could send him away. She said, "Why don t you go sailing for a 
couple of days?" 

Crawford: She gave him his freedom. 
Tavernier: She gave him his freedom, exactly . 

Crawford: She s often portrayed as being a very jealous woman, the fact 
that she didn t let him go to Carmel to see his friends, the 
fact that she literally tried to send certain visitors away. 

Tavernier: She was possessive and protective, but I think the one who was 
very jealous was Bessie. It s very interesting- -Charmian knew 
enough to not try to control him, and she did go with him most 
of the time. What she hated, though, was New York City, 
because she knew that when he went to New York, with or without 
her, he would behave badly. New York--! don t know what it 
was . 

Crawford: You mean she thought he was unfaithful? 



179 



Tavernier: 



Crawford: 



Tavernier: 



Crawford: 



Tavernier: 

Crawford: 

Tavernier: 



Crawford : 
Tavernier: 



[ don t know whether he was. She never felt he was unfaithful. 
1 don t know whether he ever was. If he ever was, it might 
have been in New York. 

It seems that when he was in New York, he would kind of 
let loose: drink too much, party too much. Then she would get 
really mad. But that s interesting. You see, even though she 
hated for him to go to New York and she usually tried to go 
with him, towards the end, in the last years, he wanted to go 
to New York to see his publishers and so on. They were short 
of cash. She did not go with him then. 

I ve forgotten exactly [what happened on] that one trip, 
but she actually mortgaged one of her own houses to give him 
the money to go to New York. Even though she loathed his going 
to New York, especially without her. I think that tells a lot. 



I think so, too. 
head. 



That she felt positive about giving him his 






Exactly. I was going to use the expression, because she was a 
very good horsewoman, and she knew how to manage a horse, and 
she would do very much the same thing with Jack. If the horse 
really wanted to go in a direction, okay, go. Give him his 
head, and then rein him back afterwards. And she knew how to 
do that. She did that, and she did that very well, too. 

We ve done an oral history with Jean Stone, Irving Stone s 
wife, who made some very wild claims about Charraian in her last 
decade here. She said as an elderly woman she rode nude in the 
morning, for instance. 

[laughter] I doubt that very much. 
Where does that come from? 

Well, there were times when Charmian would go and swim at the 
lake in the nude when it was very, very hot, but she would not 
go off to the lake in the nude; she would be dressed, and then 
undress at the lake and go swimming. Yes, she did that on 
occasion, and she did that sometimes with friends of hers, 
other people. 

In her later years. 

Well, I ve not read the late, late journals. I stopped reading 
after around 1926, although I read passages of later times. In 
fact, [I read about the time] when Irving Stone was with her 
and doing some of the research and Harvey Taylor was there. 



180 

But she did it, I know definitely, between 1916 and 1926. 
I don t know whether she did it afterward, but one thing is for 
sure: that she would never have ridden naked to the lake, and 
never early in the morning. Charmian was not an early riser. 
Charmian liked to sleep late. 



New Perspectives; Bessie Maddern; Charmian and Eliza Later in 
Life 



Crawford: 



Tavernier : 



Let s talk about in your research of all these women, 
material have you found? 



What new 



Ah. Well, I ve been working on Bessie recently. I ve not 
finished the book, obviously. I still have some research to 
do. I ve been doing a lot of work on Bessie recently, and 
there s always that feud between the people who see Bessie as a 
poor victimthis is the way she dramatized herself--and the 
other people, who tend to see her more as a manipulative 
person, which is the way I tend to see her. 

But I have a feeling that--! don t know--I think she may 
have suffered from some form of neurosis, because she had a lot 
of opportunities when she lived with Jack to meet people and so 
on. She was an ambitious woman. And somehow she never, never 
made anything of the opportunities she had. 

[She could have used Jack s money and support to improve 
herself and her education, and go to university, but she never 
did. 3 She chose the role of the somewhat dowdy housewife who 
would not be separated from her children for even a day, which 
is the last thing he wanted. 

Actually it s difficult not to feel sad for Bessie--but 
then, it s difficult not to feel even sadder for those she 
hurt, Jack and Charmian, of course, but also her two daughters 
whose young minds were being influenced by her attitude and by 
what she said and did. 

Somehow, Bessie, during her marriage to Jack and 
afterwards until the end, seems to have locked herself into a 
self-defeating and self-destructive pattern, which she 
apparently never questioned, despite the fact that it brought 
her nothing but trouble. This kind of compulsive repetitive 
behavior seems to me to be pathological. Of course, I don t 



The bracketed section was inserted by Professor Tavernier. 



Crawford: 



181 

mean to say that she was crazy or anything like that, but 
merely that somehow she was psychologically compromised. 1* 

After Jack divorced her, she essentially chose to 
dramatize herself, for the rest of her life, as a victim. And 
it makes me think somebody who makes that kind of choice, which 
is so totally self-defeating, has got to have a psychological 
problem. 

What s very interesting is that Bessie was very self- 
centered and ambitious, and somehow she had the possibility to 
be an actress. Her family on her mother s side had two very 
well-known actresses, including Minnie Maddern Fiske, and she 
never took the step to do it, although she had the introduction 
in the world of the theater, through her cousins, and she never 
did anything. Her parents did not like the theater, but she 
did not obey her parents anyway. She was independent 
financially. So why did she not take that step? 

It s the same thing with Jack. Once they had children 
and all that, she literally chose the role of the woman behind 
the stove who would never leave her baby even for a day, even 
though she had a nanny; she had servants. And this choice 
makes me wonder, too. 

Milo and I talked about the fact that Jack London invited her, 
on the day that he also talked about marriage with Charmian, to 
go to southern California. What did that represent? Was there 
a real hope to prolong their future together? 



Tavernier: 



I don t know. I had forgotten that, 
southern California with him? 



He wanted her to go to 






Crawford: Yes. He asked her here, at Wake Robin. 

Tavernier: Well, I know he didn t want to break the news to her right 

here. He wanted to wait basically until the holiday was over, 
and then break the news to her. So I don t know if it was a 
way of trying to soothe her; prepare her for it. But then he 
decided to change. Well, first of all, she confronted him. 
She had guessed that something was wrong, and she confronted 
him, and then he just said yes, it was true. 

Crawford: A question about Eliza. You mentioned yesterday some 

interesting things, and we had talked about the fact that one 
of her suitors was Cordell Hull, who was a Congressman [1907- 
1933] and then Roosevelt s first Secretary of State. 



End of inserted section. 



182 

Tavernier: Yes! I don t know much, because essentially this is something 
which is amusing in some ways, totally exasperating from the 
point of view of a biographer who s trying to get information. 
Charmian, for instance, in her diaries, never gives clearly the 
names of the lovers she s involved with. You ve got to guess. 
She s got kind of codes for them, and it s very difficult to 
figure out who they really are and what they really do, so you 
can only guess. 

Crawford: Do you know the codes? 

Tavernier: Well, some of them you can figure out. Eventually I found out 
that obviously "HH" and the "Magic One" was Houdini. 
[laughter] But I literally bypassed the whole affair until I 
realized that those little H s tucked away in her diary meant 
Houdini, and it s finding the "Magic One" which finally tipped 
me off, and I went back a year. I would say, "Oh, that s it." 

Crawford: And that s generally accepted? 



Tavernier: 



[Yes, yes, it is. 5 In fact, her affair with Houdini started in 
January 1918 until the end of April, while she was in New York, 
visiting Anna Strunsky, Merle Maddern, et cetera. After that, 
they corresponded for a while. He seems to have been very 
taken with her, and she very much enjoyed it. But I still have 
a lot of work to do to find out, if I ever do, who some of 
Charmian s lovers were after Jack s death. She was very 
actively courted by several men after Jack s death. At one 
point, she seems to have had no less than nine men courting 
her, and what 1 find particularly amazing is that she always 
managed to remain friends with them, even after the 
relationship had evolved into simple friendship. In fact, it 
is more than likely that she was only on a friendship basis 
with several of them, but she still enjoyed knowing that they 
were more or less in love with her- -which is quite natural. 
However, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to dig up 
information on them, as she carefully destroyed their letters 
and, when she talks about them in her diaries, she usually uses 
Roscoe Barnes s shorthand, which no one seems to be able to 
read. I suppose one could learn it, but it would be very time- 
consuming. She was a careful lady, and you can imagine a 
scholar s feelings when coming across a comment in the diaries 
such as: "today destroyed love letters from seven lovers"!!!! 

Same thing with Eliza, although there are far fewer 
references to the men she was involved with than there are for 
Charmian s in Charmian f s diaries. The man Charmian refers to 



Bracketed section added by Professor Tavernier. 



183 

as Eliza s young friend who proposed to her and whom she is 
glad Eliza did not accept is Cordell Hull. Charmian also says 
that she is wildly happy that Eliza is thinking of settling 
down for life near her.]* 

Actually, I did not know it was Cordell Hull until Milo 
filled me in. He laughed and he said, "Aha, I know who that 
was." There was no sign anywhere of who he was. 

Shepard: The time was exactly right when Eliza was back in Washington, 
D.C., involved back there, in the 1920s. 

Crawford: What was the involvement? I know she was involved in local 
politics. 

Shepard: Well, she was the president of the American Legion Auxiliary. 
That was a very political machine at that time. Right after 
World War I, they had a lot of political power. 

Tavernier: From what I gather, they had a very active social life on the 
ranch. 

Shepard: Yes. Oh, yes. 

Tavernier: People would come for a weekend, like ambassadors, artists, 
writers, and very often they had dances at Eliza s place, at 
Eliza s house. 

Shepard: But we were talking about Jack London Ranch. Neither one of 
those women ever, that I know of, slept with a man on the 
ranch. In other words, all their lovers were away from the 
ranch. 

Crawford: Do you have any light to shed on that? It sounds as if they 
were rather active. 

Tavernier: Definitely Charmian was. Eliza, I gather, was too, I m 

beginning to realize now, and this is very recent for me to 
realize that so was Eliza. 

[I still know very little about Eliza s romantic 
involvements. 7 Her marriage had been a failure according to 
Jack. At one point he said that her marriage was no marriage 
at all. And it seems that her husband lacked both vitality and 
brains, and made pretty much of a mess of most things he 



6 End of inserted section. 

Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 



184 



Crawford: 
Tavernier : 

Shepard: 
Tavernier: 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 



undertook on his own. It does not really seem that he was 
playing in the same league. It is interesting, really, because 
these two good-looking, vital, intelligent, hard-working, and 
independent women, who were both very much in the public eye, 
did not frighten men offmuch to the contraryand were very 
attractive to, and attracted by, not only younger men but also 
powerful men. It looks as if men were very liberated then, if 
I may say so. ] 8 

Because they were both very young. 

Yes. And they also liked younger men. Definitely Charmian 
did. 



Yes. 
day. 



Which was the reverse for the social standards of the 



They liked the younger men. I don t know how old Houdini was. 
Jack was younger than Charmian, of course, by about six, seven 
years? 

Charmian and Eliza were very close in age. Eliza was 
nine years older than Jack, and I guess Charmian was about six 
or seven years older than Jack, so they were very close in age. 

And they were close friends. 

And they became very close friends, as soon as Eliza found out 
that Jack was in love with Charmian, and when Jack told her, 
then she immediately took Charmian under her wing and helped 
her. 



Crawford: Were they similar in any ways that you see? 

Tavernier: I think they were in many ways. Both were very hard working. 
Both were independent women at a very early age. And by 
independent I mean they earned their own living very young. 

Shepard: Both of them were very strong. Charmian has been portrayed by 
some of the biographers as being a weak person. The other 
thing is I mentioned this about Charmian. This also applies 
to Eliza. They never carried tales. They weren t interested 
in gossip at all. 

Tavernier: Not at all. 



"End of inserted section. 



185 

Crawford: Eliza accomplished so much in becoming a lawyer, running a 

farm, having this tremendous life that she had. Where did the 
drive come from? 

Tavernier: I don t know where it came from, but definitely another thing 
which they have in common was not only were they financially 
independent very young, they invested, both of them, very 
young, in real estate. They knew how to invest their money. 
In fact, when Jack married Charmian, she already owned several 
houses . 

Shepard: In Piedmont, had rentals. She had beautiful sterling silver. 
I ve mentioned this before. 

Tavernier: Yes. And so it s interesting, because those were two women who 
were not going to wait on a man to look after them. They were 
going to make their own path, their fortune, their own 
decisions. They also had a bit of a gambling streak in them 
too, which fits in well with their character. They lived 
intensely and were risk takers. 

Shepard: But they never became in competition with their men. 

Tavernier: No, Charmian never did. She never tried to compete with Jack. 
In fact, she enjoyed supporting Jack. And later on, in 1920, 
she had an affair with another writer, Fredrick O Brien, who 
was also writing about the South Seas (he had published a book 
called White Shadows in the South Seas). This affair lasted 
though 1921, and then it seems to have evolved toward a close 
friendship. He often stayed at the ranch to write. 

He was married, but she was having an affair with him, 
and he probably would never have finished that book had it not 
been for Charmian. She did the same thing she had done for 
Jack. She typed everything, she helped him with information; 
she did a lot of things. [She thoroughly enjoyed working with 
him and for him despite her own work. Although she did not 
have the same passion for him that she had had for Jack, it was 
like a repetition of the life-pattern she had shared with Jack 
and she felt satisfied. It s quite possible that O Brien s new 
book Mystic Atolls of the South Seas might not have seen the 
light of day without her. You know what, Charmian managed as 
well to be friends with his sister and his wife. Quite 
amazing. ] 10 



Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 
"End of inserted section. 



186 
Crawford: So she raentored people. 

Tavernier: Yes, yes, and she supported them, and she enjoyed doing it. I 
remember reading a note in which she said, "This is one of my 
strengths. I know I m good at doing that." And she enjoyed 
doing it. And once she was doing it with that other writer, 
she was very happy because it was kind of a redoing of what she 
had enjoyed doing so much with Jack. She kind of settled down 
in that routine, and she was very, very happy. 

Shepard: It s one of the reasons why some of these stories were created 
by women, in jealousy of Charmian and Eliza. They couldn t 
stand to see that. And they took an awful lot from Jack, as 
women . 

Tavernier: Oh, yes. 

Crawford: We have talked about how Charmian would send him off to kind of 
get rid of his restlessness. 

Tavernier: Because he was demanding. [laughter] 

Shepard: He was demanding. Also he was a very tender person, but he had 
these wide swings. 



Anna Strunsky 



Crawford: 



Tavernier: 



Crawford: 



His relationship with women is so interesting. How about Anna 
Strunsky. We haven t talked about her. Tell me what you ve 
discovered about that relationship. 

Oh, well, first of all they were very much in love with each 
other. Jack came very close to proposing to Anna actually less 
than a week before he proposed to Bess, but he did not propose 
in a direct way. Anna was at Berkeley, at the university. 



Well, she flirted with him. She 
really understand what he was asking, 
once she graduated, she would want to 
Revolution and so on, and she kind of 
She knew really what he was trying to 
clearly, and the problem is that Jack 
He thought she was saying no. 



pretended she did not 
and she told him that 
go to Russia for the 
avoided the question, 
ask but did not put 
reacted very negatively. 



Oh, so you think he was ready to make a full commitment, but 
she was not. 



Tavernier : 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 



187 

Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. Then he turned around and 
proposed to Bessie just a few days later, and Anna was very 
hurt by it, and she realized that she had made a mistake, of 
course. And later on, he proposed to Anna again while he was 
married to Bessie, after the birth of Joan, before the birth of 
Becky, because he told her that his marriage was not working 
out, that as far as he was concerned it was finished. 

Even with a child coming. 

Well, at the time I don t know if he knew the child was coming, 
but Anna certainly did not. And she accepted him. They were 
working on the Kempton-Wace Letters at the time, and Anna had 
been staying with Jack and Bessie, and she accepted to marry 
him. 

And then she went back home, and she thought about it for 
a couple of weeks, and she came back to see him and said, "No, 
I really cannot marry you" because she did not want to make a 
happiness at the expense of Bessie s, of another woman s. She 
had reasons later on to regret the decision, when she realized 
that he turned to Charmian. 

When he was in England he answered a letter from Anna. He 
said, "You have to realize the gestation period is nine 
months . " 

[Exactly. 11 Anna had not known about the new baby to be born 
before he left for England. And although they had broken up 
after she turned him down, they were still writing love letters 
to each other. I guess Jack had not taken this second 
rejection as hard as the first one. Afer all, he knew by then 
that Anna loved him, and he had had reason to regret his 
earlier reaction to his half-spoken proposal when she was still 
at Berkeley. So they were writing almost every day to each 
other.] 12 

He went to England, and she found out through Flora that 
Bessie was pregnant again, and then Anna became very angry, 
very jealous, and she wrote to him a letter which no one has 
found yet, as far as I know. 



Crawford: How do we know about the letter? 



Shepard: 



Tavernier: 



Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 
12 End of inserted section. 



188 

Tavernier: We know by Jack s response. He was terribly upset, and he was 
saying, "You accuse me of having lied to you. No, I did not 
lie to you." And this is when he said, "We ll find out how 
long it takes to make a baby, and you ll know that I did not 
lie to you at the time when I proposed to you." 

Crawford: Was he unsettled in his own mind, do you think? 

Tavernier: Unsettled in which way? 

Crawford: About these relationships that he had. 

Tavernier: Yes and no. I think he knew he had made a terrible mistake by 
marrying Bessie. 

Shepard: I think he was trying to get out of his marriage. 

Tavernier: Oh, he was. Very early. At that pointoh, yes. I mean, when 
he reproposed to Anna, he was trying to get out of the 
marriage. It was already finished, as far as he was concerned. 

Crawford: But he was very generous with Bessie and the children, wasn t 
he? 

Tavernier: Very. And the one thing which made him feel terribly guilty 
were, of course, the children, the fact that he had two 
daughters. 

Crawford: Do you treat the daughters in your book? 

Tavernier: I will, but I don t think I m going to devote a chapter to 

them. I m going to treat them in their relationship to Bessie. 
I may make a chapter for them. I m not sure. And then their 
relationship to Charmian, too. Obviously, their relationship 
to Jack. But that was largely controlled by Bessie. 

Crawford: She didn t want them to have much to do with him, did she? 
Tavernier: Oh, God. She did so much harm to those girls! 
Shepard: Just like Becky never saw her father s grave until 1975. 
II 

Tavernier: Absolutely. Bessie let her resentment and her jealousy not 
only, of course, destroy her own life and it hurt Jack and 
Charmian, of course, but I think the greatest victims were 
probably her daughters, because she raised Joan essentially 
with a very strong dislike of her father and with preconceived 
ideas which were inaccurate about Jack. 



Crawford: 



189 

And Becky, who totally withdrew within herself, from what 
I could see and really never even indicated, from what I heard, 
even when she was married, that she was the daughter of Jack 
London. That only came much later in her life. 

This girl who spoke out at the conference yesterday is whose 
daughter? 



Shepard: She is Joan s son s daughter. There were several. 



Bessie s and Charmian s Relationship and Aunt Netta Eames 



Crawford: We will talk about them, but let us continue with Bessie and 
Charmian and their interesting relationship. 

Tavernier: They knew each other before Charmian became involved with Jack 
and they were part of the same group. Interestingly enough, 
Bessie confided in Charmian, and at one point, before Charmian 
became involved with Jack, she was believing some of the things 
which Bessie was saying, and she felt that Jack treated Bessie 
terribly badly. But then she heard the other side eventually, 
and she found out that it was not quite as Bessie was 
presenting it. 

And then, when they became involved, Jack told Charmian 
that he wanted her to keep up her friendship with Bessie so 
that Bessie would not guess. He realized what Bessie could do, 
and, of course, Bessie vindicated Jack s attitude by the way 
she behaved with Anna Strunsky, when in the suit for divorce, 
which she filed, she named Anna Strunsky as correspondent. Not 
only had she no proof, but she knew in fact that Jack loved 
somebody else at that point. 

Shepard: This is a little bit off the subject, but Charmian had met Jack 
much earlier and didn t have any interest whatsoever. 

Tavernier: That s right. That s right. She met him at her aunt s place, 
and her reaction was, [he was dressed shabbily the first time 
she saw him and missing a few teeth. 13 The second time, he was 
at least dressed more formally, if still cheaply, and she 
became a little bit more interested. But his proposing 



Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 



190 

marriage to Bessie cut short any burgeoning friendship or 
interest there might have been.] 1 * [laughter] 

Crawford: What was the spark? 

Tavernier: When she read the stories, to start with. 

Shepard: Also her aunt sort of pushed Jack onto her. 

Tavernier: And she pushed Jack, yes. 

Shepard: Charmian was in her thirties, and Netta wanted her to get 

married. Aunt Netta said, "This is an inspiring young writer 
who s going to go someplace." 

Crawford: Aunt Netta was an interesting woman in her own right, wasn t 
she? Editor of the Overland Monthly... 

Tavernier: She was indeed! 

Crawford: Do you treat her in your book? 

Tavernier: No, not much, not much, although Jack became very close to her 
for a while. He used to call her "my mother, Mother mine." 
But then eventually, towards the end, the relationship became 
very sour when Netta sued him over the water rights and so on, 
and Netta tended to want to grab. 

Shepard: When they came back from the Snark cruise, I think that started 
it. 

Tavernier: She made such bad decisions. She was looking after the ranch 
and looking after his books and his manuscripts, but she made 
some terribly bad decisions. 

Shepard: I think what really teed London off was the fact that she would 
order stuff for the Wolf House and she d use it at her own 
place. He was paying for her stuff. 

Tavernier: I know. She borrowed money from him back, and she took 

Charmian 1 s money to pay Jack. [laughter] Charmian took it 
well, essentially laughing and shaking her head at Netta s 
gall. I think she was used to it. 

Crawford: The fact that Charmain was an orphan of sortshow did that 
affect her character? 



*End of inserted section. 



191 

Tavernier: I m not sure. She was happy with the upbringing she had gotten 
with Netta, though, and she often wondered if she had been 
brought up differently how she would have turned out. I think 
she was grateful to Netta for bringing her up in the freedom in 
which did, because Netta brought her up in a very free way. 

Shepard: Free way, but responsible. 

Tavernier: Very responsible, with a great deal of intellectual freedom and 
sexual freedom and so on. But extremely disciplined. And 
Netta was not totally altruistic because she spent money, 
obviously, the money that Charmian had inherited from her 
parents, on bringing up Charmian. She also expected Charmian 
to take care of her afterwards, so she wanted her to be well 
able to support herself. 

Shepard: Yes, she was looking out for Netta. 



Setting the Record Straight; London s Support of Flora and 
Bessie; London s Relationship with Charmian 



Crawford: In the biographies, including the Stone biography, what are the 
major inaccuracies about the women? 

Tavernier: Oh, God, there have been a lot of inaccuracies. 

Crawford: Ways in which you are setting the record straight, is really 
what I want to ask you. 

Tavernier: Well, the basic thing is the difference in point of view, which 
we have seen, where Bessie told a lot of tales about Jack which 
were wrong, like the time he kept her in poverty and so on, 
that he made all that money but did not give her much of 
anything. 

[At one point she even claimed that she had to make her 
own clothes, which is particularly funny, since Jack wanted her 
to look elegant, and bought her beautiful dresses which she 
refused to wear. 15 I think Bessie tended to dramatize herself 
using hackneyed cliches- -unfortunately they did not fit her 
case at all. But then, the general public had no way of 
knowing that! I think this was a play for power and control. 
She could not control what he did, so she tried to control the 
way he was perceived by the world at large. The least that one 



15 Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 



Crawford: 
Tavernier : 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 



192 

can say, though, is that it was not very smart because in order 
to put him down, she also put herself down in the eyes of 
others. One may want to sympathize with victims, but one 
cannot help being suspicious of eternal victims, and one does 
not want to be one.]" 

He kept her pretty well. Actually, more than well, 
because, and I ve forgotten the calculations I made, but she 
was getting, essentially as pocket money in the 1910s, what 
would probably be the equivalent nowadays, I would say, of 
probably $50,000 a year, and on top of that he was paying for 
the house, he was paying for the repairs, he was paying for the 
taxes, he was paying usually for a lot of doctor bills and 
extra clothing, and so on and so on and so on. So in fact she 
was living quite well. But for some reason she never had any 
money. Having no money, especially since she should have been 
able to live quite comfortably on her allowance plus all the 
extras, was most likely also a play for power. And she kept 
implicating Joan in the situation, so that Joan would be the 
one asking Jack for money because she felt so sorry for her 
poor mother. 

Spent it all? 

God knows where. God knows where. He did not keep her in 
extreme luxury, but he kept her very, very comfortably, but she 
always spread the story that she was very poor and had to work 
for a living and took up teaching and so on and so on. And 
Flora did the same thing. At one point she was making bread-- 
you know, telling everybody that her rich and famous son was 
not giving her any money, which was totally untrue. 

Oh, she passed the rumor, did she? 

Same thing. She and Bessie became very good friends as soon as 
Jack left Bessie. Psychologically, I think this is very 
interesting. Because both women really wanted to be the center 
of attention, and when Bessie was living with Jack, she was in 
direct competition with Flora, and Flora hated her. But once 
Jack left Bessie, then suddenly they became companions in arms. 

So Flora felt neglected. 

That s right. They both felt neglected at that point, and then 
they became good friends, essentially against Jack. 



Shepard: Yes. Before that, Eliza had to keep them separate. 



"End of inserted section. 



193 

Tavernier: Yes. And at one point, when I think Flora was in one of her 

supernatural trances, the first time she did that, which Bessie 
was not familiar with, Bessie took a pitcher of water and threw 
it in her face! After that, they moved Flora out of the house, 
[laughter] 

Crawford: Are you treating Flora? 

Tavernier: Yes. She s very interesting. 

Crawford: These are all such strong women for their time. 

Tavernier: Exactly. 

Shepard: It s interesting. You can do a parallel, and you can correct 

me, Jackie, between Flora and Bessie. They both came from very 
upper middle-class families, and they had both felt that they 
had never lived, with their involvement with Jack, in the style 
that [they wanted], because they thought he had all this money, 
and they turned around and fought their whole lives. 

Tavernier: Yes. 

Crawford: Still are fighting it, right? 

Shepard: You heard a little bit of it yesterday. 

Tavernier: Yes. You know, there s a repetitive pattern which is 

absolutely fantastic. It s amazing. I ve got the feeling 
really that when he married Bessie, in a way, Jack remarried 
his mother, and he never had a good relationship with his 
mother, and there is a new theory now which seems to fit the 
situation like a glove. The author is a psychologist, Maggie 
Scarf, who wrote a book entitled Intimate Partners. She works 
on the idea that people keep repeating in their lives the 
situations which have not been sorted out, either in their own 
lives or in the lives of their parents, in the way that as a 
child you invite certain situations which you keep repeating 
until they are sorted out somehow. Actually, I wrote an 
article on Bessie and Jack which uses a little of Maggie 
Scarf s theory. It came out in the 1998 Jack London Journal 
issue. 

Shepard: It s sort of similar: a woman will be married to an alcoholic 
and she ll be divorced and she ll do it again. 

Tavernier: Exactly. And I think that in a way, Jack, when he married 
Bessie, somehow married Flora because she had very, very 
similar traits of character, which became even more obvious 
when he left Bessie, because both Bessie and Flora became the 



194 



Shepard: 
Tavernier: 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 

Shepard: 
Tavernier: 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 



eternal victims, either of a husband who was unfit or of a son 
who was unfit and did not look after them. 

And there s another pattern which is interesting, that 
when Flora had Jackagain, the circumstances surrounding 
Jack s birth are really interesting and very unfair. But once 
Jack was born, Flora really never gave him much love at all. 
She never petted him; she never pampered him. 

Essentially what love he got, he got essentially with 
John London and with Eliza, not with Flora. And in a way you 
have this feeling literally that she subconsciously blamed Jack 
for existing, or for having made her lose, in a way, Chaney as 
a man whom she hoped would marry her once she became pregnant, 
and the man with whom she was living. 

And you ve got a similar parallel with Bessie, who 
idolized her first daughter, Joan, but who apparently never 
gave Becky, her second daughter, any love and who blamed Becky. 
She told Becky that it was her fault that Jack had deserted 
her, and that, if she had not been pregnant with Becky, Jack 
would never have left her. At least that s what Becky claimed. 
If true, this was of course not only deliberately cruel but 
pure self-delusion. 

Yes. 

Which is totally untrue. But you ve got that same pattern in a 
way of the woman blaming her child for the consequences of what 
she had done herself, as if it was the child s fault for being 
born. 

Which Jack must have felt. 

Which Jack must have felt. I m convinced of it. But there s 
an interesting pattern there, which is exactly the same. 



We can add a little bit to that. 
Miller. You can explain that. 



Ida had a boy named Johnny 



Exactly, whom Flora adored, looked after, spoiled to death, and 
who came to hate Jack, too, because he felt that Jack was not 
giving him enough money, and Jack essentially was saying, "Hey, 
by now you re a grown man. You can earn your own money." But 
Flora kept Johnny Miller very, very, very late [in his life]. 

What do you make of that? Was that a transfer of affection? 

Absolutely. The affection she had never shown Jack and maybe 
never had felt for Jack, she lavished on Johnny Miller. It may 



Crawford: 



195 

also have been, I m convinced, a way of punishing Jack, too, 
because I ve seen that kind of thing happen. You know, taking 
always the side of the person who is against the child you 
dislike and want to punish. It s a fool-proof way of hurting 
someone: ostentatiously giving to one what you have withheld 
from another, especially if the one you are giving to is less 
deserving than the one you gave nothing to. 

By the way, I thought that was an interesting thing, 
because we ll never know whether that was deliberate, whether 
it was malicious, or whether it was purely accidental. We ll 
never know that. But Flora knew that Jack and Anna Strunsky 
were in love, and Flora wrote to Anna Strunsky, telling her 
that Bessie was pregnant. Could have been perfectly innocent. 
Could also have been an underhanded way of getting back at him. 

That does seem strange, doesn t it, that she would have 
communicated that. 



Tavernier: Yes. 

Crawford: Stone concludes in his book--and I guess fabricates 

conversations to the effect that Jack and Eliza spoke about 
Charmian being very childish and about his unhappiness with 
her. Is there any grounds for that? 

Tavernier: I have not found that. I know what Stone wrote. I have found 
no source for it, and from what I have seen, no grounds for it. 
What I have found much more was in fact Jack thanking Charmian 
in many little notes on that, saying that, "I know that you 
always show me a happy face, even though sometimes you aren t 
happy and sometimes things are very hard for you. But I ve 
never seen you sad in the morning. I ve never seen you 
unhappy. You ve never shown me unhappiness in the morning," 
and he was very grateful for that, and he knew she was doing it 
so as to make him happy. 

[Childish? 17 No, she was not childish, but she enjoyed 
little things as well as big ones, and she would express her 
joy and appreciation. This is probably why some people 
portrayed her as childish, in particular Joan. It was a way of 
putting Charmian down. Have you ever noticed how some people 
can resent others who appear to be happy and always have to 
find fault with them? One could not fault Charmian openly for 
being happy, nor could one fault her for not being 
accomplished she was infinitely more so than her criticsso a 
handy criticism was that she was childish. She was joyful, 



"Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 



196 

rather, and it was not because she was stupid. In fact, she 
was extremely intelligent and, recognizing that being miserable 
was bad for her health (as it is for everybody s) and made her 
poor company, she decided very young to do everything she could 
to be happy and appear happy. 

And Jack was greatly appreciative of that aspect of her 
character. She liked to play and play-act, she enjoyed beauty 
and beautiful things, she looked after her body, enjoying 
massages, beauty spas, et cetera, and she looked after her 
mind, in the same way, by trying to find something positive to 
hold on to. I remember reading a note recently where she says 
something to the effect that the world is her oyster, and that 
she opens it every day to find a pearl in it, and that, if she 
does not find it, it is her own fault. Talk about a positive 
philosophy of life. She controls what she can, she does not 
try to control what she cannot, and she tries to find the 
positive in negative situations. No wonder Jack loved being 
with her. Really, her personality seems to have been the 
dramatic opposite of Bessie s.] 18 

Crawford: Do you think they were happy until his death? 
Tavernier: Yes, I think they were. 



Scholarship about London: The Jack London Society 



Crawford: Good. Well, now let s shift gears here and go to the Jack 

London Society, of which you re president. Tell me about that. 

Tavernier: Oh, well, I m soon not to be president any more. I ve been 

president for the past two years, and I m going to pass on the 
torch to Larry Berkove. 

Crawford: What s the scope of the society, and the level of scholarship? 

Tavernier: I think a lot of work is being done, and a lot of very good 
work is being done. It s a very international society, and 
there s also a French Jack London Society; there s a Japanese 
Jack London Society. For instance, a few years ago I was 
invited to a conference of women in China because I work on 
Jack London. 

Crawford: What is the connection? 



"End of inserted section. 



197 



Tavernier: Because they knew I was working on women in Jack London s work 
and life, and I gave a paper there in China at I think the very 
first international women s conference in China. They love 
Jack London. Jack London is very, very well known all over the 

world. 

Crawford: Is it the socialism that appeals in China? 

Tavernier: I don t think so. Socialism has something to do with it, but I 
think mostly it s the vitality, the adventure stories, the 
general humanity. I mean, his stories are--how can I say?-- 
universal, really. You don t need to belong to a particular 
country to understand what he s dramatizing in Call of the 
Wld-, what he s dramatizing in the Stories of the North. 

Shepard: I m going to interject here. The (Jack London] Society is an 
affiliate of the American Literature Association--ALA. The 
members give papers at meetings throughout the United States, 
and the Society sponsors yearly panels. All members are 
encouraged to submit papers to these panels. In addition, the 
Society holds a biennial conference. 

Tavernier: That s right. We usually have two panels at the ALA. 

Shepard: The Society was established because the Jack London scholars at 
the ALA didn t necessarily have a panel-- 

Tavernier: Especially at the MLA [Modern Language Association]. 

Shepard: They don t recognize scholars, unless they have an association. 

Crawford: Oh, so the Society broke away from the MLA, feeling that London 
was not getting his due. 

Tavernier: Well, actually, ALA broke away from MLA, and ALA was created. 
It was a mini-revolution of Americanists against the MLA. How 
long has the ALA existed now? Quite a few years. My God, ten, 
fifteen years? 

Shepard: Yes, 78. 

Tavernier: Alfred Bendixen, who didn t come- -he s the one who created the 
ALA. 

Crawford: Representing North American and South American literature? 

Tavernier: No, I think it s only North American, I think. It s only North 
American. And it s focused very much like the MLA. It s an 
association of societies. 



198 

Shepard: There is a lot of politics that was occurring with the MLA. 
And so this was foreign to-- 

Tavernier: That s right. And it really took everybody by surprise because 
ALA just bloomed, became enormous, very, very, very quickly, 
because a lot of Americanists flocked to ALA. MLA tended to 
accept papers only on topics which were fashionable and was 
very partial to papers on theory and on very specific topics. 
If you did not fall within their chosen topics, you had little 
chance of having a paper accepted. 

Crawford: What was the MLA focus at that point? 

Shepard: Well, it was at the start of the homosexuality [question] and 
sexual stuff being presented. It was really that the Eastern 
establishment did not accept these Western authors, or Western 
professors. 

Tavernier: Also straight literary scholarship or analysis which does not 
have a politically correct ax to grind on such topics as 
sexuality or racism. So, many of the author societies decided 
to affiliate themselves to ALA as well as to MLA; some of them 
were also created for what seemed to be a more open forum. The 
ALA is now very big, with spring annual meetings alternating 
between the East and West Coasts, and smaller meetings on 
specific topics in various places during the year. 

Crawford: I see. So there would be societies focused on other authors. 

Tavernier: Oh, yes, the Frank Norris Society, Theodore Dreiser Society-- 

Shepard: Mark Twain. 

Tavernier: Mark Twain Society, Steinbeck Society. 

Shepard: Some people belong to two or three different societies. 

Crawford: Do you belong to various ones? 

Tavernier: Well, I ve been on and off in the Frank Norris Society, the 
Sinclair Lewis Society for a while, the Dreiser Society. 

Shepard: You also read about Hemingway. 

Tavernier: Yes, I did quite a bit of work on Hemingway and Fitzgerald, 

too, so I used to be a member of the Hemingway Society. I m on 
and off a member of the Hemingway Society. I was actually one 
of the founding members of the Hemingway Society, and I m part 
of the Fitzgerald Society also. 



199 

Crawford: So you ve had many meetings. 
Tavernier: Yes! 
Crawford: What do you look for at these meetings? What do you hope for? 

Tavernier: Well, usually, first of all, comparing notes and being able to 
talk with scholars who work on the same things as I do, being 
able to listen to new ideas, being able to bounce off my own 
ideas. 

Shepard: And some of these collections are so extensive, someone may 
find something. They report that at such-and-such a place, 
they found this; there is a lot of information going back and 
forth at these sessions. It s amazing. 

Tavernier: Exactly. I ve worked for over twenty years by now at the 
Huntington Library, on and off, but the collection is so 
massive that there s no way to exhaust it. 

Crawford: Is there a scholarly trend that you do not agree with but that 
is respected? 

Tavernier: [I always agree with serious scholarship, although I must 

acknowledge I am not very fond of theory, especially with the 
use of jargon which makes reading a punishment rather than a 
pleasure. 1 I must say, though, that I use theory too, mostly 
psychoanalytical theory, but I do my best to keep it under 
control and not go overboard one way or the other.] 

Crawford: So there s never very much controversy at these meetings. 
Because London was such a controversial man in his life. 

Tavernier: You know, it s interesting. I belong to various societies, and 
the London Society is by far one of the most if not the most 
congenial that I ve been in. Except for little problems, as we 
had yesterday! [laughter] 



Questions about the London Inheritance 



Crawford: Talk about that just briefly, and how that would be handled. 
You re president. How did you handle that? 



"Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 



200 

Tavernier: It s rather difficult. You ve really got to be very, very 
careful. But the problem is it s very, very difficult to 
reason with family members who claim they have material but 
don t want to show it or to give you access to it, and want you 
to change your mind with no evidence to make you change your 
mind. 

[Two years ago, while I was writing my long essay on Jack 
and Bessie, which will be part of my book, I tried very hard to 
convince Helen Abbot to give me access to the material of 
Bessie s she claims can disprove my point of view. 20 But she 
refused, saying she was keeping it exclusively for Clarice. It 
was very frustrating, because she kept making assertions about 
Jack which I well knew were uninformed, as I had seen evidence 
to the contrary time and again at the Huntington and at Utah 
State essentially , she was giving me the same old story which 
Bessie had propagated during her lifetime. I think she thought 
she was doing Clarice a favor; but I think she was wrong, 
because, unless several scholars have access to the same 
material, whatever a scholar says, which cannot be verified, is 
by definition suspect. Not that I believe that Clarice would 
deliberately mislead. I don t. But we all see things through 
colored lenses, no matter how hard we try to be objective (and 
I try very hard). So, unless several of the colored lenses are 
allowed to see the same thing, the vision of a single one 
cannot be taken at face value. It s sad, because it seems to 
be a continuation of what happened during Jack s lifetime, and 
it is just as self-defeating. In scholarship, you can t let 
emotion supersede facts, or you re in trouble.] 21 

Crawford: Would she be invited to be on a panel? These great 
grandchildren? 

Tavernier: They are. At this conference, Helen Abbot, Clarice, and I were 
on the same panel. 

Shepard: Well, I just want to mention that this problem came up before, 
and the way Jeannie handled it--she told the families that this 
is a literary meeting of people. 

Tavernier: That s right. 

Shepard: Analyzing London s work hasn t anything to do with family. 

Tavernier: I know, but unfortunately they don t always listen. 



20 Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 
21 End of inserted section. 



201 

Crawford: So you feel that was properly handled. 
Tavernier: Very good handling. 

Shepard: They were told before this meeting, and not only those people. 
There s a man who thinks he s Jack London, and another one 
thinks he s Charmian London. The one who thinks he s Jack 
London- -Jeannie said, "We ought to get the two of them 
together, and maybe they ll get married." [laughter] 

Shepard: I mean, you get all kinds of kooks in this business, but 

Jeannie has held it very well. I Just wanted to put in that 
these people were told that we don t want to get into the 
family matters [at the conference). They hate Waring Jones 
with a passion, because he has all of Joan s material. 

Tavernier: That s right. 
Crawford: He acquired it fairly. 

Tavernier: That s right. He bought it. They sold the stuff. Joan sold a 
lot of her letters. She probably needed the money. 



Collections of London Materials 



Crawford: Is that a very valuable collection, Joan s collection, which 
Waring Jones has bought? 

Shepard: It has become. Those holograph letters are very valuable to 
collectors. 

Tavernier: Yes. I would love to see them! 

Shepard: They haven t been opened, and we re trying to get Waring to 
donate that stuff to the Huntington Library instead of to 
Sonoma State. The Sonoma State collection is mainly secondary 
material. I m not putting down his collection. 

Tavernier: The material which has been given to Sonoma. 

Shepard: That s just the Bernatovich collection. He got a group of men, 
I believe, to buy it and then donate it for tax purposes to 
Sonoma State. Waring Jones got the Bernatovich collection and 
immediately went to Sonoma State. This other material that he 
has, he s had for years. 



202 



Tavernier : 
Shepard: 

Crawford: 

Tavernier: 
Crawford: 

Tavernier: 

Shepard: 
Tavernier: 
Shepard: 
Tavernier: 



Shepard: 
Tavernier: 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 



So which is it that Susan Nuernberg is going to catalogue and 
work on? 

It s all catalogued; that is the Bernatovich collection. I 
don t know what she s going to do unless they put it under a 
different system. 

I d like to talk to Waring about those collections in some 
detail. 



And I would love to see his letters. 



laughs] 



Talk about the collections for a minute. In your research, how 
do you value them? 

Oh, they re invaluable. I mean, without them there s no way to 
do any serious research. The Huntington Library s collection 
is enormous. It s massive. 

I ll interject right here that if it hadn t been for Charmian-- 
Nothing would exist, 
--nothing would exist. 

Because Bessie kept nothing. Jack used to throw away all his 
little notes. And it is Charmian, when she started typing for 
him, who said, "Listen, I type all that stuff for you, but I 
would like to keep the manuscripts." He said okay. So all the 
manuscripts, she kept everything. And this is the collection. 

She made copies of all the letters. 

All the letters were typed with carbon copies. Most of them. 
And she kept letters. But she was very good. After Jack s 
death, she sent back to his correspondents the letters they had 
sent him. She sent back to Anna Strunsky her letters to Jack. 
She sent back to Cloudesley Johns Johns s letters to Jack. She 
did the same with Bessie. 

Of course, all the others gave them back, either put them 
in a library or sent them to Charmian when she did her book. 
Anna Strunsky s letters are largely at Yale, and so on. 
Bessie s letters are the ones which are few and far between. 
The family says they have them. I don t know. 

What do they claim to have? 

Piles of letters and documents. But I don t know. What 
puzzles me is that if they really do have so many documents 



203 



Crawford: 



Tavernier ; 



Shepard: 

Tavernier: 

Shepard: 

Tavernier: 
Shepard: 
Tavernier: 
Shepard: 



Crawford: 
Tavernier: 



which give a different picture of Bessie than the one which is 
more or less generally accepted, why are they hoarding them 
instead of making them available? 



They don t have to hand them over; they could copy them, 
they haven t? 



But 



No. Only Clarice has access to that, Clarice Stasz. (They 
seem to be very short-sighted and only want to show what they 
have to somebody who they think will take Bessie s side." 
They just don t seem to understand what scholarship is about. 
They think that Irving Stone is great because he gave such a 
nasty review of Charmian and portrayed Bessie as a poor victim, 
and don t care that his book is more fiction than reality and 
that he would not let facts get in the way of sensational 
story. I found a very telling note in his manuscripts to that 
effect. He did not give a fig for the facts, and the only 
thing he was afraid of was that Charmian might sue him and that 
he would get into serious trouble.]" 

I saw some of it. 
You saw some of it? 

What it is is copies that Joan made when she was writing this 
book, Jack London and His Daughters. That material came from 
Joan s work onwhat was itJack London and His Times? 

Yes. But Joan worked at the ranch and at the Huntington. 

That s right. 

Which means they would have nothing original. 

That s why they got upset with Waring Jones, because he won t 
give them access. He gave Earle and Bob and I access to all 
the material he had, and we selected the letters we wanted to 
use in the letters. But Waring would not give them access to 
them. Joan didn t have access, so the material they have is 
really fuzzy. 

But they do claim they have letters that no one else has seen. 
I am very suspicious. 



"Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 
"End of inserted section. 



204 

Shepard: I m very suspicious, very suspicious, because there were copies 
made, and all the correspondence after Charmian definitely-- 
there were copies made of all the letters. 

Tavernier: I suppose what they could have are Bessie s letters to Jack, 
which Charmian returned to Bessie and which have not surfaced 
anywhere except for a few at the Huntington and a few at Logan. 

Crawford: What collections have you used? 

Tavernier: Well, obviously extensively the Huntington for a long time. 

I ve been a couple of times at Logan, at Utah State, in Logan, 
Utah. I worked there twice for one week. They have quite a 
bit. It is the second largest collection after the Huntington. 
It s not as big, by any stretch of the imagination, but it s a 
very substantial collection, too. I ve worked at UCLA. You 
said you were talking to Jean Stone. Well, that collection, 
which was at UCLA, is now at Berkeley, as you know. 

Crawford: Yes. 

Tavernier: So I ve worked there, at UCLA. The collection was quite a 

mess, and a lot of things were missing, which were itemized but 
which I did not find, so I don t know if they were just 
misplaced or missing. Apparently, Jean Stone had come quite a 
few times shortly before I went to work there, and apparently 
she had rifled through the collection and taken some stuff. 

[ 24 The sources for this information were the librarians 
who were working in the manuscripts section. After I had found 
many items missing and some items which were clearly out of 
order, in the wrong envelopes, and /or did not correspond to the 
catalogue description, I went to see them to figure out what 
was going on. It is then that they told me that Jean Stone had 
worked in the collection, taken some stuff out, and, I guess 
mixed things up. They had not been able to prevent it. It 
made working in the collection a nightmare, and I gave up after 
four or five days, as it seemed that anything which could be 
useful was gone or was misfiled.] 25 

Crawford: Interesting. Well, we ll end here. 



Transcribed by Him Eisenberg 
Final Typed by Shannon Page 



"Bracketed section inserted by Professor Tavernier. 
"End of inserted section. 



205 



TAPE GUIDE- -Milo Shepard 



Interview 1: September 5, 2000 

Tape 1A, Side A [master copy recorded on wrong speed] 
Tape 1A, Side B 

Interview 2: September 14, 2000 
Tape 2, Side A 
Tape 2, Side B 
Tape 3, Side A 
Tape 3, Side B 

Interview 3: September 20, 2000 
Tape 4, Side A 
Tape 4, Side B 
Insert from Tape 3, Side B 
Resume Tape 4, Side B 
Tape 5, Side A 
Tape 5, Side B 

Interview 4: September 27, 2000 
Tape 6, Side A 
Tape 6, Side B 
Tape 7, Side A 
Tape 7, Side B 

Interview 5: October 4, 2000 
Tape 8, Side A 
Tape 8, Side B 
Tape 9, Side A 
Tape 9, Side B not recorded 



INTERVIEW WITH SUE HODSON, JEANNE REESMAN, AND WARING JONES 
Date of Interview: October 14, 2000 
Tape 1, Side A 
Tape 1, Side B 

INTERVIEW WITH JACQUELINE TAVERNIER 

Date of Interview: October 13, 2000 
Tape 1, Side A 
Tape 1, Side B 



21 
31 
42 
51 



52 
62 
64 
68 
74 
83 



88 

98 

106 

116 



126 
135 
144 



155 
165 



173 
188 



206 



INDEX--Milo Shepard 



Abbott, Bart, 40 

Abbott, Helen, 49, 200 

Abbott, Jack, 40-42 

Abbott, Joan London, 39-44, 86, 

103-104, 162, 180, 187-189, 

194, 201-203 
Abshire, Senator, 105 
Abysmal Brute, The, 7 
Agricultural Preservation and Open 

Space District, 127 
Aigner, Jill Shepard, 14, 15, 78, 

129, 152 

Albright, Evelyn, 54-55 
Alcoholic Beverages, Tobacco and 

Firearms Agency, 106, 138 
American Legion, 9 
American Literature Association, 

169, 197-198 
Amundsen, Roald, 11 
Annadel State Park, 127, 133, 136 
Applegarth, Mabel, 44, 177 
Atlantic Monthly, 122 



Balboa Amusement Company, 99 
Bancroft Library, 46, 72, 156, 

159, 161-162 
Baskett, Sam, 166 
Baudelaire, Charles, 174 
Beaulieu vineyards, 15 
Bell, Jess, 123 
Beltane Ranch, 147 
Bendixen, Alfred, 197 
Benziger vineyards, 106 
Bernatovich, Carl, 43, 160-161, 

201 

Berkove, Larry, 196 
Bliss, Leslie, 155 
Bonvecchio family, 113 
Bordeaux wines, 138 
Bosworth, Hobart, 99 
Bronco Winery, 138 

Bronston, , 100 

Brown, Jerry, 162 
Bubka, Tony, 66 



Bunnell, Walter, 36 

Burbank, Luther, 107, 119-120, 

153 

Byrne, Ida London, 18-19, 36, 194 
Byrne, Jack, 36 



California State Parks 

Annadel State Park, 127, 133- 

137 

Jack London State Park, 8, 55, 
57-59, 63, 65-72, 102-106, 
127-129, 131-137, 153 
Millerton Lake State Park, 132 
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, 

127, 131 
California Wine Association, 19, 

93, 110 

Call of the Wild, 122, 158, 168 
Cannel artists colony, 83 
Caroline Kohler Ranch, 112-123 
Carrillo, Leo, 59 
Carson City prison, 104 
Centenary College, 30, 160 
Chaney, W. H., 1-2, 23 
Chateau St. Jean Winery, 138 
Chauvet, Henry, 14, 115-116, 123 
Chauvet Winery, 14 
Chinese laborers, 89, 114 
Civil War, 4 
collections 

Centenary College, 30, 160 
Huntington Library, 53, 58, 
65-66, 69, 74, 155-159, 165, 
168-169, 171-172 
Sonoma State University, 160- 

161, 201, 203 
Utah State University, 33, 54, 

65, 85, 154, 159 
conservation issues, 133 
copyright laws, 101 
Cowan, Hazen, 50-51, 73, 80, 109 
Crilley family, 109 



207 



Davies, 



63 



Depression, the, 98, 101, 113 

Dirigo, 42, 66 

Dillon, Guy, 26 

Dillon, Hilo, 26 

Dutch naval rescue mission, 33 

Dyer, Dan, 158 



Fames, Ninetta, 10, 22-23, 92-95, 

112, 125, 178, 189-191 
Eames, Roscoe, 94-95, 182 
Editions Phebus (Paris), 164 
Everhard, Ernest, 34 



Farr, Albert, 67 

films (London works) , 99-101, 160 

Fish Ranch, 94, 112 

Fiske, Minnie Maddern, 181, 190 

Forni, Natale, 86 

four-horse trip, 26, 56, 65 

Freund Ranch, 51, 115 

Frolich, Finn, 36-37, 85 



Glen Ellen, 13, 91, 94-95, 113, 

130 

Glen Ellen Winery, 106 
gold mining 

California, 4 

Klondike, 37 
Grand Army of the Republic, 5, 9 

Green, , 83 

Growell, Willard, 30 



Hacienda Wineries, 106 

Hamilton, Fannie, 121 

Hamilton, Mike, 80 

Hart, James, 156 

Hemingway, Ernest, 49, 168, 170, 

174, 198 

Hendricks, King, 54 
Hispanic labor, 142-147 
Hodson, Sue (Sara), Int. 155-172 
Holman, Zena, 17-18 
Holmes Books, 40 
Homestead Act, 51 
Houdini, Harry, 47, 182, 184 



"House is Burning, A" (KPIX-TV) , 
25 

House of Happy Walls, 22-23, 48- 
50, 52-58, 62-63, 103, 110, 154 

Hull, Cordell, 10, 181, 183 

Huntington Library, 28-29, 33, 
35, 40-41, 46, 53, 58, 65-66, 
69, 74, 155-159, 165, 168-169, 
171-172, 177, 199, 201-204 

Huntington Library Trade press, 
168 



immigrant labor, 147-148 

inheritance tax, 63, 105 

Italian laborers, 89, 91-92, 102- 
103, 113 



Jack London Foundation, 45 

Jack London Ranch 

acquisition of, 108-116 
crops on, 107, 112-118 
dairy, 15, 117-118, 131 
eucalyptus groves, 118, 135 
guest ranch, 6-17, 55-56 
hollow-block silos, 120, 126 
irrigation, 116 
lake, 88, 93, 125 
land conservation, 114, 125 
livestock, 89, 117-118 
outbuildings, 22-26, 89-91. 
See also Wolf House, House of 

Happy Walls, 
rules, 121, 124 
state park, 8, 55, 57-59, 63, 
65-72, 102-106, 111, 127- 
129, 131-137, 153 
vineyards, 15, 20, 115, 135, 

137-154 

workers, 89-92, 96, 114, 142- 
146 

Jack London Society, 169, 171, 
196-199 

Johns, Cloudesley, 85, 123, 
202 

Johnson, Martin, 48 

Jones, Waring, 27, 40, 42-43, 
45, 201, 203, Int. 155-172 

Jurgewitz family, 36 



208 



Kempton-Uace Letters, 84, 187 
Ken magazine, 70, 110 
Kenwood Winery, 138-139, 152 
Kingman, Russ, 3-4, 30, 34, 

45, 80 

Kingman, Winnie, 45 
Kittredge, Charmian. See 

London, Charmian Kittredge. 
Klondike gold rush, 37, 85, 

163, 168, 178 
Kohler-Frohling Ranch, 8, 14 



Labor, Earle, 3, 29-30, 39, 
45, 53, 72-77, 86, 160, 164, 
166-167, 203 

Lachman Furniture Company, 16 

La Luz, 143 

La Motte Ranch, 23, 94, 112, 
123-124 

Lake County, 151 

Lake Sonoma, 128 

Lane, Rose Wilder, 106 

Larkin, Professor, 107-108 

Ledson Ranch, 118 

Leitz, Bob, 73-74 

Lewis, Sinclair, 56 

Little Lady of the Big House, 177 

London, Becky, 40-42, 180, 187- 
189, 194 

London, Bessie Maddern, 11-12, 
20, 23, 40-41, 47,170, 175-181, 
186-196, 200, 202-204 

London, Charmian Kittredge, 10, 
13, 16-18, 21-35, 38-39, 40-42, 
44-50, 52-57, 59, 63-72, 74-78, 
80-83, 86, 91-94, 97, 99, 102, 
106, 109, 115, 117, 121-123, 
175-191, 195-196, 202-204 

London, Eliza Shepard. See 
Shepard, Eliza London. 

London, Flora Wellman, 11-12, 18, 
175-176, 187, 192-195 

London, Ida. See Byrne, Ida 
London. 

London, Jack 

biographies of, 68-72, 74-77, 
80-87, 164. See also Earle 
Labor, Andrew Sinclair, 
Irving Stone, Harvey Taylor. 



London, Jack (cont d.) 
childhood, 1-4 
collections. See Centenary 
College, Huntington Library, 
Sonoma State University, Utah 
State University, 
death, 75-78 
estate of, 40, 55, 101-102, 

200 

fame, 164, 169, 196-197 
family. See John, Flora, 

Bessie, Charmian, Joan, 

Becky London. 

films of works, 52, 62, 99 
publishers, 119, 121 
race issues, 148, 163, 170 
ranching, 23, 52, 58, 92-98, 

107-121, 123-126, 153 
royalties, 62 
sailing voyages. See Dlrigo, 

Snark. 

scholarship, 155-204 
socialist activities, 39, 59- 

60, 96, 121, 126, 197 
Stanford publications, 65, 73, 

170 
translations of works, 64-65, 

164, 167 
war correspondent activities, 

61-62 
works of, 34-35, 38, 44-45, 

56, 72, 83, 86, 104, 108, 

110, 121 
London, Joan. See Abbott, Joan 

London. 
London, John, 1-5, 8, 47, 176, 

194 
London, Joy, 12 



Maddern, Bessie. See London, 

Bessie Maddern. 
Martin Eden, 35, 175 
Macmillan publishers, 65 
magazines, 121-122 
Martinez, Xavier, 39 
Mauberret, Noel, 164 
Meglen, Bill, 114 
Merrill Lynch Company, 16 
Mexican laborers, 147 



209 



Miller, Johnny, 18-19, 194 

Miller, Tommy, 18-19 

Modern Language Association, 197- 

198 

Mondavi Winery, 150, 152 
Morrell, Ed, 104 
Mott, William Penn, 132, 137 
Murphy, Celeste, 86 
Murray, Celeste, 86 



NAFTA (North American Free Trade 

Association) , 146 
Nakata, 23 
Napa Valley Vineyard Management 

Company, 151 
Napa Ridge Winery, 138 
Nuernberg, Susan, 161, 202 



O Brien, Frederick, 185 

Orfans, Spiro, 80 

Overland Monthly, 10, 23, 25, 94 



Pagani family, 147 

Partington, Blanche, 46 

Payne, Edward, 94 

PEN, 53, 86 

People of the Abyss, 164, 170-171 

phylloxera, 140 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 174-175 

Porter, Dr., 77 

Prentiss, Mammy Jennie, 5, 176 



race issues, 148, 163, 170 
railroad travel, 125 
Reesraan, Jeanne, 50, 53, Int. 

155-172, 200-201 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 62 
Russo-Japanese war, 61-62 



Sailor on Horseback, 68, 74-77, 

80-87 

St. Malo Festival, 164 
San Francisco Press Club, 123 
San Francisco Public Library, 161 
Scarf, Maggie, 193 



Schultz, Charles, 43 

Sea Wolf (film), 99 

Sebastiani Winery, 89 

Shepard, Eliza London, 1-14, 16, 

23, 25-27, 30, 36-38, 44, 50, 

52, 67, 70, 77-78, 80-82, 85, 

92, 96-102, 115-116, 175-176, 

181-186, 192-195, 197 
Shepard, Irving, 2, 5, 7, 12-13, 

16, 27, 30, 37-45, 49-50, 58, 

59, 63, 66, 73, 98-103, 108,131 
Shepard (Irving) Trust, 58, 154 
Shepard, Jack, 14, 16, 18-20, 39, 

78-79, 131, 176 
Shepard, James, 4-9, 26 
Shepard, Jill Aigner. See Aigner, 

Jill Shepard 

Shepard, Joy, 14, 16, 76, 69, 151 
Shepard, Mildred Ranker, 13, 16- 

19, 26, 49, 81, 91 
Shepard, Milo, 25, 30, 35, 41-42, 

78-79, 160, 173-204 
Sinclair, Andrew, 44, 49, 74, 82 
Sinclair, Upton, 78 
Slater, Herbert, 86 
Smith, Laurie, 54 
Snarfc voyage, 48, 94-95, 159 
Sonoma Mountain Conservancy, 129 
Sonoma State Conservancy, 129 
Sonoma State University, 160-161, 

201, 203 

Sonoma Valley wines, 138 
Stanford University Press, 123, 

163, 166 

Star Rover, The, 104, 110, 164 
Starr, Kevin, 87 
Stasz, Clarice, 47, 49, 118, 200, 

203 
Sterling, George, 24, 35, 48, 77, 

159 

Stevenson, Robert Louis, 57 
Stone, Irving, 7-8, 17, 27, 29- 

30, 40, 50, 68-72, 74-77, 80- 

87, 94, 97, 110, 113, 125-127, 

179, 195, 202 

Stone, Jean, 68-72, 84, 179, 204 
Str awn-Hamilton, Frank, 83, 92 
Strouse, Norman, 58 
Strunsky, Anna. See Walling, Anna 

Strunsky. 



210 
Sunset magazine, 106-107 



Tavernier, Jacqueline, 24, A9-50, 

84, Int. 173, 204 
taxes 

California State, 127 
Taylor, Harvey, 27, 29,47, 179 
Tennant, Roy, 160 
Thomson, Dr. Allan, 76, 85 
Thompson, Fred, 85, 125 
train travel, 134-125 
transcontinental railroad, 89 
Twain, Mark, 168 



United States Department of Parks 

and Recreation, 132 
United States Park Service, 132 
University of California 

Berkeley, 46, 72, 84, 204 

Davis, 107-108 

Los Angeles, 84, 204 
Utah State University, 54, 65, 

85, 154, 159, 204 



Valley of the Moon, The, 34, 44- 

45, 95, 108-110, 114, 177 
Van Gogh, Vincent, 69 
Viotte, Michel, 164 
Viteland, Max, 33-34 



Wake Robin, 8, 22-3, 93-94 

Walker, Dale, 163 

Walling, Anna Strunsky, 24, 30, 

49, 84, 259, 175, 182, 186-189, 

195, 202 

"We the People," 31 
Wellman, Flora. See London, Flora 

Wellman. 

Whitaker, Herman, 39 
Wilcox, Earl, 166 
Wolf House, 17-18, 65-67, 110- 

111, 115-117 
Wood, Jay, 24 
Woodbridge, Hensley, 167 



Caroline Cooley Crawford 

Born and raised in La Canada, California. 

Graduated from Stanford University, B.A. in linguistics. 

Postgraduate work at University of Geneva, certificate in 
international law and linguistics. 

Degree in keyboard performance from Royal College of Musicians, 
London. 

Copy editor for Saturday Review Magazine, 1973-1974. 

Staff writer and press officer for San Francisco Opera, 1974- 
1979. 

Co-Director for Peace Corps (Eastern Caribbean), 1980-1983. 

Music reviewer for Palo Alto Times, Oakland Tribune, Marin 
Independent Journal, BCN wire service, 1974-present . Published 
Prague: Walks with Mozart, Dvorak, and Smetana, 1995. Pianist 
with Bread & Roses, 1994-present. 

Interviewer-editor in music and family history for the Regional 
Oral History Office, 1985-present. UC Extension instructor in 
journalism. 



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