What was happening in America 100 years ago, 1912?

At the very start of the year, the American Association of Painters & Sculptors [AAP&S] holds its second meeting and elects Arthur B. Davies, 49, president. Many of the founders, hang out at Petitpas with visiting Irish painter, Jack Yeats, 73.

Mabel Dodge, 33, has begun hosting writers, artists and political radicals such as Emma Goldman, 43, Frances Picabia, 33, and John Reed, 25, in her Greenwich Village salon. At midnight she often serves food to match the pastel interior of her home at 5th Avenue and 9th Street: turkey, ham, white cheese.

Mabel Dodge

Early in the year, the Abbey Theatre, founded seven years ago by Jack Yeats’ son, William, 47, and Lady Augusta Gregory, 60, is finishing up its tour of America. After performing The Playboy of the Western World by another Abbey founder, the late John Millington Synge, the company is arrested in Philadelphia for obscenity. They are bailed out and defended by Lady Gregory’s friend, Irish-American art collector and lawyer, John Quinn, 42.

The Playboy of the Western World, Boston, 1911

Quinn has begun his collection by buying two drawings by Henri Matisse, 42, from the 291 gallery run by Alfred Stieglitz, 48, just days before Matisse’s second US exhibit opens there. Stieglitz has written to Gertrude Stein, 38, in Paris asking if he could publish her written ‘portraits’ of Matisse and Picasso, along with their photos, in an upcoming issue of his magazine Camera Work.

Camera Work, 1912

In April, as 705 survivors of the RMS Titanic disaster arrive in New York City aboard the RMS Carpathia, Davies begins negotiating to rent the 69th Regiment Armoury on Lexington between 35th and 26th for the AAP&S art show next spring.

Over in New Jersey, the Phalanx commune is falling on hard times, and Alexander Woollcott, 25, who has grown up there, moves out. Through a family friend he gets a job on the New York Times, and at the end of April is sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to interview 306 RMS Titantic survivors who were picked up in the North Atlantic. Soon after, he is made drama critic at the Times.

In May, 11,000 people, including 1,000 men, march in New York City to support women’s right to vote.

Suffragettes march in New York City

Dorothy Rothschild, 19, having graduated from Miss Dana’s School the year before, supports women’s rights, smokes cigarettes, writes poems, and is looking for her own apartment and job in Manhattan.

That summer, Quinn is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Having seen politics up close, and watching his friend lose the nomination to New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson, 55, Quinn vows to give it up and devote himself to using his law background to collecting art and supporting artists. He hopes that there he will find men with principles.

John Quinn

Quinn writes to his friend painter Augustus John, 34, that if he had had a wife and kids, ‘for whom I should want to make and leave a name,’ he would have run for public office, but ‘as a confirmed bachelor with no progeny’ he had no need to leave a mark on history.

Emmanuel Radnitzky, 22, is studying art at the Ferrer School. By the end of the year he will have his first show; even his student work is signed ‘Man Ray.’

The Kaufman family moves from Pittsburgh, PA, to New York City, and Dad starts the New York Silk Dyeing company. But their son George, 22, has a new mentor, top NYC columnist FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 30], who finds the young writer a job on the Washington DC Times with an anti-Semitic editor.  George spends most of his time playing poker at the National Press Club, until the editor walks into the newsroom one day and asks, ‘What’s that Jew doing in my city room?’ and fires Kaufman. He moves back to New York.

George S Kaufman

In Boston, MA, Robert Benchley, 22, is president of the prestigious Harvard Lampoon where he has organized a parody of Life magazine. He doesn’t manage to graduate with his class, which includes Joseph P. Kennedy, 23, because he answered an exam question about maritime law from the point of view of the fish. Bob announces his engagement to his high school sweetheart, Gertrude Darling [really], 23, a music teacher, but has turned down the chance to have a column in the Boston Journal because he feels he’d hate to have to be funny every day. By the end of the year he moves to New York City to work with the Urban League.

Robert Benchley

Itinerant reporter Harold Ross, 19, has been traveling around Arizona and New Mexico, and is now heading for Panama to work on the Canal and a local newspaper. By Thanksgiving he is back in the US as a writer for the New Orleans Item.

In Minneapolis, MN, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 16, has been writing librettos, and manages to improve Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. A bit farther west, in Oak Park, IL, Ernest Hemingway, 13, has written a poem about the Chicago Cubs. In March, both appear in their school plays.

By that summer, Scott has written, directed and produced The Coward, which is performed to a sell-out crowd as a fund-raiser for a local charity.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

And on a Thursday morning in November, in Elyria, OH, part-time writer and full-time businessman Sherwood Anderson, 36, looks out the window of his office, and writes a note to his wife:  ‘Cornelia: There is a bridge over a river with cross-ties before it. When I come to that I’ll be all right. I’ll write all day in the sun and the wind will blow thru my hair. –Sherwood.’ Then he stands up, mumbles something to his secretary, and walks out.

Five days later he walks into a drugstore in Cleveland, in the same clothes, with mud on his trousers. He gives his address book to the druggist, asking him to figure out who he is. Sherwood is taken to Elyria Hospital. His wife brings him to stay with her family for a while. But from that time on he knows he is committed to be a writer.

Sherwood Anderson

At the end of the year Davies reports back to the AAP&S about his successful art hunting trip to Europe. They appoint a committee, and their public relations person asks Mabel Dodge to write a piece about her friend, Gertrude Stein. Dodge contributes $200, and convinces her mother to chip in, as does painter Jack Yeats, using money he gets from Quinn and his own son William Butler Yeats back in Ireland.

On to the Armory Show!

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