Copyright 1972 Yarmouth Register, Yarmouth, Massachusetts; reproduced with permission. A $250,000 endowment trust from the Charles Henry Davis estate helped found the Elverhøj Museum.
Charles Henry Davis: Amazing Millionaire
By Ted Frothingham
One Sunday in the early 20's, a distinguished looking gentleman was vigorously escorted out of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. His crime was wearing a hat indoors. "I'm a Quaker," he protested, "and Quakers wear their hats out of respect even in church. I'm damned if I'll take it off."
The man was Charles Henry Davis, an engineer who was to make several fortunes and have a unique impact on Cape Cod.
About 1880 my father, Theodore Longfellow Frothingham, visited the Hallowell family at their summer home on Bass River. It was on River Street in what was called "The Lower Village" in those days. Today the home (owned by the Churchill family) is in its original condition, kept by the heirs of one of the first families to summer here.
Father, in 1880, was a freshman at Harvard College and lived with his family on Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. During his Cape visit he met Charles Henry, who was always known to his friends as Carl Davis.
C.H.D. was a young engineer whose forebears had come from Nantucket. He had been born and brought up in Philadelphia.
Besides being an engineer he was also a businessman, writer and inventor. Politics consumed much of his interest. He was a yachtsman who founded the Bass River Yacht Club before the turn of the century. Tennis was an abiding interest.
He was most famous for the Kentenia Corporation which for years supplied coal to Ford Motor Company. The mines were in Harlan County, Kentucky embracing most of the county.
He founded and administered the National Highways Assn., parent of our nation-wide road system today. The U.S. Route shields attest to his works. The present rotary traffic patterns and divided highways were products of his thought.
He was a visionary and idealist, and lover of all mankind. His favorite poem was the one that starts, "I want to live in a house by the side of the road, and be a friend of man . . ." Yet like many outstanding men, he had enemies who deprecated him and all his works.
He was a Quaker, as were many of his family. A search of the records would show he was descended from Tristram Coffyn of Nantucket and the names of Mayhew, Starbuck and Folger appear in the family tree.
It was because of my father's friendship and business relationships with C.H.D. that we came to Cape Cod first as summer residents, back in 1907. Father purchased seven acres of land from Carl Davis, onto which he moved our home from West Harwich. Nelson Eldredge flaked the house and trucked it by horse and cart. I have a picture of Carl Davis and my mother and father setting the corner stone of our newly arrived home one bleak day in November of that year.
Father, whose law office was in New York at the time, used to make frequent trips to Cape Cod by the Fall River Line and the Old Colony Railroad to advise Mr. Davis. One of my earliest recollections was a Christmas spent with the Davis family at South Yarmouth Lower Village in "The House of the Seven Chimneys".
In those days Carl Davis was married to Grace Bigelow Davis and had started his family of six daughters: Helen Maria Davis and Martha Mott Davis were my contemporaries and childhood playmates. Today Patty Mott is Mrs. Viggo Brandt-Erichsen, a noted artist and teacher, and lives in Solvang, Calif. Her next youngest sister, Priscilla Matteson is a nurse in a Santa Barbara hospital. Helen Maria died a number of years ago in Los Angeles.
The family is scattered. Anna Lawton Samstag has lived for many years with her artist husband in Australia, and the youngest daughter, Frances Bigelow Davis, lives and works in Boston.
Grace Bigelow was Charles Henry's second wife. His first was Helen Hines, sister of Alice Stone, affectionately known to the Bass River community as "Aunty Alice". Alice and her husband William Stone owned the windmill that now belongs to the Town of Yarmouth and sits at the foot of Willow Street on Bass River. It was moved from her property next door to "The Seven Chimneys" a few years ago, and Aunt Alice told me that the mill originally came from Grand Cove where it ground corn for many years.
Helen Hines, like her sister Alice, was a noted artist, but died early in life. The building on the left as you enter Ship Shops Drive originally was Helen Hine's studio and was built on the shore of Bass River south of the old windmill. Before it was moved, it served variously as headquarters for Carl Davis's boat crews, and Patty Mott Brandt-Erichsen's studio. I used to make weekend visits to the Cape and camp out in "The Bungalow" as the studio was then known.
It had two huge fireplaces to sleep in front of. Fireplaces were a specialty of Uncle Carl. He was Uncle Carl to me. It was because of him that I was able to start the Old Shop Shops in 1926.
Carl Davis was a versatile yachtsman. His first love was sail, and racing was a passion.
The first boat he had was a sloop named Hun I. She was a bastard catboat, her mast stepped well aft of the stem so she could almost have been rigged as a sloop. In the late 90's he organized The Bass River Yacht Club. It was a club in name only. The headquarters were an old boat house on the shore which with pier and floats served as the Davis marine facility.
The bungelow was changed over from a studio into living quarters for the crews. The crews worked and helped operate a fleet which grew with a new craft appearing almost every year.
The senior member of the waterfront and aboard the vessels was Captain Leonidas E. Taylor. He had come up from able seaman aboard squareriggers that sailed to all parts of the world. Before he retired to become Carl's boatman, he had advanced to mate aboard ship. This is one of the toughest assignments on a sailing ship, The mate is the gang boss operating under the orders of the captain. History records "Bucco Mates" who even shot the crewmen off the yardarms if they didn't produce to the satisfaction of the officer in charge. "Lost at sea off Cape Horn" was an easy entry to put in the ship's log Sailors were a cheap commodity at the turn of the century. The life was unbelieveably rugged. This was Leo's background. He was a hard taskmaster.
Following Hun I came Hun II and then Attila. These latter boats were sloop rigged and there was keen racing competition with the fleet over at Wianno, some 12 miles to the westward. Carl and his crew used to sail back and forth to the races to get in more practice time.
In order to get into Bass River after dark he rigged and maintained a series of green and red lighted poles with old fashioned ship lanterns hanging from them that would last for a week on one charge of kerosene. Their special little round wicks cut down consumption. No problem to work in over Bass River bar with these privately maintained buoys that were on location every summer as long as boating continued.
The last of the fleet of sail was Kentenia that carried a spinnaker along with her sloop rig. She was a consistant winner much to the irritation of the Wianno skippers. Two little lapstrake launches were part of the early fleet, with the amusing names of Gotoit and Comefromit.
In early 1900 Mr. Davis' interest shifted from sail to power. The boats were all called Ildico. Each one larger than the last from number I to IV. Morgan Barney of Greenwich, Conn. was the designer of many of them. The last Ildico IV was a monster with luxurious appointments.
There were frequent summer cruises and Carl was always generous taking out his friends and neighbors. The larger boats were often left off shore in the sound in fair weather on huge granite moorings. This solved the problem of getting in and out of the river over the ever present sandbars. The two jetties built by the state did little more than compound the problems and extend the shoals further off the river entrance.
At a very early age I remember a storm blowing Ildico II ashore and landing her high and dry tightly captured by the sand at the top of the tide. The situation looked grim to say the least, but Carl Davis was equal to the challenge of rescuing his favorite yacht.
An army of local Cape Codders and summer folk were recruited to be ferried over to the Eastern Beach. With shovels, tackles, and various hauling gear they set about to dig a channel in from the sound to the stranded craft, deep enough so that when high tide came along she was able to float out into Nantucket Sound. It was a gigantic effort, and a complete success.
I was about five years old at that time and can just remember the event. Many summer folk came out with picnics to watch the canal being dug. It was a social event.
The huge granite moorings lay around Windmill Beach for years and finally were taken away in large trucks. For many years a pile of 60 ft. 12x12 yellow pine timbers were out in the elements at the same location, the forerunner of a proposed marine railway that never was completed. In the early days of Ships Shops Inc. Uncle Carl gave these timbers to me and we sawed them up to make the first pier at its present location, about a half mile up river from Uncle Carl's boat house. The pier went out in the hurricane, but chunks of original Georgia yellow pine are still being used to block up boats for storage. Over the years they have been dubbed "Sugar Lumps" and even these small pieces are backbreakers to lift off the ground. One thing was certain. If Charles Henry Davis ever did anything, he did it in grand style, with no thought to labor or expense.
One of the outstanding accomplishments of Carl Davis was the rescue of the schooner Charlotte T. Sibley with his crew and the yacht Ildico in October of 1907. The vessel was driven ashore off Bass River on the bars by one of the worst storms that has ever hit the coast. Old timers said there had not been such a gale since the year 1879. Winds were clocked at 70 miles an hour. The 40-ft. power boat's captain and crew were to face hardships and demands on seamanship that are incomprehensible to the normal landsman, and even most boating people.
The captain of the Sibley had anchored off Bass River half way between the jetty and the old stone breakwater off the Lighthouse Inn. He was a bit offshore in good holding ground with both anchors set. In those days there were none of the weather reports or radio advice that we enjoy today. Captain Hatch had to rely on his knowledge of the sea and the weather it could produce. The howling southeaster sweeping up the coast caught him in the worst of conditions. He was anchored off a lee shore with no chance to claw his way off, or to slip his anchor cables and escape.
The bars off Bass River look peaceful and mild on a summer day when one can even anchor and go for a swim on them, but given hurricane wind forces they are converted into fiendish monsters. This is what the captain had to cope with, and his vessel and gear were no match for the encounter. He very shortly dragged out of control right up onto the worst of them. The present short end of a breakwater that we know today was an early attempt of the federal government to create a harbor of refuge for just such ships as the Sibley. The plan was for a port such as now exists at Point Judith in Rhode Island, but it never got beyond the first step because sail was being superseded by steam and the crying need for it to protect vessels waiting to make the passage around Cape Cod no longer existed.
Meanwhile as the storm increased in intensity Carl Davis was ashore working in his office. His head skipper, Leonidas E. Taylor was on the shore watching the Sibley and knowing full well her hopeless leeward position if the storm heightened and she began to drag backwards onto the bars a half mile astern. He advised Carl there was every likelihood of a serious wreck taking place with the possible complete loss of the schooner and her captain and crew.
Prompt action was absolutely imperative before the ship was annihilated and pounded to bits. To go offshore in such a gale in the Ildico was a very risky proposition to put it very mildly, and it was increasingly evident as the schooner began to actually back down on the bars that something must be done. Should Davis take the chance to lose his boat and more important possibly his men. Good seamen they all were but the odds were fantastically against them. Carl consulted with them and they decided to attempt the rescue. The Coast Guard was miles away and unavailable. They set about to make preparations.
Prudent men that they were, they knew they must be equipped with the best gear they could get together. Luckily Davis had a wonderfully well equipped boathouse. Captain Taylor has it in perfect order so that he knew where everything was at a moment's notice. Foul weather gear for all was essential, and extra anchors and lines, plus tools to cut away broken rigging at the scene of the wreck. The Ildico was, as always, ready to put to sea. Full tanks of gasoline, oil at proper level, and all the usual boat equipment shipshape. There must be blankets to wrap the crew and life preservers, a thousand details to be considered and looked out for. It was because Carl Davis was the man he was, always prepared and with the best of crews that the rescue was even possible to set out on.
Beside all this courage and self confidence were essential. Carl had them in ample supply as did those who would be going with him. At the helm was Captain Davis, at the engine Otto Stieffel. Mate was Leonidas E. Taylor, anti as crew Eben Chase and "Butty" Pierce.
The craft cast off and slid easily down the lower reaches of Bass River in the protection of the jetties. Outside was a seething cauldron. The waves came in rapid succession, buffeted the small craft which was lost from sight to those ashore, most of the time as she dived into the deep valleys of the waves heightened by their passage over the bar.
The Sibley struck stern to but at an angle. Luckily the sand eased the blow and her masts stood, though must of the rigging parted. The keel was torn from the ribs and the decks smother of breaking surf and scudd. It was every man for himself. The situation was impossible. Everyone wondered who would be the first victim.
Then to their amazement they sighted a small white craft with five figures in it clawing its way off shore from the river entrance. At times she almost appeared to be going backward with only a 25 horse power engine to fight the elements.
The crew of the Sibley huddled in the rigging gave a faint cheer that was lost in the elements. The Ildico came as close as possible to the wreck and anchored just to leeward. Plunging into the seas the little vessel held her own. Her anchor held fast. Then by great fortune the wind veered to the south, and the intensity of the seas diminished.
The captain and crew were able for the first time to come out of the rigging and down on deck. One remaining lifeboat was lashed to the mainmast. With Herculean strength the crew was able to launch her overside and get aboard so they could drift down on Ildico. They were off to one side and Mate Taylor threw a heaving line which went true, but was lost by the boat. Twice more lines were thrown and lost. Then when all hope of rescue seemed gone one of the men got the last line with the blade of an oar and the rescue was made.
The trip back to the river with the overloaded craft was a nightmare. Carl Davis with infinite skill overcame all obstacles and brought Ildico safely into the river entrance. At the dock willing hands took over to help the exhausted skipper and crew, and aided Davis in his landing and tieup. Soon the men were in the warmth of the boathouse with its roaring fire. Dry clothes and a stiff drink did much to revive spirits and strength.
The Sibley was beyond salvage, but much of her gear came ashore. The impossible had been accomplished, the captain and crew were saved.
One of Carl Davis' most prized treasures in the sounding lead of the schooner which was given to him by Captain Hatch, and also the ships bell which all his life held a place of honor on the mantle piece in the studio living room in the House of the Seven Chimneys.
Last week we talked about Carl Davis as a yachtsman, captain and seaman. Back of this were years of hard work creating the business acumen that made him millions of dollars.
He was educated a civil engineer, and brought up by a strict Quaker family in Philadelphia. His sister Lucy Davis, a maiden lady all her life, was affectionately known by everyone as Aunt Lucy. She had a keen mind and for many years was a dean at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She influenced his life.
Carl's accomplishments in engineering were spectacular. As Charles Henry Davis & Associates of New York, Philadelphia, and Bass River, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, as he liked to entitle himself, he built the first high speed street railway from Washington, D.C. to Mt. Vernon, Va. There were many problems involved in franchises and bridging marshy areas, but he was up to any feat and enjoyed the challenge of those who said it was impossible. The completed electric line was a marvel in its day, used by visitors from all over the world who wanted to visit George Washington's home.
He accomplished a variety of firsts in electrical engineering, but his greatest successes were in mining and lumbering.
The Davis family and their relations owned considerable holdings in the coal field area of Harlan County in Kentucky. Separately these lands were of little value, and were being robbed by local strip miners. Carl saw an opportunity. Over a period of years he bought out the plots until he had a large mass of mostly non-contiguous lands all through the county. Then by using local residents and lawyers he proceeded to purchase the intervening areas, to finally arrive at a point where he owned and fully controlled almost all of Harlan County and its mining and lumbering rights.
This accomplishment took years of planning and the ability to operate behind the scenes. With this now valuable property he formed Kentenia Mining Company, which later became Kentenia Co. Inc. He sold stock to set up mine shafts and large scale mining operations all over the county. These were connected by roads and railways which joined them to the outside world. A coal mining kingdom under single control.
Besides this there were vast lumbering operations. The mountainous region of Harlan County yielded timber which could be processed and shipped out by the same transportation that handled the coal.
At this point Carl Davis's foresightedness paid off. It was the early 1900's and the American public was looking to the newly developed automobile for transportation. The business was in its infancy, and most makes of cars were too high priced for the general public. Carl was convinced a reasonably priced car that could be bought by everyone was about to appear on the market. Just who was to bring it out was a mystery.
A young man named Henry Ford had ideas about such a car. He was, like Carl Davis, a man before his time; a visionary.
Carl Davis met Henry Ford and became interested in his efforts to become established. One of Ford's greatest needs was a sure supply of coal so that his business would not be strangled by price wars and strikes. Davis bet on Ford to be a winner in his field.
Carl approached Henry with the proposition that he lease his whole Kentenia area to him on a basis that Ford do all the mining himself and pay Davis an agreed price per car load of coal at the minehead plus a royalty on each Ford car that was produced: The contract was for something like a ten year period with rights or renewal for another period at the expiration of the first contract.
After lengthy negotiations this contract was achieved. As the years passed, this became the main source of Charles Henry Davis's wealth.
As his wealth grew he was able to construct "The House of the Seven Chimneys" at National Highways Circle in Bass River. His interest in good roads led to efforts to establish national highways and connecting roads throughout the states.
He led efforts to improve the conditions of people in general. This included concern over prisons and prison reform. The succeeding chapters will tell of these activities and his later interest in psychology and psychiatry. This was to lead to sponsorship of Dr. Alfred Adler, the world famous Austrian psychologist, in trips to the United States to establish clinics.
His favorite poem was the one called "A House by the Side of the Road" which concludes, "I want to live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man."
"The House of the Seven Chimneys" was Charles Henry Davis' amazing home on the shore of Bass River. It was located on the first traffic circle in the United States, National Highways Circle, one of Carl Davis' inventions to handle traffic. Today we have them everywhere, and they have developed into the clover leaf road exchanges, and even more complicated roadway patterns. However, the bronze lights topping the old brick watering trough which stands today in Bass River is the forerunner. It's worth seeing, even though vandals have robbed the three ship lanterns that originally hung from the edifice. Now there is a repulsive green neon light.
The home itself was at one time a single unit made up of three old Cape houses and a barn that were artistically connected together to form the whole. Later, when the six daughters were born, a sleeping porch and runway were added to make the house complete a square with a courtyard in the center. The huge barn doors gave onto this square which was at once a garden and a courtyard.
The children who lived in the house (called the Farm House) were able to gain access to the barn living room and the Old House and Aunt Maria's without going through the kitchen and back hallways. Between the runway and the Old House was a connecting area used as a school room. A cellar that went under the whole set of buildings was known as the "Bass River Subway." In this were four hot air furnaces, several hot water heaters and a main heater adjacent to huge coal storage areas that extended underground in front of the main entrance and under the turning circle.
Many a game of hide-and-go-seek was played in "The Subway" with Captain Leonidas E. Taylor sometimes being lured into the sport. We used to tease him by the hour to join us. Finally he would break down with "Just you kids try to find any spot in this cellar that Old Leo doesn't know about. I've stoked all these furnaces for years before you were born." Then the hunt was on and he was quick to round us all up.
C. H. Claudy wrote extensively of this unique home for House and Gardens magazine in May, June and July of 1908 with reprint of his work in the "Bulletin of Photography" in March 1909. This work was later put into booklet form for Carl Davis and rare copies, I believe, are in our local library.
Who could conceive of a home that had 217 windows and could be entered by any one of 17 front doors? These windows were always kept sparkling clear. The views took in Bass River and the marshes and the old grist mill owned by Aunt Alice Stone.
There was no electricity in the whole establishment. Lighting was by hundreds of oil lamps and as many candle lanterns. There was a kerosene room made of blue slate in which to work on this lighting equipment. Carl Davis had many walls filled solid with cement to make firewalls, and exterior walls were packed with dried beach seaweed, forerunner of today's insulation. There was one telephone, Hyannis 49, a crank affair that was in Aunt Maria's library. A hard crank of the magneto brought the operator in Hyannis to the alert by dropping a brass latch on the switchboard before her. Carl was a top customer and got the best service.
Seven Chimneys had at least twice that number of open fire places, each one unique in its mantel, hearth, and surrounding architecture. These fireplaces were used. The huge woodway, as it was called, held cords of dry oak and pine. There was always an abundance of kindling and yellowed copies of the New York Times.
The fireplace we loved best was in the studio, which was the old barn. It was snuggled into a corner of the room with sofas and chairs around, and a hearth one could sit on extending out from one side. The pink bricks rose above the slate mantel to vanish in the barn ceiling. A quarter loft extended over part of the room. Carl Davis used to sit before this fireplace with the doors open into the courtyard. The red and white hollyhocks stood along the wall of the breezeway, and the pink light of the setting sun mixed with the blue of the river. Here many of his wonderful projects were born. The children had gone to bed, and his wife, Grace Bigelow Davis, was asleep upstairs in Aunt Maria's. Carl Davis was a visionary years ahead of his time with a heart big with the concerns of others. Because of his generosity I was able to start Ship Shops, which originated in his boat house below the House of the Seven Chimneys.
His office building and its ramifications will be the subject of another chapter. These buildings had even greater fireplaces. I can remember a trip to the Cape with Uncle Carl in 1920. We arrived at the office chilled from the long automobile drive. All three fireplaces were roaring. Old Captain Taylor was tending them, and he never spared wood when it came to making a blaze.
Out of his car and in the office Uncle Carl was another man than the chatty companion of the past three hours. He was all business. All his papers were laid out on huge drawing board tables so he could pick up anything at a glance without stopping to thumb through. Miss Smith and Freeman Bartlett reported on the latest mail and took a host of orders to be executed after his departure. He had his fingers in a hundred pies all at the same time, and worked with an intensity beyond conception.
Suddenly it was dinner time, and he changed to the devoted father that he was to all his family. He strode across the street through snow to the House of the Seven Chimneys to have dinner before another open fire in the dining room.
Today the House of the Seven Chimneys has been split up into separate units. The most lovely part, Aunt Maria's, was moved to the river's edge. Its original splendor has been maintained. Now it is the home of the Wood family, and Franklin and his late wife Barbara Cowee Wood, have done honor to Charles Henry Davis by maintaining his favorite house in mint condition.
The office building across the street from "The House of the Seven Chimneys" was the home of The National Highways Association which Charles Henry Davis was president. From modest beginnings this office expanded and grew to be another complex of houses, and a huge extension twice the size of the original structure.
In an age when electricity was almost unknown on Cape Cod, except as it was generated by private owners with Delco systems driven by gasoline engines, Davis' headquarters was a marvel with its own concrete generating building that supplied all the power for a complex electrical system.
The National Highways Association was a very natural outgrowth of Carl Davis' interest in automobiles, and the burgeoning Ford Motor Company. As early as the 16th of July in 1806 the President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, proclaimed an act of Congress of the proceeding March creating the first National Road. It was to run from Cumberland in the state of Maryland to Ohio.
Early roads were more trails than highways. They wound through the woods seeking out the easiest routes between two towns with little regard for conservation of distance. At best they were quite dangerous in many sections because of attack by Indians, and later highway robbers. The perils of the sea were preferred by most travelers, and freight was far easier transported by water.
The Old National Road was the first link in what was to become an ocean to ocean national highway. Its first portion was often referred to as the Cumberland road, or the National Pike. It ranked with other roads out west, such as the Santa Fe and Oregon trails, and finally was extended as far west as St. Louis.
With the rapid growth of the United States, with people coming from all sections of the world to seek their fortunes in the new land, communication had to grow. Money for road building often came from a system of tolls, and little thought was given to roads on a national scale. The individual states laid out their own highways with no regard for their adjoining neighbors. What was destined to become a major highway in one state might connect with a rutted muddy road in the next. Coordination was essential, yet it was non-existent.
The National Highways Associations function was to point up the growing need of good roads to open up the country, and to proclaim the great importance of cooperation between states. Good roads everywhere would relieve poverty and bring in their wake prosperity and industry. Living conditions and schooling were bound to go hand in hand toward improved society.
The association went further, seeking later to repeal ridiculously low speed limits, work for adoption of rules of the road, not unlike those at use at sea. Roads were to be banked, curves eliminated, and grades eased. Grade crossings were improved and scenic highways worked out. Better materials for road building were used.
To facilitate this the Association published maps of all the states with suggested coordinated highways, and printed an unbelievable amount of literature. The office on National Highways Circle in Bass River was the center of all this activity, and Carl Davis was the leading light. He lectured, and gave talks all over the country. One incident I remember with interest and amusement was a talk he gave in Milton, Mass. in the early days of the association. It was well attended and one of those present was the then Chief of Police of Milton. Following the talk he branded Carl Davis as a very dangerous person because he sought to increase speed on the highways by such an outrageous thing as recommending that roads be banked on curves. The conservative areas were not ready for Davis' ideas for the future.
To get around the country on his speaking tours Carl Davis had two entirely unique automobiles. To publicize National Highways and Good Road everywhere he got all the states in the union to issue him license plate number 25. His ancient Hudson bore all these license tags. The other car, that always went along in case of a breakdown so Carl could be sure to be on time for his scheduled meetings, was plastered with the insignia of all the automobile societies in the country. Taken together these vehicles were an imposing sight and certainly got the general public to come to the alert and question just what this all stood for.
I can remember many trips that I took with Uncle Carl and his wife and sister and two chauffeurs throughout the. country. Often in cities, if we stopped for one reason or another, we were apt to creat a mob scene. Carl was always eager to make a speech and spread the word, and distribute literature to the assembled crowds.
He kept a very strict schedule on these safaris. We left on the dot from whatever hotel we had put up at for the night and if anyone was late it was just too bad. Except for his wife and sister, he would drive off and leave the tardy one to fend for himself and catch up with the caravan by train or bus. I remember at the outset of one trip he gave me $100 and told me I might need it if I missed the ship, so to speak. I don't remember that I ever did; it was such fun to be a part of the moving act.
Once in New York he was planning to leave from his residence on 32nd street and old Captain Leonidas E.Taylor was invited to go along with us. He made it on time, but only just, and he was questioned by Charles Henry as to why he had been so close to the line. His reply was classic.
"Well, you see, I was down at the Battery looking over the ships along South Street, and I allowed an hour to get up town, but the traffic held me up."
This didn't satisfy Carl at all.
"What traffic could you possibly have coming up in the subway on a 20 minute run?"
Leo was quick with his reply.
"Now, Mr. Davis, you don't suppose a seagoing man like myself would ever use the subway. I came up in the street cars where I could keep my bearings. Who wants to go helling around underground where you can't see a thing, and don't know whether you are headed north, south, east or west?"
Leo came in for some substantial kidding on this remark, which lived with him all his life.
Once underway on a trip there were no unscheduled stops. The ladies often wanted to tarry to do some shopping or to look in an antique shop, but this was completely out. Even stopping to buy a couple of apples was once ruled on in the negative. Carl always drove the lead car, followed by his two chauffers in the rear one. I could ride in either, but it was always more fun to be in the front seat and listen to Uncle Carl's endless stories of life, and his theories of politics, and the general state of the world, and people in general. His ideas were mostly very sound, but way out for a man in those days.
Although the trips started early, like seven in the morning, we ended up the day often by three or four in the afternoon at the appointed hotel. Carl had all arrangements made well in advance and he and Cousin Alice Bancroft, who was his secretary, and later his third wife, opened up a temporary office and did all the day's work. Mail was not as uncertain as it is today so his papers were always awaiting him at the head desk in the lobby on his arrival.
Dinner was usually about seven and afterwards if there were any good shows in town we always attended in the very best seats money could buy.
The days were long and strenuous and I often wondered how Carl Davis ever lived through them.
If I questioned him he would shrug off the interrogation with, "Hard work never killed anyone."
He lived a long and super-active life to well prove this truth.
Last week I spoke of trips with Uncle Carl and his entourage in the two official cars of The National Highways Association. Number 25 was always in the lead followed by the second car covered with automobile club insignias. These two vehicles did much to spread the word about the importance of nationalization of roads.
Recently corning home from Maine on Route U.S. 95, I thought how happy Charles Henry Davis would be to know how his ideas, for which he fought so hard, were today a reality. Old Route 1 has given way, in great part, to U. S. 95. It is worth while to go out of one's way to get onto these pikes. The dangers are minimized, even though cars travel at high speeds. Wear and tear on drivers is cut. No pedestrians walking the routes, ample rest areas, and efficient highway patrols to help out in the event of car failure or accidents.
My old V.W. decided to die on U. S. Route 95 about 40 miles west of Bangor. In five minutes the Maine State Police had come to my rescue, and they stuck with me for three hours until all need of help had vanished. I'm sure Carl Davis would have loved to witness this incident.
Driving with Uncle Carl I frequently rode in the front seat. He was a fantastic driver. Very fast, but equally careful and safe. At one time he held the record of having the fastest time of any single man driving from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
He was not free of accidents or car failures. Nobody traveling all those thousands of miles ever could be. We talked of this and he said:
"You know one day I'll have a serious crackup. It will be caused by my traveling a fast pike at night. I will come over a hill and be blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car, and ahead of me will be a vehicle with no working tail lights, and we will crash."
This did happen. It was years later on the Princeton Turnpike in New Jersey. Just these circumstances occurred. Carl swerved hard to his right to avoid the oncoming car with the blaring headlights, and tore up an embankment. This quick action saved a fatal crash, but he and the chauffeur riding with him were badly injured. It was months before he was able to drive again, but he recovered only because of his indomitable will and his unbelievable courage.
One story of his driving stands out very clearly in my memory, and he enjoyed retelling it with all its implications and drama. Traveling to New York with his chauffer in the middle of the night on the Boston Post Road, which in those days was THE Road" between the two cities, he was in the area of Darien, Conn. As he came around a curve he has confronted by two armed and masked highway men flourishing their guns. He came to a halt. The men approached the car, threatened death if anyone moved. Carl Davis very cooly opened the door, stepped out to confront the brigands. One must remember that he was a Quaker born and bred. Quakers do not believe in fighting or physical violence. They do, however, believe in courage and standing up strongly for the right as they see it.
The chauffeurs were horrified by their employer's brash act and implored him to put up his hands and surrender before everyone was shot. Not Carl Davis; very simply, through the shouted oaths and implications which were being hurled at him, threatening instant death, he addressed his assailants.
"How is it possible that in this year and age you two boys can think to hold up a citizen of the United States on one of the principal highways of our country? You must both be in terrible trouble of one sort or another to be willing to commit such a desperate act. If you shoot and kill me or my men you will hang for it, with absolute certainty. Any moment another car may come along and discover you. Why are you acting as you are? I want only to help you. I give you my word of this. If you will allow me to do so I'll press no charges against you, but will get you honest employment, so that you can live happily and without the horror of having to try such acts as you seek to accomplish at this moment."
The robbers were completely nonplussed. Before Carl Davis had finished he had obtained their names and addresses, and exchanged his with them. He went on his way quite unharmed, and, true to his word, he later went into the problems of their lives with them, and succeeded in getting them both employed.
This may seem like an impossible story, but it is quite true. Davis had an abiding interest in people less fortunate than himself, and a great desire to take some real action to help. He was, all his life, deeply concerned with penology and its manifest problems. He was a close personal friend of Warden Osborn of Sing Sing Prison. He felt Osborn's forward-looking ideas concerning crime, its prevention and cure, were outstanding, and he sought to work with him to advance these precepts. He wrote quite a bit about this subject and spent much time visiting various institutions and reform schools throughout the country. His activity brought him national reputation in the field.
At one time the governor of New York State talked with Carl Davis about the possibility of his being appointed head of the Department of Prisons and Correction in the state. He was sounding Carl out on his ideas and theories, probably more to illustrate his open mindedness on the subject, than with any real intent to institute any of the advanced ideas, which were then being put forth.
Carl Davis said "Your Honor. I hardly think you would want to consider me for the office we are talking over." The governor is alleged to have replied that this was not so, that Carl was a student of the subject, and well versed in its multiplicity of problems.
"Well," said Carl, "If I were appointed Commissioner I would first of all open all the prison doors and say 'Boys come out, go back home, and start to live useful and honest lives. But for good fortune and being born to a fine heritage I might be right in there with all of you. Prisons will not solve your problems as they exist today.'"
The Governor was completely set back on his heels and had to admit that Carl Davis was not exactly the man he was looking for to fill the position of Commissioner of Crime Prevention.
Davis all his life was concerned with problems of others. This may well have been a basis for the greatness of his living. He was definitely egocentric, but more definitely he was a lover of all mankind. As he encountered them in his daily walk of life he sought to help them, whether it be Charlie Brown, who was handling the mail and express out of the Bass River Railroad Station or a highway robber on the Boston Post Road.
With Charlie, who was hard pressed financially with a meager living, and a long hard winter with sickness behind him, Carl neatly folded a hundred dollar bill so it could not be detected and pressed it into Charlie's hand when all the trunks and dunage of the Davis family were delivered at The House of the Seven Chimneys for the summer season to be spent on Cape Cod.
One of Charles Henry Davis' greatest hopes was to secure world peace and world friendship through cooperation and general understanding of all peoples on our globe.
When the United Nations was first proposed, he campaigned vigorously to have it on Cape Cod. He was unsuccessful, but this in no way lessened his ardor.
As Honorary President for Life of World Festivals for Friendship, Inc. which was affiliated with World Educational Service Council, Inc., both with headquarters in New York City, he promoted the idea of a cornerstone for the U.N. which would be a boulder from Cape Cod. This was to be paid for by the school children of the City of New York, who would each contribute five cents, and by gifts from a variety of wealthy people. The actual stone was to be given by John G. Sears, Jr. as his contribution to the project. The Gault Transporation Co. of Wareham, Mass. was to be paid for its share of the work, getting the rock over the road from South Yarmouth to the U.N. site at the corner of 42nd Street and East River Drive in New York City.
On February 4th, 1947, John G. Sears, Jr. got a letter requesting that he take care of the Cape Cod end of the project. This included locating a suitable boulder, getting it unearthed and loaded on a trailer truck. The routing of the trip to New York had its complications. The States of Rhode Island and Connecticut were concerned what roads were to be used for a 25 to 30 ton rock carried on a trailer with 16 tires in the rear section alone.
The first rock selected was located on Debbs Hill, just west of Station Ave. not far from Mid-Cape Exit 8 at Union Street. It was a beautiful granite boulder, part of the terminal moraine which formed Cape Cod. Unearthing it was a major project, as it had a huge underground section. When it was out in the open, it was estimated that it might weigh as much as 60 tons, figuring granite weighs between 160 and 165 pounds to the cubic foot.
This was far too heavy, so an attempt was made to split it with pneumatic drills and iron wedges. It became apparent this would be too costly and it would be better to locate a smaller rock. The original rock was abandoned on Debbs Hill. Charles Henry Davis came down from New York to inspect the new rock, which was on Stoney Hill on the property of Fannie A. Hollway on Great Western Rd. The clearing can still be seen today even though it is somewhat overgrown.
By the time the new rock had been loaded on Gault's trailer it was late April of 1947. There seemed to be some major problems developing about acceptance of the rock, plus objections to its use, and even more problems about transportation.
Carl Davis had a plan all worked out. Various dignitaries, such as Mayor William O'Dwyer of New York and John D.Rockefeller, Jr., the donor of the U.N. site in New York, were to be on hand for its delivery. Apparently O'Dwyer took a dim view of the project, and was reported to have said that he saw no virtue in a Cape Cod boulder being used as a cornerstone for the U.N. He went even further, apparently, and announced that if the rock ever appeared in his city, he would have it dumped in the East River, if he could find a hole deep enough to put it into. This was reported in an article in the May 12th issue of Time in 1947.
Davis and Sears were in constant communication with Reinhold Schairer, the New York director of World Festivals for Friendship, Inc., who were spearheading the project. Final Word from him was to determine the future of the boulder, now loaded on the trailer, and on exhibit in front of John G. Sears, Jr.'s nursery on Old Main St. in South Yarmouth.
The boulder never went to New York. The pressures were too great and Carl Davis had no desire to force the issue. This was to be a generous gift, given by hosts of people, both young and old. If it were not wholeheartedly wanted, that was the end of the project. It must have been a bitter blow to accept defeat of an idea so nobly undertaken.
There was an offer from Atlantic City that the rock be brought there to the Steel Pier to be used as a monument to honor New England. The resort city, was celebrating its golden anniversary. This offer was not accepted.
The rock was returned to the estate of Fannie Holway. Later it was taken to the development at Popponesset Beach, and it can be seen today near the entrance to New Seabury on the left of the way into a subdivision. It bears a bronze plaque designating the area.
Carl Davis' enthusiasm for world peace lives on today in the devotion of his second daughter, Patty Mott, now Mrs. Viggo Brandt-Erichsen of Solvang, California, to the World Federalists. She is active in this organization carrying forward some of the ideas that came from her father, Charles Henry Davis.
In 1922 Charles Henry Davis became enamored of Fred Stone and his family who were opening a musical comedy entitled TIP TOP at the Colonial Theater on Tremont St. in Boston.
Fred Stone typified the qualities in a man Uncle Carl greatly admired. He came from obscure background. By sheer hard work and personal magnitude, coupled with acting and clowning ability, he made himself tops in musical comedy field.
Born in a little town in Colorado, Stone went with his family in a prairie schooner to the wilderness town of Garden City, Kansas. The name is of significance because there probably wasn't a garden within a thousand miles. The Stone family moved about every two years so that before he arrived at Kansas City he had lived in Emporia, Wellington, Topeka, and Atchison. It was in Kansas City that he ran away from home to join the circus. He drifted about the country for a number of years before he became involved in vaudeville. All this time he had been developing athletic skills and daring, which did much to endear him to Carl Davis.
He came to prominence as a partner in the famous musical comedy team of Montgomery and Stone, and finally landed on Broadway in a play called "The Girl from Up There" which was produced at the old Herald Square Theater. The team went to London where they did brilliant work. Then there were plays and comedies that included The Wizard of Oz, The Red Mill and finally Chin Chin. St this time Montgomery died and Stone continued alone. His association with Montgomery had been too close to ever consider another partner.
Carl Davis' friendship for Stone and his company became an obsession. He attended TIP TOP every night and became a friend of all the people involved in the show at the Colonial Theater.
He decided that he would invite the employees of the Boston Athletic Association over a period of two nights, February 27th and 28th, of 1922 to the show as his guests. In connection with this he produced a Souvenir Program, which was infinitely elaborate and sought to honor Stone and his family, as well as all the people connected with the musical comedy down to the property man, the assistant carpenter and the mechanic. He didn't leave out any of the staff of the Colonial Theater, and his guests were all listed with their occupation.
The program went further to depict, in cartoon fashion, all the scenes and acts of the comedy. It was a lavish production with full page pictures of all the leading stars and groups of singers.
The cover of the brochure was given over to advertising Carl Davis' beloved National Highways and Good Roads Everywhere. The seal of the association was done in color and the whole booklet was bound with red, white and blue ribbon.
On the back was a picture of the House of the Seven Chimneys and the poem by Sam Walter Foss entitled "The House by the Side of the Road". This, as we have earlier stated, was Charles Henry's favorite bit of literature. I'm sure the lines at the end of each verse were what attracted him most. They were always the same: 'And be a friend of man." This was his greatest aspiration.
In the back of the program were four or five pages devoted to the National Highways. They described the future aims of the association.
At that time the big pitch was to get the government to enact legislation that would create 150,000 miles of National Roads. These were to be coordinated in a fourfold system with state highways, county roads and township roads.
Carl Davis pointed out that we had recently acquired the Panama Canal at a collosal figure, and that it served a relatively few people. What he advocated would serve 94 percent of the population of the United States, which then stood at 91,972,266. Of this 90 percent would be rural people.
Associating himself with a popular figure of the day such as Fred Stone, Carl Davis felt, would further his aims. He was himself a showman and knew how to catch the attention of the general public.
National Highways Hall in Bass River was the working headquarters of the National Highways Association. Its long halls contained hundreds of maps and brochures concerning proposed highway systems. They were piled on lines of tables and one could wander through and help oneself. The office was open every day.
It is of significance that many of these proposed road systems, gotten out in sheets for each state, are very similar to the road maps of today.
I remember that he early proposed a Mid-Cape Highway to be located on the crest of the peninsula. It was not unlike our road of today. He also talked of taking over the railroad roadbed when that form of transportation was given up. He even, in those days, saw into the future with the end of passenger rail service for Cape Cod. This was at a time when it was at its zenith, arid such an idea was quite unthinkable.
Charles Henry Davis' association with Fred Stone and his use of this medium to further his aims was characteristic of many equally energetic and fantastic promotions. It was undertaken with the same tireless drive that he showed through all his life. He was a man of tremendous fads, but each one he used to help something he was promoting at that particular time.
In the ensuing chapters I will show the massive influence that Dr. Alfred Adler, the famous Austrian psychiatrist with his Individual Psychology, had on the life of Charles Henry Davis. How he changed his thinking and his very personality. Davis sought to spread this cult or belief for the benefit of his fellow man.
In 1927 Carl Davis became fascinated in the amazing work of the Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler. He offered a new science of the mind which was called Individual Psychology. His beliefs clashed with Freud and Jung, who were the favorites of that day, but he certainly ranked with them. He was a diagnostician, a neurologist, a psychologist, a scientist, and an educator. He was one of the leading philosophers of his time.
Freud believed that sex was the main drive which motivated people, whereas Adler believed that the desire to be appreciated was more important. He differentiated between those who sought attention for good deeds, and those who sought notoriety by tearing down the structure of society.
Alder was visiting in the states when Carl Davis-attended some of his lectures. Davis became so impressed by his beliefs that he sponsored him at Columbia University in the New School of Social Research, and also at the Long Island College of Medicine, which was connected with the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. He also backed him in lectures that took him around the country.
There was hardly a lecture that Charles Henry Davis and his wife didn't attend. Davis was active in interesting his friends and associates in Adler's beliefs, and aided Adler in the sale of his books, of which "The Science of Living" was the first. He espoused Adler as a personal friend as well as an advisor. Adler, in turn, exerted enormous influence on Charles Henry Davis who adapted himself to the new radical advice and changed his life style. At his advanced age this was a wonderful accomplishment.
Adler spoke to him straight. When Carl asked him about himself on one occasion the doctor replied:
"Mr. Davis, you remind me of a little boy running through the streets with a bunch of tin cans tied on a string to make a noise and attract attention." This was harsh criticism, and quite to the point. Much of Uncle Carl's life had been devoted to drawing public attention to his ideas. He went to great lengths to accomplish this. The automobile with 48 license plates, all number 25, for every state in the union was but one example. Another, his letterhead which read Charles Henry Davis, NEW YORK, PHILADELPHIA and BASS RIVER, CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS.
On one occasion Carl asked Dr. Adler to give him a motto to put over his desk which would help him with his problems. After some thought he came out with the following: 'I must look for another problem so that I can, overcome it, and be proud of myself." For a number of years he kept it in plain sight to look at every day.
Instead of becoming annoyed and giving up the doctor for his harsh advice, as many a man might have done, Davis set to work to reorder his life. Within a short time he had done away with the car with the 48 license plates and settled for a simple national plate U.S. 25. He changed his complicated system of files and copies, and lengthy letters, to answering by writing comments on the original letter. I remember getting letters from him at that time that simply said "I agree", or "We must talk this over". Gone were the triplicate copies and fine stationery.
He threw out of his life much that had complicated it. His sometimes arrogant manner softened, and he became closer to all his family. He sought advice where formerly he made major decisions solely on his own judgement. His whole personality changed.
He was in close touch with Dr. Adler, and later his daughter, Allie Adler, who also came from Austria to practice in the same line as her famous father.
At the Presbyterian Medical Center in New York (the Vanderbilt Clinic) Adler did amazing work, which Carl Davis backed and promoted. Here for a time school children from the city came to be helped. They were to be sent to reform school because their behavior could not be tolerated in a regular school. Adler had success searching out the reasons these young people were uncooperative. Many were helped and returned to the city schools without ever seeing a reform school. This was in line with Uncle Carl's beliefs about criminology, which were taken up in an earlier chapter. Through Dr. Adler he was alleviating problems that had concerned him through much of his life.
I was fortunate enough to spend much of a winter with Dr. Adler, thanks to Uncle Carl. I acted as a sort of courier for him. His English was sketchy, and I was able to help him get to appointments, and to see the people he wanted to meet, without involving him in hassles that might otherwise have developed. I saw a great deal of life in a short time, and learned considerable on my own part from the great man.
One of his precepts which most impressed me was that one should not blame other people for one's problems, but rather oneself for inability to adjust to life. Like Carl Davis, I began to see myself in another light.
I can remember one of Adler's catch phrases, of which he had many, that fascinated Charles Henry. He was prone to remarking when one came at him with a weighty problem. "It is a little thing and does not matter." This could be utterly frustrating at the time, but with some consideration it had much merit. It would rank with a remark like, "It will all be the same 100 years from now." Another thing he often said was, "Are you sure you are concentrating on the useful side of life?" Certainly remarks like this gave one pause to reflect, especially if like Carl Davis one was seeking to refine one's living, and learn from the wisdom that Adler had to give to so many people.
Until the day of Charles Henry Davis' death, he was a changed and softer man, because of Dr. Alfred Adler.
In the late 1800's the land from Bass River Parkway Pier, where River Street turns away from Bass River to loin South Street, all the way to Nantucket Sound was for sale for $500. Carl Davis and his advisors decided it wasn't worth the price. The area was infested with green flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. This today is what we know as "The Point", some of the most expensive property in Yarmouth.
Charles Henry Davis was the first of the great real estate operators in Yarmouth and Dennis. In 1903 he became associated with John G. Sears, Senior, and Gilbert Studley. He envisioned a village of 2,000 acres comprising properties in both towns. He set forth to collect properties. In those days even good Cape Cod land was selling for five and ten dollars an acre, by 1944 he was paying $100 an acre for land that is now a par 3 golf course.
Prior to 1903 John G. Sears had been in partnership with his brother-in-law, William Hurst, running a grocery and general store at the foot of Willow Street in Bass River. It was known as Sears and Hurst, and was a landmark in what was then called "The Lower Village". The early summer visitors and native Cape Codders came down to lower River Street in the summer to swim at the beautiful beach where Bass River enters Nantucket Sound before the present jetties. I can remember the bath houses that lined the east side of the street from the Churchill home to Parkway Pier.
Nantucket Sound beaches stretching from Bass River to Parker's River were too far away. The beach was beautiful and completely wild with only a couple of camp-like houses along its whole stretch. Most of this shorefront property Carl Davis and his associates picked up for about $5,000. Today it is the motel "Gold Coast".
Going east from Bass River entrance all the way to Lighthouse Inn Carl Davis bought up over a mile of beach land, all the marshes back of it, and the property extending up to Fisk St. Except for The Brant Club, midway down the beach, which he was able to buy later, he owned the whole West Dennis Beach. Prior to his death he sold it to Dennis for $50,000, and in his memory it has been named Davis Beach.
Across Lighthouse Creek Merchant and Cassidy have filled the marshes and made the popular development with boat slips for all the owners. The West Dennis Yacht Club is near the head of the creek, and a fleet of 60 Beetle Cats are moored in the newly created harbor. Most of this was Carl Davis's marshes. I remember a wild marsh inhabited only by ducks, geese and blue heron.
Going out Station Ave. Carl and his associates owned a square mile of property that extended west to the Plashes. It now is partly occupied by Captain's Village and Fleetwood Park. At one time he was able to say that he could walk from the south shore of the Cape to the north and never go off property that he controlled.
The present Bass River Golf Links was something of a dairy farm in the mid 1920's. Playing golf had hazards never encountered today. There were cows roaming about the links, and all the greens were fenced around to keep these beasts off the grass. This was a privately owned club. Carl Davis bought out all the stockholders and took sole ownership, until it was purchased by Yarmouth.
Ship Shops was all Davis property. Crosby Street Extension runs right down through what used to be the baseball field that Carl let the town use for years. I can remember Ernie Baker knocking a home run by lofting a ball into the asparagus field that led down from Pleasant St. to the shore, adjacent to the boat yard. There were field sports there every year, and Frankie B. Homer used to donate a young pig, well greased, for the young bloods of the day to chase and tackle. In World War II Frank Sargent ran a victory garden there which was participated in by many neighbors.
For years Uncle Carl lent me use of the land where Ship Shops stands. Just down river Carl sold my father eight acres in 1905, and Dad bought a house that stood on Mansion St. in West Harwich and had it flaked and moved to the site by Nelson Eldredge. He sold John G. Sears, Jr. the land that is now his nursery property. This was all a sizeable holding belonging to Davis, which he had acquired through multiple purchases with his associates.
Some townspeople were critical of Carl Davis because he would purchase acres and acres of property, but almost never sold any except to very close friends and family. They felt he held back the growth of the town. He very probably did, and as we see it today it is very fortunate fur us. Now with everything wide open Yarmouth is one of the fastest growing towns in the United States. A doubtful honor.
Carl was interested in conservation. Stage Island, the marsh island, in the center of Bass River, he purchased from four owners for about $100. Acting through Peter Sykes and his wife, he made sure it would be kept in its natural condition. It now is part of Conservation Commission holdings.
The center of Carl's Cape Cod empire, of course, was The House of the Seven Chimneys. It was a show place of the Cape with its extensive lawns and neatly kept blue gravel walks. Across the street down Mill Lane he built four clay tennis courts and a precision croquet court. He was a keen tennis player himself and encouraged his neighbors to share the courts with him. To play a game of croquet you had to be what my Father would call a "Dabster", very accurate! The balls would just fit through the wickets and the mallets had a hard rubber face to make shots of great exactness. Today the courts are all gone and there is no more croquet. Instead Sunset Drive and Morning Drive crisscross the location, and the Brickett home is about in the middle of Uncle Carl's favorite court.
Carl Davis had come a long way. As a child he spent summers with his family in "The Box", a camp meeting house south of Parkway Pier. In the end he lived in the majestic House of the Seven Chimneys on National Highways Circle. All his life he wanted "To live in a house by the side of the road, and be a friend of man." This he did as few men have ever done.
The 20-ton boulder Carl Davis intended to have shipped to New York City as the cornerstone for the United Nations symbolized his intense desire for peace and world understanding. The fact that that particular project was unsuccessful in no way dampened his ardor. He liked to quote Dr. Alfred Adler's "I would agree with any movement that had as its goal the improvement of mankind even though I did not believe it wholly right."
Peace and world unity, and human understanding were watchwords in his aims throughout all life. He termed himself a "Fighting Quaker", and by that he meant that he would battle for what he believed to be right. Never with arms, but with words and deeds.
Back in 1931 he became the founder and trustee of "The World Peace Movement" and sought to erect headquarters along side of the "Peace Portal" built by Samuel Hill in 1921 in Blaine, Wash. Half of the portal stood on Canadian soil in British Columbia and the other in the state of Washington. The portal overlooked the Pacific Ocean and stood at the headwaters of the Peace River on our west coast Canadian Border.
From these beginnings he went on to found the Cooperative League of America, the Cooperators of America, and later in 1937 the One-Flag-for-Peace movement. In this latter effort he sought to unite the English speaking peoples of the whole world.
He harped back to colonial days and the fact that George Washington in 1775 had a flag that symbolized "The Grand Union" and was a combination of the British and United States flag. It was authorized by our budding Navy. It consisted of 13 stars for the original states arranged in the form of the Red Cross of Saint George and the White Cross of Saint Andrew as they then existed in the British Jack plus the red and white stripes. This flag was hoisted over the Continental Army when Washington first took command at Cambridge, Mass. on Jan. 2, 1776. It was the first flag to fly over the 13 colonies. It was not until Sept. 3, 1777 that the Stars and Stripes as we knew them were flown.
Davis felt that in the early days of the Revolutionary War the colonies sought not so much separation from Great Britain, as independence to deal with their own affairs. He believed that they really wished a relation with the mother country for almost two years, which might have blossomed into a set-up such has existed through the years between Canada and Australia and England.
Carl Davis believed that we could be once again united in a very loose relationship, but one that would stand for world peace. He designed a flag for use in the union of English speaking peoples that was not unlike the "Grand Union" flag, except that it superimposed a huge star over the Union Jack part of the flag and kept the 13 stripes of red and white. One clipping from the paper shows him standing before his flag with a man who symbolized John Bull, as he made an address at Christ Church in New York City to promote the alliance between the United States and Britain.
"Why not go back under our "Grand Union of 1776 - George Washington's flag, our first flag - and invite the British Empire to join US? ! ! ! for PEACE."
In this private movement of his Carl Davis won but little support, but out of it he himself gained an almost fanatical admiration for Sir Winston Churchill, whom he considered the outstanding ,statesman of all times. He studied his writings and political history, and went to England to meet the man on a number of occasions. In his own words he paraphrased his admiration. "Never was so much owed by so many to one man."
Carl got his son-in-law, Viggo Brandt-Erichsen, who was married to his second daughter Martha Mott Davis, to make a model of a statue of Sir Winston Churchill. The statue was to be a gift from the American people to England. Viggo, a talented sculptor, carried out Davis' ideas and produced a working model. It was done in the style of the Statue of Liberty that now stands on Bedloes Island in New York Harbor, and was a gift of the French people to the United States.
As Davis envisaged his statue it was to be of the great man, Churchill standing on the chalk cliffs of Dover in England, with a huge cigar in his uplifted hand, which in turn was to be the light to guide ships that passed this treacherous area. There were four English bulldogs lying at the base of the pedestal and there was to be a building below with bas reliefs of episodes from Churchill's years and the inscription "Never was so much owed etc." as quoted above.
Time magazine published a short article on the proposal with a picture of Viggo's model. However, the whole idea fizzled out as the British people did not want the statue. One of their serious complaints was that Churchill was still alive, and a memorial was not appropriate until after the death of the man to be honored. The model today stands in Mrs. Brandt-Erichsen's studio on Elverhoy Way in Solvang, Calif., which is her present home, just back of the mountains from Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez valley.
As stated in a former article in this series, Martha Brandt-Erichsen still keeps alive her father's beliefs in World Peace through her ardent support of The World Federalists in California.
The uniting of peoples was accomplished by National Highways which was one of the facets that motivated Charles Henry Davis so much in this his greatest work. He was Honorary Chairman of the Institutes of Transportation in Washington, D.C. for the extension and research in highways, railroads, trolleys, waterways, shipping, telegraph, telephone, wireless radio, television, airways, express, mail and parcel post etc. Any means that sought to bring people together, and advance their ability to exchange ideas, and so understand each other, and live better together was of great concern and interest to Carl Davis.
Carl Davis' oldest living daughter, Martha Mott Brandt-Erichsen of Solvang, Calif., has written me extensively about her father, and I would like to share some of her memories and some of my own.
There are three other daughters who survive him: Mrs. Priscilla Davis Matteson of Santa Barbara, Calif., Mrs. Gordon Samstag of Saint Georges, South Australia, and Miss Frances Bigelow Davis of Brookline, Mass. All the Davis girls were dear friends of my sister and myself, and many hours of our youthful years were spent together.
Mrs. Brandt-Erichsen writes of World War I when Uncle Carl was a staunch pacifist, recalling his Quaker background. The effect was devastating to Patty Mott, a well adjusted 6th grader in Cambridge, Mass. She suffered from her father's position, which was interpreted to be pro-German. She became known as "Germy German", and her closest friends didn't dare stand up for her. She withstood a barrage of name calling and snowballing for two years. With the armistice all was forgotten and she resumed her happy role.
In a happier vein she writes of Uncle Carl's extravagant theater parties. He would invite a host of his children's friends, buy the whole front row of seats. He was partial to musicals. His favorites were Fred Stone, Fred Astaire, and Clifton Webb.
On one occasion a party was arranged, but the particular performance had not been selected. They went off to see the Ziegfield Follies. At that period they were thought to be quite scandalous, and when the parents learned what their children had seen, there was a considerable furor around Cambridge.
Carl Davis' generosity was well known. He worked out a pension plan for his employees years before such ideas became commonplace.
An article was written about Charles Henry by Paul I. Murphy and Irmis Johnson entitled "Millions for Love". A series of anecdotes told how he helped young people who were in love get together and become married. In each case he helped financially, provided a job, and sometimes threw in a honeymoon at his expense as an extra present.
Ernest Marcoux worked for him as an accountant. In the early days as a struggling student he won Carl Davis's help. He estimated that over a 25 year period Davis spent $100,000 annually helping set up happy homes and finance courses in psychology to help the couples get on together.
I remember in my youth I was enamored of a young lady in New York City. I was living in Cambridge with the Davis family when Uncle Carl came to the house. He asked why I wasn't in New York with Dorothy and I told him it just wasn't possible or I would be. He handed me a $100 bill and said, "Be on your way and have a wonderful weekend. No need to be moping around in Cambridge."
During his frequent trips around the country (in his car decorated with 48 license plates number 25) he often had amazing experiences. On one occasion the car was parked on 5th Ave. in New York City, and as usual a crowd congregated. A man came up to Uncle Carl and started a conversation which greatly interested him. It ended up with him inviting the man to have lunch with him. The individual turned out to be Commander Richard Byrd.
Mrs. Brandt-Erichsen all her life was known to her father as Patty Mott. I'm sure she was one of his favorites, as she could match wits with him. One of her favorite stories was of a period during the depression when he told the family they must spend only money that was absolutely necessary. Patty Mott said it was a revelation how much they could get on without.
Uncle Carl had his usual ability of turning disaster to dramatic effect. He constantly talked to his friends about how he had to cut down on his use of soap. Finally, his imaginative friend Morgan Barney, who had designed many yachts for him, could stand it no longer and started a program of collecting soap from hotels. He dropped it in Uncle Carl's mail box at his home on 31st Street in New York. This amused Davis greatly.
Carl Davis talked with Patty Mott about the way big business cartels were influencing the management of the country and even the world. Today we know this to be true, but in the 1920's it was a prophecy. He was always ahead of his time.
There was a lot of Robin Hood in Carl Davis. He used to attempt to rob the rich to help the poor. Approached to give donations to charity, or make presents of land, he always sought to do it on a matching basis so that other people of means would equal his gifts.
Carl liked to feel he controlled situations, but I remember once he failed utterly. I was a student at Milton Academy when he invited me to drive to the Cape with him on Sunday. The school rules were strict and I had to return no later than 6:15 pm. Uncle Carl assured me we would be back well in advance of that time. However, a press of business at the Cape held him over and we were late. He assured me he would fix everything and there would be no penalty. He didn't win. I stayed at Milton Academy for four weekends in penance for my late return.
If you drive down by what remains of "The House of the Seven Chimneys" in Bass River, you will see an old sign which reads Essansea Davis on the south side of National Highways Circle. It has stood there many years to mark the entrance to Charles Henry Davis' estate. Uncle Carl put it there to honor his third wife, Alice Bancroft Davis, who lived with him until his death. He called her Susie, and the sign stands for Susie and Charlie.
The beautiful bronze light standard on the circle is still in place, but it has lost three ship lanterns which were vandalized, then replaced by a garish green neon light.
A road from Yarmouth town hall to Long Pond, and a plaque on a stone at the entrance to Davis Beach in West Dennis, bear his name.