December 16 - On the Road Again

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On December 16, 1898, Paul Laurence Dunbar was on a lengthy speaking tour that began in New York and continued into Ohio.  A newspaper article that day described Paul's reading at a mental institution in Toledo.

The Toledo Blade says:  Instead of the usual Friday evening hop at the State hospital, Dr. Tobey arranged to have a reading by Paul Dunbar, from his own stories and poems.  Perhaps no man today before the public is such an exemplification of the theory that all men are born equal, as is Paul Laurence Dunbar.  Mr. Dunbar has passed the stage where his race or early environment must be taken into consideration while putting a value on his work.  He must now be classed among the American poets, and judged accordingly.  Every selection that was read was interesting, both in itself and in its interpretation.  The audience of unfortunates listened with attention, and seemed pleased with Mr. Dunbar's efforts to please them.

"Paul L. Dunbar.  A Tribute to His Worth and to His Writings."  The Dayton Evening Herald (Dayton, Ohio).  December 15, 1898.  Page 4.

Paul was on a leave of absence from his job at the Library of Congress, where his annual salary was $720.  He believed he could earn more money by writing and reciting, and he hoped to earn $200 during this ten-day trip.  While he was traveling, Paul wrote every day to his wife Alice in Washington, D. C., telling her about his activities and his good behavior.

Toledo, O.

I am feeling first rate now but am getting homesick.  I hope to bring home $200 as a result of my ten days employment.  I have not had a tear since I've been gone and haven't even tasted liquor for nearly a week, but wait till I get home!

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Moore Dunbar, December 14, 1898.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).

Granville, Ohio

Here I am at Granville and alone in my room thinking of you.  One of the old high school boys from Dayton came in to visit me and it is now time to go to the opera house.  This strikes me as being very hardest night as it is a college town and you never know when the fellows are going to break out.  One more reading after this darling and then home and you.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Moore Dunbar, December 15, 1898.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).

On December 15, Paul recited in Granville, the home of Denison University.  Though he was favorably received in the town, he was disappointed with his earnings.

Paul Laurence Dunbar has made a host of friends in Granville, as was evidenced by the close and respectful attention which his recitations received at the Opera House last night.  He has an exceptionally pleasing manner on the platform, and his delivery is both natural and effective, which, combined with his sincerity, made the entertainment most enjoyable.  His dialect was particularly well received, bringing forth much enthusiasm.  Mr. Dunbar left this morning for Columbus, where he appears this evening.  After traveling a few more weeks, he expects to return to Washington and again resume his duties in the Library.

"Dunbar Visits Granville."  The Denisonian (Granville, Ohio).  December 16, 1898.

Columbus, Ohio

I suppose I shall be at home with you when this letter arrives and the thought makes me tremulously happy.  Of course, it is perfect nonsense for me to write to you, but it gives me so much pleasure that I have to.  Everything looks bright for the reading here.  I am quite well though not in the best possible voice.  The people seem thoroughly aroused and enthusiastic and I shall be greatly surprised if we do not have a large crowd.  I am sorry now that I did not charge them more money.  The reading last night was as all the rest have been:  a great artistic success.  Financially it was as successful as it could be in a village of 2000 people.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Moore Dunbar, December 16, 1898.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).