Topical Guide 3
Clams: Clamshell Driveways
“Everyone on No Bridge Road had a clamshell driveway . . .”
Studebakers: Babbington Studebaker
“There was no doubt about it: every car on No Bridge Road was a Studebaker. This put me into quite a tizzy, because I knew that if I included this remarkable fact without explanation the reader would regard it as gratuitously absurd. So, to make it plausible, I made Guppa a Studebaker salesman, and a very good one, . . .”
Clams: Babbington Clam, the packing plant
This drawing, from a postcard in my collection, does not depict “Guppa,” nor does it depict a clam-packing plant, but I think it gives some idea of what working in a clam-packing plant in the 1940s might have been like.
Small’s Island and Small’s Hotel
Kraft often begins public readings from the Personal History with a version of this description of what he and Peter are up to:
Imagine, please, an island—not in some pellucid subtropical sea, but in a gray bay, shallow, often cold—and on that island imagine an old hotel, Small’s Hotel, where an aging dreamer, Peter Leroy, lives with his beautiful wife, Albertine Gaudet. Albertine runs the hotel, with Peter as her assistant, but Peter spends part of every day in a room at the top of the hotel where he writes The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy, his life’s story. If you could look over his shoulder and watch him at work, you’d be likely to find that he was revising an episode from his past—amplifying it, embellishing it, or distorting it—because he finds that when he reminisces he’s more interested in the possibilities than he is in the facts—and also because memory, like an old radio receiver, picks up a lot of static.
The Topical Guide continues after Episode 4 of the Personal History.
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You’ll find an overview of the entire work in An Introduction to The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy. It’s a pdf document.