Dad’s Journal Notebooks Keep Sucking Me In

A Man Who Shared His Thoughts and Told People What He Thought of Them

Notebooks of my father. I have a bag of notebooks, journals by my father Nathaniel Hartshorne, that I’ve pored over and I hope to write about.

nat notebooks

This bag of notebooks, the collected journals of my father Nathaniel Hartshorne, means so much to me. Again and again, I dip into the bag and take one out and begin reading my dad’s perfect cursive handwriting. Even when he got to the bottom of the page, he never wrote in anything but perfect penmanship.

I have read all of them, more than once, and now I have begun sharing them with my dear cousin, Stephen Hartshorne.  Steve shares my love for Nat, he was always a big fan and always appreciated what I have always loved about my dad….his kindness, interest in others, and his ongoing creative process.

The notebooks alternate between chronicling his life with the family over the years, to his relationships with his many penpals, old friends that mom and dad never forgot–neighbors from Brooklyn Heights in the 1950s, people with whom my parents never lost touch with, decades on.  Dad liked to correspond with other writers, and often shared his short stories, novels and plays with a host of characters.

The other parts of the notebooks are plots, ideas for new stories, and anguish over bad receptions he got, or where to go next with stories.  As a boy growing up, it was a fact that every night after dinner, he’d retire to his study, turn on some jazz, and get to work on his fiction.  I had my homework, and for the decades of my youth, he did too.

Now I have to figure out how to best honor him, and decide what people would be the most interested in. I am thinking of trying to c0-write a book with my cousin, somehow using the journals as a guide. It would be the story of a man who shared his personal views in notebooks and was one of the world’s best letter writers.  It would be an inspiring story about a life well-lived, and about how to successfully stay married to your sweetheart for more than 64 years.

I hope that our words will do him justice and that we find an audience for it.