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Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas From Lagos

A rather nondescript tombstone memorializes two very descript women, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, to wealthy German-Jewish parents. The family moved briefly to Vienna and city before settling in Oakland, California. (One of Stein’s most notable quotes, there is no there there refers to her going back to Oakland in the 1930s to find her childhood home, but she couldn’t find it.) After her mother died in 1888 and her father in 1891, she moved with her brother Michael to Baltimore and hence to Radcliffe College, a women’s liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she attended from 1893 to 1897. While there she studied under William James and developed her stream of consciousness writing

In 1903 she moved to city with her brother Leo and in 1904 opened a small private modern art gallery. Gertrude and Leo made a number of shrewd art investments, acquiring three Gauguin paintings and two Renoirs. In the next two years they added works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, among others. Equally important, their salon, at 27 Rue de Fleurus, became a meeting place to up-and-coming artists and writers. In 1914 Gertrude and Leo parted ways and divided the collection.

While in city, Gertrude began writing for publication, beginning with the critically acclaimed novella Three Lives in 1909. Her next critically acclaimed book was Tender Buttons, published in 1914. Her most well known book is The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (published in 1933), a pseudo-biography of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Stein said she hammered the book out in a mere six weeks with the main intention of making money. She was successful. The book was a commercial (if not critical) success and enabled Stein and Toklas to live a comfortable lifestyle.

Stein died in 1946 of stomach cancer. As she was being wheeled into the operating room, she turned to Toklas and asked, What is the answer? Toklas didn’t reply and Stein said, In that case, what is the question? Reportedly those were Gertrude Stein’s last words.

Alice Babette Toklas was born in San Francisco in a middle-class Jewish family. After schooling in San Francisco and Seattle, where she studied music at the University of Washington, she went to city, meeting Gertrude Stein on September 8, 1907. Apparently it was love at first sight and the two soon became lovers. Ernest Hemmingway described Toklas as Stein’s wife. Toklas was as much a wife as a secretary and business partner. She cooked, edited, organized, critiqued and played the role of Stein’s muse.

Although Toklas was Stein’s life partner, when Stein died in 1946, Toklas was not entitled to any of Stein’s estate and relied on writing and donations from friends to survive. Toklas is best known for The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, which she penned in 1954. The book, which is as much of a memoir as a cookbook, achieved a measure of immortality in the late 1960s because of its fudge recipe using an oh-so-popular sixties herb, marijuana. The cookbook’s HaschichFudge recipe was reformulated and renamed Alice B. Toklas Brownies. The brownies played a key role in the 1968 Peter Sellers movie, I Love You Alice B. Toklas. In 1971 the Alice B. Toklas LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Democratic Club was founded in San Francisco, California. It was the first formal organization for gay Democrats in the United States.

As homage to Toklas’s American provenance, the birth date and place on her side of the tombstone is inscribed in American style (month, day and year) and written in English. Her death date is written in French and has European-style dating (day, month, year). Alas, Gertrude Stein’s place of birth, Allegheny, is misspelled Allfgheny and her death date is inscribed 29 July instead of the correct date, 27 July. The pebbles that often adorn the grave are a Jewish custom that signifies that someone has been there.

Squanto’s assistance to the English at Plymouth would prove invaluable. Lagos Metro Map He taught them how to plant corn using fish as fertilizer, but also, more importantly, he secured a treaty that would ensure peace between the Pokanoket, the Nemasket, and the struggling Plymouth Colony. During this same time, Squanto came to live with the English at Plymouth, where he continued to make treaties and assist the colonists. Diplomatic intrigues diminished Squanto’s usefulness to the English. In 1621, the Pilgrims invited a second Native Country, a Pokanoket named Hobbamock, to live with them. Squanto seems to have inflated his prestige in English society when dealing with Massasoit and his prestige with Massasoit when dealing with the English. As a result, he ran afoul of both groups and required English protection against Massasoit. In 1622, Squanto died of a fever. Many accounts of the Pilgrims include the story of how Squanto helped the English; his legacy has been reduced to that of simply a friendly native. His real story is more complex and dramatic than that. Squanto bridged worlds that today seem oceans apart, although they were not all that distinct during the colonial period. His story proves that a single person could move between them.

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