[Editor's Note: Literary scholarship, as most of us know, is an unpredictable, white-knuckle business, in which opportunity is everything and discoveries are where you find them. The following remarkable collection of manuscripts, here presented to the public for the first time, came to light in the most unexpected fashion, surfacing in a plain manilla folder while Coleman Hall 3605 was being cleaned out following Prof. Guernsey's retirement, in preparation for the arrival of Profs. Kuipers and Smith. Subsequent investigation revealed that the collection was a work in progress by Prof. E. Victor Bobb, who taught at Eastern from 1977-1986 and had obtained the manuscripts by diligent sleuthing through libraries and bottom drawers throughout North America. Contacted at his current home in Washington state, Bobb explained that since nearly all eminent American authors attended public school, it should be possible to obtain summer-vacation essays for all of them, and he had at one time planned an anthology of over 500 pieces. However, "Bruce didn't think too much of the idea, and after that I got to working on the Clampetts"—his monumental tome on The Beverly Hillbillies, known to many of us—"and I sort of forgot the whole thing. How IS everyone back in Charleston?"

Agora is grateful to Prof. Bobb for permission to print the anthology as it has emerged so far.—J.K.]

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Age 11


often say that there is nothing so like summer as winter. The man who is truly the spirit of his own soul would want for nothing in winter as he wants for nothing in summer, only providing that he were not cold. Give me the summer and a snowdrift, and I will give you winter. It is not for nothing that there are differences which keep things from being the same; Hodge and Parsons the dull farmers would blindly plow the sea, were it the same as their hillsides.

Crossing the schoolyard last spring I have felt the perfect exhilaration of summer vacation; glad almost to the point of fright I ran to take my summer in those months which Providence has caused to fall between May and September; months which, if we but knew it, could be ours the year round. The schoolboy is the dwarf of the baby, and the summer is the unrealized giant of February. The richness and perfection of what we are pleased to call creation has its most rich and perfect realization in the summer. Even the corpse reaches more speedily its corpse-perfection in the hot months. The man who could raise his eyes from his ledger or news-paper long enough would be amazed at the order of the oversoul's plan: watermelon occurs not in the snows of December, when its coolness were redundant, but in the heat of July when it is most welcome. Similarly, hot chocolate ripens not at the Independence Day picnic when it would be anathema, but when its swirling steam can mockingly reflect the storm swirling without the cottage. Truly will we have come into our inheritance when we ourselves can be the cottage without which the storm swirls, be it winter or summer, watermelon or hot chocolate.

In all these things, then, we can always say (provided of course that we live so that we might say these things) that I spent my summer vacation sacred in the integrity of my spontaneous impression, half expressing myself and half impressing myself and half expressing my impressions; and to the soul small enough to object to three halves, let me say that the smallest whole certainly must contain more than three halves, else all were partial. It were good for a man to be warm in the summer, for if he were not, how would he know to be cold in the winter? I heard a poet say that Bombay and the freighted riches of the orient were at naught beside a Yankee pond and a string of bluegills. Therefore is Summer, and therefore is Man.

What I Done This Summer

Sam Clemens, September 16, 1845


ou don't know about me without you have read a paper called "What I Did During Spring Vacation"; but that ain't no matter. There was things which I stretched, like about finding the buried treasure and catching the three-hundred pound catfish, but mostly it's a true paper. I never seen anybody but lied in a English paper without it was maybe Joan of Ark.

Well, you know how it is when it's a summer and you're fishing and swimming off Bush's bar and playing pirate and soldier and maybe raising a baby bird which got hove out of the nest and all of a sudden it's like you're slapped in the face and realize that vacation's almost over. That's how it was with me when me and Buck Harkness got back from the cave with his old busted straw hat on. It was July and Buck says, "Sam, it's almost August and then we got to go back to school."

Well, that fetched me, sure enough. For a minute I just set there and wished there wouldn't ever be no more of school at all. But I thinks a minute more, the way you do, and I says to myself, hold on; s'pose it was summer all year long and you never had to go to school at all?—would you feel better than what you feel like now? H--k no, I says; I'd feel guilty about takin' pleasure when there's folks in the world killing themself; plus what fun is vacation if you don't know what school's like to make it matter? Well, then, says I, what's the use of you taking a summer vacation if you're just gonna think about nothing but how it's gonna end? So I reckoned I wouldn't bother no more about school coming, but just latch on to whatever was fun and live like I was born in a castle or something, which I did and which is why this paper is late and there ain't nothing more to write about and you are probably rotten glad of it, what with having to read so many of them. The end, sincerely, Sam Clemens.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Emily Dickinson, age 14


his summer I spent mostly locked in my room. I looked often through a peephole which I scraped in the paint which covers the window. Seeing the flowers, the birds, the abundance of leaves on the trees and bushes, the profusion of life everywhere, moved me to write this poem:

Summer --- danced ---
Outside my --- room ---
Eternally --
And -- lynched ---
The baby --- starling ---
In its shell



by Walter Whitman, American student, in my Twelfth Year &
in Excellent Health Except For Having to Come Back to School
After Summer Vacation


here was a child went forth every day of his summer vacation,
And the first object he stumbled over, that object he fell on,
And that object stained his trousers for the day or a certain part of the day
or a certain part of the day and part of the night or until Thursday. The dead cat in the ditch suspended so curiously beneath his sneakers
became a part of this child,
And tadpoles and crickets and the place where the dog was sick behind the rhubarb,
And losing twenty-four straight little league games by at least eight runs
became part of him. Getting beat up by Dub Cratchley became part of this child,
And losing his hat and having to wear an old one (indoors and out)
And the wasps in the orchard and the flies in the garbage and the earwigs in the boy's bed and the spiders in his shoes,
And the gravel of the drive and the boisterous drive of the gravel
(O gravel, I in the midst salute you,
For it may be that the quail will peck you,
Or it may be that the boys will toss you, O boys,
Or it may be that the tread of the tire will enfold you and bear you along the road to
the wide west and you will click upon the blabby pave till the driver shrieks and
shoots himself under the ribs, dying there by the great gravel of Da-Ko-Ta,
O gravel!)


And the fish became part of this child: tench, bream, sunfish, crappie, bluegill, bass,
sucker, carp, squaw, perch: all these too became part of the child's summer vacation.
Trout, salmon, redear, sturgeon, Shark, Usufruct, Nespelum, Huitzilopotchtli might
be these fish,
Stained lustrous silver in the moon. I was there. I saw them. But the summer reading assignment and the arithmetic make-up work and the book
report lost so curiously on the night before it was due; these things did not become
part of the child's summer vacation,
For this was a child who went forth too wise
(Like the wisdom of old men remembering Saratoga and Brandywine, Trenton and Yorktown,
Or the wisdom of the child in its mother's arms,
Or the old wisdom of the young, or the young wisdom of the old),
Too wise to waste summer in homework.And the magpies flew and the freight waggon ran over his cat,
And the sound of the ocarina went forth on the muggy air,
And the child went forth every day and was sick on the weedy ground by the pine tree,
And these things too stained the trousers of the child that day and the next day and all
the days of the summer,
Until the child went forth no more,
Seeing the schoolhouse in his future,
Stopped there somewhere waiting for him.



Henry James, Age 12


ames' first question, when he reached Scout Camp, was about his books; yet on his learning that not all of the tomes with, or, one might say, by which he was wont to beguile his unoccupied hours had made, so to speak, the journey with him, he was not, he was surprised to discover, especially upset. It was not, he realized, as it might have been said to have been during the years of his youth, or, as he preferred to think of it, his relative youth, when he might reasonably have been expected, we might have it, to behave unreasonably; indeed, he found less impulse to irrationality and tantrum now than at perhaps any point prior to this, his penultimate one before plunging, as it were, into the depthless pool (not the one literally at the east end of the camp, of course; but, rather, that one figuratively waiting at the east end of one's summer existence) of that existence typical--or not; he could not say with knowledge or, even, with that certitude born of that arrogant ignorance characteristic of certain personalities both within and without the polite social order--of twelve year old boys at Camp or, for all he knew, elsewhere. Be those things as they might, James knew--though, indeed, he could scarce say how he knew that he knew--that he would be able, perhaps even easily able, to adjust to an abridged, as it were, a truncated and bowdlerized style of life without the comfort and, more, the uplift, which had been his as a result of his regular perusal of and interaction with his library. Particularly, he reflected, scarcely cognizant of the counselors and custodial help lining his route along that eastern-edge lake and towards the undistinguished architecture of the grouping of tents known as Dirty Arm, would he miss his copy of the latest number of Davy Crockett's Almanac, though he had in addition, though he scarce acknowledged the fact even to himself even in those moments of "brown study" to which he had increasingly found himself prone these last months beyond his having achieved the age of twelve, become rather fond of a new volume, calf-bound, called Uncle Ducky's Big Day. The volumes, erstwhile companions, even friends, though they might have been, were absent, and our young Henry contrived as best he might to "get by", as an American comrade put it, without them. To that end, an end which of course was no end, but, rather, an interregnum, he played at Capture the Flag and Relay Races but, rather shockingly to his, he would be the first to admit it, fragile ego, he was prohibited by the Camp director from participating in the telling of tales around the camp fire, the director explaining that simple "I want my liver!" contes were infinitely to be preferred over two-volume--which is to say, two camp fire--investigations into what James' brother called the "psyche-study" of participants in the events which were retold at so shallow a level during those fire-lit evenings; when, James reflected moodily but without so much as a trace of that bitterness which would not have fit his generous spirit, the campers were informed of the activities of Hook Man without having so much as a hint as to the effects of those activities upon the further social development of the other participants in the adventures. Vowing to rectify at the earliest possible moment available to him for inditing more satisfying accounts of the real significance of those moments preserved in camp-fire tales, James settled amiably back with the almost stereo-typical thrusting outward of length of leg which so marks the transatlantic breed and began contemplating ways by which he and his mates might most effectually effectuate the raising of their counselor's underwear up the flagpole.


What I Did Last Summer

Frank Norris, age 12


t was summer, and according to his invariable custom Norris spent the months lying stupidly on the banks of a dry creekbed behind his house. The birds made lovely song in the rich foliage of the July-rich trees, but he was too hopelessly stupid to appreciate his surroundings. Late in the afternoon he would fall asleep, his mouth hanging idiotically open and his grimy bare feet twitching like the paws of a dreaming dog. Like the stagnant pools of a depraved city's open sewer, the
boy's gene pool was thick with the scum of hereditary inferiority.  Sated and dulled by the lassitude of the atmosphere, he would drift along the currents of sleep, his brain too lethargic even to dream. The very willow trees in the mud of the bank showed more sentience. When it was time to return from the outdoors he would move with the stodgy clumsiness of the habitual self-abuser, as often trying to enter the house by a wall as by a doorway. One day he came in and discovered that it had become autumn and he was due back in school—not that he was capable of deriving profit from intellectual pursuits—and that he needed to write an essay and he did and this is it.



Ger by trude Stein:!

A summer which simmers similar under some. Not being to the ardor. It could be that a door. Our dormouse. Summer means a more bags not frothful.
Because he knows that a duck a duck nose. To over one like the. With (out) their cousin there, cousin, it can never necessary. The exorcising stubs are drawn, celestial angled mounts cry rise. Hooper is.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Ernest Hemingway, age 12

When the summer came we were in Oak Park. There were fireflies in the nights and fishing in the days. It was a good summer.

For some it was not a good summer. For my friend Nick there was summer school. Afterwards there were exams and grades. It got nasty and he hated his pencils. It would have been all right if there had been wine, but we were twelve and the wineskins were full of lemonade. He knew it would be all right if he could fish. Fishing would make it all right. He wanted to fish more than he wanted to use the pencils. It would be all right if he could fish, truly and cleanly fish. The true clean
fish, and cleaning the true fish, would make the pencils all right. But he could not fish because he had to use the pencils. I fished and it was a good thing, but Nick could not fish and it was not good for him. This was when we realized that it was better to fish than it was to go to summer school, and we said that we would always fish together. But then it was September and the summer ended and Nick moved to Ishpeming and I walked to school in the rain.

P.S.: Mrs Hansen I have been working real hard to remember about not writing all those run-on sentences did I do better this time?

What I Did This Summer
Billy Faulkner, 6th Grade

earily recapitulant, the days spiraling in concentric retrograde, snatched backwards in the very instant of their birth beneath the repudiation of the earth-spurning tennis shoes of that soul damned--no, not damned, not even doomed: just fated—fated by the long slow fecundity of the Mississippi summer and by his own invincible and furious left-handedness so that even in the moment of its generation each motion seemed rushing to be its own negation; fated, then, in the summer's burning apotheosis and the unregenerate lefthandedness to the endless repetition of those motions, those gestures, those shadows and reflections of the unacknowledged because unrecognized desire to translate whole and untransmogrified the perfection of The Peach, as though in the moment of its
performance Ty Cobb's own fluid turn could be lifted from that far field and dropped, whole and still turning on that heroic pivot, onto the mottled darkness of north Mississippi soil laid by that moiling father of waters through ages of sussurant rushing immobility; fated, then, to the tearing free of recalcitrant muscle and reluctant tendon from the sad long sentence of gravity, to that shadow and that reflection of those Cobb motions as the days of summer burned beneath my sneakers and I played first base for the Chuck's Hardware little league team.



Victor Bobb now teaches at Whitworth college in Spokane, Washington, where he specializes in the American Novel, the American Literature survey, and interdisciplinary humanities. A widely — sometimes bizarrely — published writer of fiction, podiatric advice, and rural lore, he worked as a full-time freelance writer from 1992-1994 while on leave from Whitworth. Having founded EIU's rugby club in 1979, he weaned himself gradually from his 20-year rugby habit in the late 90s.