August 2022

Vol. 50, No. 4

Nature Writing at its Best: The Journals of S. Waldo Bailey

Excerpt from S. Waldo Bailey Journal
Excerpt from S. Waldo Bailey Journal.

I have been an avid nature enthusiast since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper.” Growing up in Pittsfield, at a very early age I gravitated to the Junior Naturalist Club at the Berkshire Museum and later to the Hoffmann Bird Club (HBC). It was through the HBC that I met Priscilla Bailey, daughter of the late S. Waldo Bailey. Around 2013, in conversations with Priscilla, she mentioned to me more than once her desire that I should someday edit her father’s journals into a book form. I really had no idea what she was asking of me since she never showed me any of her father’s journals (“the Journals”). I told her I might consider the project but would need to see the journals before making any commitment. At that time, she was not willing to let them be seen. In 2015, Priscilla passed at the age of 95. At her funeral, Priscilla’s neighbor informed me that Priscilla had recommended that her father’s books and papers should be given to me. The administrator of Priscilla’s estate was made aware that I should have the rights to this material. Almost two years elapsed before I was informed by a neighbor near Priscilla’s house that the contents of the house were being cleared out and everything was going to the dumpster. As the house was being prepared for sale, I was informed that, “If you still have any interest in the books and papers, you better get down here right now!” I got there as quickly as I could. I was met by the administrator who said, “Oh, so you are still interested in all those old books and papers?” I had to move fast because everything was in the process of being cleared by a work crew.

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