Excerpts from The Story Of A Family by national award-winning author David Loye,
author of the award-winning The Healing of a Nation, The Leadership Passion,
The Knowable Future, The Sphinx and the Rainbow, An Arrow Through Chaos,
Darwin's Lost Theory of Love, editor of The Evolutionary Outrider and The Great Adventure: Toward a Fully Human Theory of Evolution, and with Riane Eisler, co-author of The
Partnership Way

To purchase a copy of The Story Of A Family go to www.booksurge.com

Moses Tully

Moses Tully was then serving in the commissary or supply branch of the Union Army. Indicating the affinity for business dealing that was to surface so powerfully in his son, my grandfather, this meant it was Moses Tully’s job to keep the supply lines open, the goods flowing, and to forage locally for whatever else in the way of food, clothing, and shelter he could find. His wife Mary Price, with their two tiny daughters Lulu and Blanche, had followed him to Johnson City, then had to flee to Nashville in Tennessee just a year or so after General Grant succeeded in driving the Confederate army out of Nashville.
     "Mama put her wedding presents and belongings in a sheet, their old negro man slung it over his shoulder, departed, and negro and belongings were never seen again. Papa took Lulu by the hand. Mama bore me aloft in her arms,” Aunt Blanche later wrote of their departure from Johnson City as General Hood’s army approached.
     "I was, so I am told, a pretty babe and quite plump. As they fled for the railroad station, Mama slipped and fell with me in a mud puddle. Saved our lives as a bomb shattered all about us. Had Mama been up on her hind legs we would have been killed.
     "When we got to the train, it was held up for some time—rails at the other end had been cut. When we arrived in Nashville, both Lulu and I came down the smallpox contracted from people in the railroad station."

       In Tennessee, as in much of the South, "running whiskey" was one of the more colorful and daring ways of making a living for those not graced with owning a plantation, or who might prefer this to the tame life of a shop clerk or the stink of tanning hides. They were called "moonshiners," as to hide their operations they often worked their homemade distilleries, called "stills," at night. It was Moses Tully Sanders' job, as Revenue Officer, to track down the moonshiners and jail them for failure to pay taxes to the federal government on their whiskey.

       The story goes that one day the moonshiners caught Moses Tully and were going to hang him. But he began to tell a story that at first so enthralled them, and then so greatly entertained them, that they got to laughing so hard they dropped the rope and Moses Tully
got away.

       We know further that he was a man who relished humor, and from how this trait was to swell to epic proportions among his children, we know he must have been quite a prankster. We have, indeed, much to go by here for his own son Tully, most distinguished of all later in the prankster regard, was said to have most reminded his mother of Tully the departed father. Above all, however, he was apparently an immensely gifted story teller. This information seems well-grounded because of the fact that of his five children, four were to gain fame within the family as story tellers.

House on White Bear Lake
       The main structure was known either as "the Lake Place" or "the Big House." It was the big, old, rambling two story Minnesotan summer place that Clarence had originally purchased from my father’s relatives, the Gillettes. It had been winterized to make it possible for Clarence, Edith, and the children to live there year round. Before then, they split the year between the Lake Place and usually the old Angus Hotel in St.Paul.

       The other structure was the Wolfe House. As long as I lived there—for it was here that my mother, sisters and I always stayed during the summers we vacationed in Minnesota—the name gave one a rather pleasant twinge of apprehension. I suppose what was working up within the preconscious was an image of wolves sneaking around the side of the house, or appearing suddenly at the door, eyes aflame, fangs bared, drooling evil.

       “The evenings around the fireplace were such fun with Dad telling stories, Mama playing the piano, and apples or chestnuts roasting on the hearth. Dad describes the family circle in a letter to me:
       "’Nov.ll, 1921. Last night all of us including Mabel (home for Thurs., Fri., and Sat.) clustered or cluttered around the fireplace and merry quips, light persiflage and witty badinage was the order of the evening. All reported having a good time. Everything was in accord with a cold snappy outdoors. We had a roaring fire, the cats' silhouette on the wall, even the mugs of cider simmering slow, and along with them, as Tully would probably say, 'seven crazy nuts from the October woods.'
       The cold, however, was far from being all merry times. It was as I remember it from my childhood as the city boy in winter in Minneapolis— and far worse out there in Mahtomedi on the lake, where I never lived in winter. From a letter to my mother from C.W.:
       "Nov.24, 1921. We are digging out after the worst blizzard in years. For two days starting with rain, sleet and hail, and then a fierce snowstorm with cold northwest wind and a gale howled until this morning when a dazzling sun upon huge white snow drifts and frost covered trees makes a wonderful sight. Our house seems completely buried.

       Blanche, second oldest of the girls, was a feisty, flirtations, and indeed as it was to prove rather flamboyant type with a strong sense of adventure. She had a year of college at Iowa State University. She took a teaching job in a school "where the previous male teacher had been thrown through the window by the class," so small she had to move her chair from behind the desk to be seen.

       Once she had been young and pretty family pictures showed, but over the long span of time I knew her she was this tiny woman, with a crinkly little face like a soft walnut, or like one of those old time dolls with a soft pink dried apple head, but with her jet black hair, upon which she prided herself, always neatly waved in the “permanent” that was fashionable in those days. One bright eye had been blinded long ago and the other was clouded with a cataract so immense it was a wonder she could see.
       I was to know those eyes with intimacy through a typical involvement. She was staying with her daughter Blanche Dickman in a town in New Jersey, possibly Summit. I was visiting, down from Dartmouth in New Hampshire while a student there. I rose one morning to come downstairs to find her moaning and muttering to herself, a tiny troubled presence near the foot of the stairs.
"Is something wrong, Aunt Blanche?"
"Oh, it's nothing," she said, but then yelped as she rubbed her eye.
"What is it?"
"Well, it's my eye. I think I've got something in it. It hurts so. Would you mind looking at it?"
So I bent over from what seemed the height of seven feet to gaze anxiously into the tiny upraised face.
"Do you see it?" she whimpered. "Is it very big?"
I was now practically eyeball to eyeball with her. I could see nothing but the cataract in close-up.
"No," I said—whereupon with the impact of a cannonball she leaped up howling, "April Fool!"

     According to her—and, as will be seen, we certainly have no reason to doubt her—over the succeeding three years she "won over the whole pupil populace before leaving for secretarial training." Then tiring of the dismal prospects for the struggle in Iowa City, she took off north to Minnesota, soon followed by Clarence, for what was then the most glamorous city for the region, St.Paul. Here she found employment in the St.Paul Book and Stationery company—soon destined under Clarence’s management to become the darling of Eastern publishers, the talk of the book trade, and the great book man's book store of the time.
      Not too long afterward, in response to reports that Blanche and Clarence sent back of better prospects in this "metropolis" to the north, and also likely because of the pull of wanting to see the family reunited, Mama decided to follow with the others. And so the Sanderses came to be embedded in, and thereafter attained their memorable character as a family, in the Minnesota of the twin cities and the little town of much the same size in our time as is the Lake Woebegone of Garrison Keillor— in our case the sprawling hamlet of Mahtomedi along the east shore of White Bear Lake, about 15 miles north of St.Paul.

       Lulu the oldest had first found work in the book store, then Blanche, and then the bookish Clarence began his rise to the bookman’s hall of fame for his time. Tully, odd-jobbing, in time began to study to be a lawyer, while Grace, as we shall see, provided entertainment for her school mates up through the grades to finish high school.


       Born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1865, climbing up through the hardships of the early days in Iowa and Minnesota to a position of affluence and considerable influence in the book business of his time, on meeting him it would have been hard to believe that C.W. had ever been a boy so foolish as to lick a frozen pump handle. The photos of his prime years show the patriarch of Victorian presence, balding, the coat of fine cloth open to allow freedom to the well-rounded and increasingly assertive belly, with watch chain across the vest.
      Almost every photo, even in the most informal family settings—picnicing, on the beach, lounging on a grass bank, or in the hammock slung under the oak trees on what became known as Sanders hill, just above the Lake house —show him thus formally attired. His was, in short, a magnificent presence inviting both the awe and the adoration of his children and the respect of all beyond the magic circle of his own.
      In these photos he always seems to be glad he is there among the usual throng that over the years swelled into his seven children, with a few more from the neighborhood tossed in for good measure. He seems to be enjoying himself and enjoying them, but always there comes across a certain quiet and contemplative detachment from it all. His mind, it seems, is both there and elsewhere. A very private public person, one might say.
       Then came the shock of shocks. Clarence, thought to be surely cut out to be a bachelor and therefore forever their own, got serious about the young art student working in the book store who became my grandmother. She was what to them seemed on the edge of being scandalously younger than him—only 23 to his age 34. But he bicycled all the long way to Stillwater and back with her (some 20 miles!), and goodness knows what else went on, and before long Clarence W.Sanders and Edith Kenrick (of the Boston Kenricks no less, by no means a minor connection, it will be seen) were married.

       "Mr.Sanders was one of the outstanding bookmen of the country. He was a man of strong character, independent and confident in action, forthright in his pronouncements and abiding by all agreements, a forceful builder of sales and a careful far-sighted business man."
       He was tolerant with his children up to a certain point but then firm with steel resolve. "He could wither you with a word—that was our worst punishment, as he never touched one of us in anger," my mother writes. "He used to say that anyone who would strike a child just because he was bigger 'ought to be strung up by his thumbs.'"

      There is the picture of himself and Mark Twain. Of course it was just the stock group picture taken for the whole bookseller's convention for that particular year. There were, we had to admit, about one hundred other people in the picture besides C.W. and Mark Twain. And he wasn't the nearest to Twain, we also had to admit. He later said Twain was sitting right next to him originally, but moved away to the front just before the picture was taken. But also, even then, C.W. wasn't the farthest away.
      And it couldn't be denied that Daddy had personally met Twain all by himself and had a good talk about the Tennessee of Moses Tully's times. It had happened quite unexpectedly one time Daddy was in New York City on business. He was walking along and suddenly he looked up and saw Mark Twain himself sitting on a little veranda just above him.
      He stopped to call up his admiration and identify himself as a book seller, whereupon Twain invited him up and they had their talk.


      "My mother, Edith Fletcher Kenrick, was a stenographer in the Book Store and an art student. Dad fell in love with her. He used to follow her to Mendota where at the time she was sketching with an art class. One day he even bicycled clear from St.Paul to Mendota and was so exhausted upon arriving that she had to revive him by pouring cold water over him from a pump.
      On April 20, 1899, they were married. He was 34 and she 24 years old.
As long as I knew her, she was the outsider. She wasn't the least bit unpleasant, never. And she could I'm sure be personable and charming. In her letters she seems to be having no trouble including herself in the picture. There are references by the others to her with affection. And there is the picture of the loving couple during the courtship of Edith by C.W. that we will come to in my mother's reminiscences. But for all the time I knew her, and within letter after letter, one finds the larger actuality somehow perhaps most deeply symbolized by the separate rooms for Edith and C.W., to which they retire separately for the night.

       There are two ways of looking at Edith in retrospect. One is of the talented musician and artist, who along with C.W. gave to her children and succeeding generations their love of music and art and the impulse toward altruism that became such a driving motivation for her son, my uncle Tully. Edith who played the piano and games of evenings with her children. The other is of Edith, who for whatever reason simply lacked a natural capacity for homemaking or mothering, who although this was meliorated by concerts, operas, trips abroad and such, for many years was forced to live mainly as household drudge and servant to the charismatic husband and the self-absorbed children—as most children are, growing up.

       Yet in the end justice, divine or otherwise, prevailed. When C.W. died, thanks to his gift for estimating the sales of a book down to the last ten copies and a gift for canny investing, Edith was left with what in those days was a considerable chunk of wealth. And what did she do with it? What would you do? Yes, of course—she “flew the coop.”
      She turned the money over to son Dick to manage, and after years of being backstage mother and drudge in that family, she abruptly left it. There would be the occasional postcard, the occasional letter. But by and large she was gone from Minnesota to the warmer lands of people who did not find her strange, but rather with her money, her art—and the warmth and charm she now could attain with them, being like herself strangers—welcomed her.
      She was off to Mexico, South America, and Spain. And there she flowered as easily the most accomplished and striking artist the generations preceding her, as well as most of those likely to follow her, have produced or will produce.

Life on the Lake

       “One of our happiest times was a trip to the Peninsula. Dad would row to the tip where we'd pile out on the sandy point and head for the woods. The trees were so thick and tall that little sunlight reached certain hollows and it would be in these spots that we'd find little pink Dutchman's breeches, bloodroot, anemones, mayflowers, jack-in-the-pulpits, and sometimes the rare Minnesota state flower, the lady slipper. After our usual lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and milk, we'd climb back into the boat to be rowed to our dock.
      “Spring brought the summer people to the lake. After having no neighbors all winter, it was exciting even to have the Longs, three maiden sisters and mother, take up their quiet life in the big English-type cottage next door. The Reagans, the Lanphers, and best of all, the Sanders moved out from town—Grandma, Aunts Lulu and Grace, Aunt Blanche and her family, Uncle Tully, Aunt May, Jean and Donnie.

Lulu and Grace

       They were always referred to as “Lulu and Grace,” in deference to Lulu’s age priority I would guess. But it was Grace who immediately seized and held your attention, with Lulu usually even less than a presence in the background.

       The picture I carry in mind of Aunt Grace in the house on the hill is of this small, stocky, bubbling, chortling presence with merry eyes hung in bags on her face, with a moplike head of curly hair somewhat on the wild and unkempt side.

       To me, as a child, Lulu was always the shadow presence. She was the silent one wherever and whenever there gathered this clan of rollicking and fun-loving story tellers.
She was the grey one in the small and to me endlessly fascinating and colorful world that Blanche, Clarence, Tully, and Grace brought with them individually, or upon arriving as a pair or more into any other group.

       It was then I always became aware of the other silent person in the room— Aunt Lulu. Little more than a grey presence , she either sat there like a large mouse, eyes glittering, seeming to enjoy whatever was being said, but one could never be sure as she never said anything. Or she would as silently as a ghost pass from kitchen to tiny living room with little offerings of tea or cookies to the animated conversationalists. She was always the watcher or servant, never a principal or even much of presence in her own right.

Fritzie & the Harrar Children

       Also fearless when it came to dealing with Fritzie was my younger sister Wendy, just a very little girl then, who would climb all over him, as also would the children of my mother’s sister Betty, whose married name was Harrar. The audacity of the Harrar children particularly impressed Aunt Grace.
     "’September 15, 1947,’” Aunt Grace writes. ‘Leigh phoned me that Betty and family were coming. Both for his sake and for theirs, she said I had better remove Fritzie. I tried my best, but he heard them come and charged downstairs before I could stop him and the next few moments are beyond my feeble efforts to express. The boys and Nanny threw themselves flat on him and completely mashed him—with the addition of a little mustard he would have made a grand sandwich.”


       Of all the fabled five I most loved to hear of as a boy, growing up, this son, Brother Tully, was easily my favorite. I see the earlier newspaper account identified him as a "tax commissioner." This for a time remained a mystery to me. I had understood he was a lawyer. The answer the Mahtomedi chronicles provide is that
     "Uncle Tully was a Tax Commissioner for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He had earned his law degree by attending night school at the St.Paul College of Law."
      He looked like Teddy Roosevelt. He had the same bluff face, crinkly smile, his hair being short cropped and just a touch unruly, close to his head. He also had the solid look, the portly, vested and vigorous substantially of just plain physical being that one associated with T.Roosevelt the trust-buster and ex-Rough Rider.
      The youngest of the two boys, he had grown up relatively free of the pressure upon his older brother, Clarence, to be the nose-to-the-grindstone provider and male pillar for the family after Moses Tully's death. Though a successful lawyer and certainly a good provider for his own family, it may have been this freedom from the responsibility expected of the eldest male—which made Clarence much the more sober and serious of the two—that made Tully the most playful and fun-loving of the five, even excelling Blanche in this regard.