Here are the headlines of this newsletter. Click to go to the article.
Symposium To Highlight Movies and Memories
James Jones as father, friend and author will be explored at the eighth annual James Jones Literary Society symposium, "James Jones: Remembered," to be held Nov. 7 at the Zwermann Arts Center of Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., Jones’ hometown.
Two major Hollywood films produced this year provide a unique perspective on the life and work of the author whose first novel, From Here to Eternity, was selected this year by The Modern Library Board as one of the "100 best English-language novels of the 20th century" and by the American Film Institute as one of the "100 best movies ever produced." Both films will provide a framework for probing aspects of the man and his work at the symposium.
A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries, which premiered Sept. 18, will highlight the symposium program. The film was adapted from a novel by the same name, written by James Jones’ daughter, Kaylie Jones, as a fictionalized version of the years the Jones family lived in Paris, and their return to America. As featured speaker at the symposium, Kaylie Jones will discuss aspects of the book and the film, which will be screened for the symposium audience.
The Thin Red Line, which is scheduled to be released at Christmas, is an adaptation of James Jones’ novel by that name, the second novel in his war trilogy. Society board member Ray Elliott, who observed the filming of parts of the movie on location in Australia, also will speak at the symposium, sharing his insights on the filmmakers’ interpretation of Jones’ words.
"Remembering the Young James Jones" will be the topic of a panel discussion by Robinson residents Tinks and Helen Howe, and Don Sackrider, who knew Jones as a young writer. Also joining the panel will be Richard King, the Society’s Web site editor, who will relay reminiscences of Jones which have been shared via Internet by those who crossed paths with the author.
The symposium will be open, free of charge, to the public, as well as to members of the Society; and all prospective members or anyone interested in James Jones and his writing will be welcomed. All current members of the organization are urged by Society President Jerry Bayne to attend the day-long event in order to take part in considering several important Society matters at the annual business meeting to be held from 9 to 9:45 a.m., following registration beginning at 8 a.m.
The morning program will feature the panel discussion of "Remembering the Young James Jones," followed by Ray Elliott’s address on the filming of The Thin Red Line. The movie was adapted and directed by renowned filmmaker Terrence Malick, and features, as does Jones’ book, an Army rifle company during the American campaign on Guadalcanal in 1942-43.
The story is told with graphic and unsparing fidelity from the moment of landing, through months of bloody and exhausting battles, through jungle patrol and a respite in bivouacs and hospitals, to the departure of the survivors. Newcomer actors Adrien Brody, Ben Chaplin and Jim Caviezel are joined in the film by veteran actors George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Bill Pullman and John Travolta.
After a break for lunch, which may be purchased in the Lincoln Trail College cafeteria, and the awarding of the First Novel Fellowship, the afternoon program will get under way with a discussion about the filming of A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries by Kaylie Jones, her husband and fellow Societyk board member Kevin Heisler, and board member Don Sackrider, all of whom were on hand for parts of the shooting of the Merchant Ivory film, which stars Kris Kristofferson as the James Jones-like character and Barbara Hershey as his wife.
The film—like the book—centers around the h"Willis" family, which Kaylie Jones patterned, in part, on her own family. The film’s much-awarded director, James Ivory (A Room with a View, Howard’s End), has said, "I was attracted to (the book) by the autobiographical element. In my mind, I based the character of Willis as much on a college friend of mine as on the character drawn in Kaylie’s book—his western speech, his cuss-words, his common sense attitude to life. Kris Kristofferson, without ever having met either model, uncannily managed somehow to personify them both."
A Soldier’s Daughter Never cries is Kaylie Jones’ third novel. For many years she has been a Writer in Residence in the New York City public schools through Teachers & Writers Collaborative and has taught fiction workshops at The Writer’s Voice from 1988 to 1997. She then became involved in the creation of the MFA Program in Writing of Long Island University’s Southampton campus, where she still teaches fiction.
The symposium will end at approximately 4 p.m. (cash bar opens at 6 p.m.). Reservations for the banquet, at $18 per person, must be made by Oct. 28.
Symposium participants may make motel reservations at Old Lake Village at Quail Creek Country Club on East Highland Avenue, 618-544-8674; at Best Western Robinson Inn, 1500 W. Main St., 618-544-8448; or at the Arvin Motel, Outer East Main Street, 618-544-2143.
It is with pride that I report to members of the James Jones Literary Society the accomplishments of your elected board members during the past year. The following are abbreviated reports. More detailed committee reports will be presented at our annual membershipl business meeting at 9 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, immediately prior to the symposium.
The JJLS First Novel Fellowship Award Committee (board members include Patricia Heaman, Kevin Heisler, Kaylie Jones and Michael Lennon) have been incredibly successful with their selections. Four of the six winners of the First Novel Fellowship Award have been or are about to be published. The selection process requires weeks of work by committee members, their colleagues and friends, and many associated with the English department at the University of Pennsylvania at Wilkes. Imagine: There were 470 entries in this year’s contest! The winner of the 1998 First Novel Fellowship Award will be announced at the fall symposium, along with a report about the selection process.
The role of the Finance Committee (chairman Warren Mason, Maxine Zwermann, Don Sackrider and Juanita Martin) has become especially significant for our organization during the past year. As our organization has grown, so have our financial assets and financial obligations. Treasurer Martin began the year by drafting a fiscal 1998 budget for the Society. She has subsequently worked earnestly to keep our organization on steady financial footing. Wisely investing proceeds from the Charles Robb estate have required many hours of work on the part of these committee members. The committee’s thoughtful and professional handle of Society finances is admirable.
Because of our tremendous growth, at the Nov. 7 business meeting our members will address the need to establish our own charter and to secure charitable organization status (probably 501 C/3) with the Internal Revenue Service. Since 1991 the Lincoln Trail College Foundation has assisted us by handling our operating account deposits and payments. Our new independent accounting procedures will need to be established by June 30, 1999.
During the spring, the Society self-published a collection of poetry by Charles Robb. A member of the Handy Colony and an accomplished poet, Charles Robb bequeathed half of his estate to the James Jones Literary Society. The earnings from half of this endowment are to support the general operating fund, and earnings from the other half are to support the First Novel Fellowship Award.
In an effort to honor the memory of Charles Robb for his generosity and faith in the organization, the board voted at its November 1997 meeting to undertake this chapbook project. Members of the board assisting with the project were Mike Lennon, Tom Wood and Jon Shirota. Lennon wrote the profoundly sensitive preface and served as chief editor of the publications. It was printed by the Wayne County Press in Fairfield, Ill., and has been registered with the Office of Copyrights, Library of Congress. Copies of the chapbook will be available at the symposium.
On behalf of the JJLS in 1997 Board members Warren Mason, Carl Becker and Robert Thobaben submitted a finely crafted application to the United States Postal Stamp Commemorative Committee in Washington to issue a James Jones stamp. Warren Mason has been regularly contacting a representative of the selection committee. The proposal is under consideration for the year 2001 as stamps for the year 2000 are currently being considered. The year 2001 will commemorate the 80th anniversary of James Jones’ birth and the 60th year sinc ethe bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Board member Richard King has been responsible for designing and updating our organization’s Web site at http://jamesjonesliterarysociety.org . This attractive and informative presence on the Internet has already has nearly 4,000 hits.
On a snowy afternoon in early February the committee to play the 1998 symposium met in earnest at Lincoln Trail College. Board members serving on the Steering Committee who attended the meeting were Maxine Zwermann, Richard King, Margot Nightingale, Helen Howe, Tom Wood, Juanite Martin and Michael Mullen. Behind the scenes, committee members have faced many challenges with mounting the upcoming symposium. Kayle Jones, Helen Howe, Juanita Martin and Margot Nightingale have been instrumental in pulling all the pieces of the puzzle together.
All board members have assisted the membership committee, chaired by Kathy Stillwell, with increasing our membership roster during the past year. As a result, we have become an international organization with members in Europe, Mexico, Canada and Australia. Even our board became international last year with the election of Claude-Marie Lane of Montreal.
Our organization is fortunate to have professionals like Ray Elliott, Vanessa Faurie, Judy Everson, Mike Lennon, Don Sackrider and Warren Mason working pro bono to promote and implement our projects. Because of the sincere and committed efforts of board members, I believe the future of the James Jones Literary Society is very bright.
I truly appreciate having had the opportunity to serve as the Society’s president this year. There have been many exciting moments and numerous experiences I will not soon forget. Following the business meeting on Nov. 7, I will pass the gavel to the new president.
--Jerry Bayne, President
Malick's Screen Version of Thin Red Line Takes Shape
There are no heroes in The Thin Red Line. No one stands out under the numbing impact of war. Instead, wemeet a dozen men who change, who suffer and who make essential discoveries about themselves.
The Thin Red Line is a combat story about an Army rifle company named C-Charlie during the American campaign on Guadalcanal in 1942-43.
The film is set largely during the massive battle on Guadalcanal Island, in which the men of Charlie Company try to overtake a Japanese stronghold, a hill known as "210." The story is told with graphic and unsparing fidelity from the moment of landing, through months of bloody and exhausting battles, through jungle patrol and respite in bivouacs and hospitals, to the departure of the survivors.
The eventual taking of the Japanese position is secondary to how the lives of the company men are affected by their common quest. Among the most vivid characters we get to known in The Thin Red Line are First Sergeant Welsh (Sean Penn), the brooding cynic of the company, who is also an efficient killer; Captain "Bugger" Staros (Elias Koteas), the company's moral conscience who is ultimately relived of his duties; Fife (Adrien Brody), the company clerk and, initially, a cowerd who grows into a brave and loyal Army man; Witt (Jim Caviezel), the Kentucky-born idealist who goes AWOL, only later to rejoin the company he loves; Bell (Ben Chaplin), a man torn by his love for his wife back home and a parallel fear the she will leave him for another man; Mazzi (Larry Romano), the slick talking New Yorker; Tills (Tim Blake Nelson), his more analytical sidekick; and Colonel Tall (Nick Nolte), the ambitious leader whose orders are to take Hill 210, even if it means the loss of countless American soldiers and the men of Charlie Company.
Principle photography on The Thin Red Line commenced in June 23, 1997, in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia. The production then moved to Guadalcanal, where the story is set.
The Thin Red Line is directed by Terrence Malick from a screenplay he wrote based on the epic novel by James Jones. George Stevens Jr. is the executive producer, and Robert Geisler, John Roberdeau and Grant Hill are producing for Fox 2000 Pictures and Phoenix Pictures.
Additional cast members include more of today's finest actors: George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Bill Pullman and John Travolta. Other newcomers handpicked by Maclick for principal roles within Charlie Company include John Savage, Jared Leto, Dash Mihok, John C. Reilly, Lukas Haas, Nick Stahl and Arie Verveen.
The Thin Red Line marks a much-anticipated return to the director's chair by Malick, whose two previous pictures, Badlands and Days of Heaven, were hailed by critics worldwide. For the latter, Malick received the New York Film Critics Award, the National Society of Film Critics Award and the Cannes Film Festival Award, all for Best Director.
A Rhodes Scholar and former philosophy professor and journalist, Malick also attended the Center for Advanced Film Studies at the American Film Institute, where he first met AFI founder and The Thin Red Line producer George Stevens Jr. and Phoenix Pictures chairman Mike Medavoy, Malick's former agent.
A noted filmmaker in his own right, Stevens Jr. produced, wrote and directed George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey, an acclaimed portrait of his father. He has received 11 Emmys for his television programs, including one for Separate But Equal, starring Sidney Poitier, which he wrote, produced and directed, and five for The Kennedy Center Honors, which he conceived and will produce for the 20th time this year. Stevens received an Honorary Life Achievement Award from the AFI earlier this year.
Producers Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau have spent almost a decade working with Malick to bring The Thin Red Line to the screen, acquiring the rights of the novel from Gloria Jones in 1988.
The director of photography is twoo-time Academy Award-winner John Toll, ASC (Braveheart, Legends of the Fall). The production designer is Jack Fisk, who collaborated with Malick on Badlands and Days of Heaven. Music is by Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer (The Lion King), and the costume designer is Margo Wilson.
James Jones' first novel, From Here to Eternity, took eight years to write and earned considerable controversy both in the United States and England. The motion picture adaptation, released in 1953, was directed by Fred Zinnemann and starred Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Jones followed that with two more novels--Some Came Running and The Pistol--before turning his attentions to write The Thin Red Line. The latter was hailed worldwide as one of the finest works on men in battle ever written. When it was first published in 1962, The New York Times called it "James Jones' best…distinguished by a surging power, by impressive skill in characterizing and by the author's intense emotional commitment."
The narrative was based on Jones' own experience. In 1939, he joined the American Army soon after leave school. He was serving at Scholfield Barracks, inland from Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked. Jones was promoted to corporate in 1942 but was reduced to private 18 months later. In 1944 he was made sergeant, but again was busted to private. He was wounded at Guadalcanal.
Director Terrence Malick had long admired the novel before deciding to translate it for the big screen. Malick's enthusiasm for the book and the film is shared by executive producer George Stevens Jr.
"This is a film about a landmark of World War II," Stevens says. "The United States decided that the Japanese advance through the Pacific Islands had to be stopped and chose Guadalcanal at the first encounter. It became the initial test of American fighting men.
"The characters are fascinating, and we were fortunate to have such remarkable actors playing these roles. Terry Malick is a thoughtful man and a gifted director, and we are all proud to be engaged in a film of considerable aspiration."
With two major Hollywood movies associated with late author James Jones due for release this fall, members of the international James Jones Literary Society, headquartered in Robinson, Ill., are gearing up for a revival of interest in Jones' work, and a barrage of inquiries about Jones' life and background.
Those who have reminiscenes, snapshots, or memorabilia of Jones to share with The Society and the public are asked to send them to The James Jones Literary Society, c/o Juanita Martin, Lincoln Trail College, 11220 State Highway 1, Robinson, IL 62454. Submissions will be evaluated for publication in The Society newsletter, on The Society's Internet Web Site, or at the annual symposium scheduled this year on Nov. 7 at Lincoln Trail College. Each submission should include name, address, and telephone number of the sender.
Fall and winter release dates have been set for the movie The Thin Red Line, adapted from Jones' novel of the same name; and A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, a fictionalized version of the years the Jones family lived in Paris and later in America, adapted from a novel written by Jones' daughter, Kaylie Jones.
A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries is a Merchant Ivory film (Howard's End, Room With a View) and stars Kris Kristofferson as American ex-patriate writer, Bill Willis, and Barbara Hershey stars as his wife, Marcella.
"These films are bound to raise awareness of Jim Jones and pique interest in the details of his early life in rural eastern Illinois," said Jerry Bayne of Mt. Carmel (Ill.), president of The James Jones Literary Society.
"We're hoping that people who knew Jones long ago will search their memories for stories or anecdotes relating to Jones, for experiences they shared with him as schoolmates, or later acquaintances. There need be no literary significance to their reminiscences. All new information we can gather will be highly valued by The Society, and will contribute to the store of knowledge about a major American author."
From Betty Lou (Miller) Baker, Oblong, Ill.
We lived on South Madison Street in Robinson, and I went to Lincoln Grade School. My brother and I walked by where James Jones lived with the Handys on Mulberry Street. You could hear him out on their patio, typewriter clicking away.
One of my brothers mowed yard for the Handys, so he saw Mr. Jones quite often. His nickname for my brother was "Sarge" because he had given him a military hat of his. I don't know why otherwise; it was just something Mr. Jones did. He liked my brother and took him on rides for errands in a sports car.
In the summertime, I remember Mr. Jones would go to a vacant lot on the corner of Howard and Mulberry and shoot at his target with a bow and arrow. We (the neighborhood kids) would gather around and return his arrows for him. He would give us nickels, dimes and quarters for this.
He would tell us to stay back behind him. Then when he was finished, he let us run to get them and give us the reward of the change. Mr. Jones, I think, liked children. He always would give the younger ones a chance, too, so they wouldn't have to compete with the older ones. I was too young at the time to notice or even appreciate that.
At that time in his life, Mr. Jones was a well-built, handsome, educated man. Later in life, I realized that he truly was a man ahead of his time. I think they should at least try to put an historical plaque on the patio on Mulberry Street, because he sure wrote a lot of his book out there.
From Bob Jones, Billings, Mont.
It was with much interest I read the article in the March 5, 1998, issue of the Robinson Constitution regarding the revival of interest in Jim Jones' life.
My father, Harry Jones, bought the house on East Walnut Street (in Robinson, Ill.) from Jim's dad, Ray, in 1936 or 1937. We lived there through about 1945 or so. My dad and I were Chevrolet dealers in Robinson beginning in 1935 until I sold the business in 1980.
One night at a party, I had a conversation with Jim regarding children. He remarked that people had children only to heighten their own egos. I responded by telling him that, while preparing for the evening, I discovered a wet diaper on my pillow in our bedroom.
Assuredly, I told him, that did little for my ego nor were our egos the reason my wife and I had children. As I recall, we had a good laught over it, and perhaps he mellows just a bit in regard to his position. (Parenthetically, my wife was not in the habit of being careless with wet diapers.)
The picture of the house (on East. Walnut Street) in the paper brought back pleasant memories of my childhood and adolescence. Sunday mornings at the Handy home, reading the comics and visiting with friends, my wonderful parents and sister, my grandparents who lived with us, and all the activities of school, playmates, etc., come to mind.
It was a great time to live. Community standards were such that locked doors on cars and homes were a rarity. A person's word meant more than a written contract. Honor and integrity were highly regarded.
In contrast, today's community standards seem to have sunk proportionately to the increase in technical advancements. Crime, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and innuendo, greed, sense of self rather than selflessness have had rapid growth over the years. Still we have much for which to be thankful.
Wouldn't it be fun to read what Jim would offer today?
Where The Sea Used to Be is Rick Bass' first full-length novel, and the 1995 James Jones Literary First Novel Fellowship Award winner is receiving excellent reviews. Bass has published short story collections and several books of natural history, so he already has an appreciative audience. He has worked on this novel since 1985.
The story it set in Montana's north country near the Canadian border in a community, Swan Valley, with only one road to enter in the summer and virtually secluded in winter. It is the story of a battle between a geologist, Old Dudley, and his daughter, Mel, for the spirits and souls of two men--his proteges and her lovers, Matthews and Wallis. Dudley takes pride in breaking the spirit fo his geologists, and much of the story deals with that process.
Swan Valley is home to a grup of townspeople whose lives add much to the story. I am particularly fond of Joshua, the coffin maker, who carves coffins in the shape of birds and other forms of nature.
Old Dudley has drilled 19 dry holes, and he sends Wallis in to find the spot for his next well. Wallis reads Dudley's old notebooks and through them and his growing appreciation and love for Mel and her life loses his desire to further damage the area with another well.
The story becomes a narration on the interrelationships between man and the natural world. The story includes wonderful descriptions of a drought, a forest fire, a massive amount of snow, and the survival of the wildlife, as well as the people, as they struggle to exist.
Certainly the descriptions of nature and life in this area are unparalleled in the writings of other authors. Bass' wonderful vocabulary and his use of the language makes one think of the writings of Faulkner, but he has honed this ability to a fine edge. Kirkus in its review said:
"One reads this novel for such descriptive passages as this: 'Flaming trees and burning snags and limbs falling like swords with whiffs of sound like the cutting of paper with sharp scissors….' The story's drama builds not through the action per se, but from the intensity of its characters' observations of themselves and of the exerior that nurtures, tests and reshapes them."
To this I can only add a heartfelt "Amen." This is not the kind of book I normally seek out to read, but I found myself fascinated with it from beginning to end.
Rick Bass received the James Jones Literary Society First Novel Fellowship Award the third year it was given and was in Robinson to receive the award. He lives in a remote area of Montana with his wife and two daughters.
James Jones And A Heroic Great, Great, Great, Great-grandfather, Lt. Col. Robert Cochran Of The Revolutionary War
From the American Revolutionary War to World War II, the famous and honorable Lt. Col. Robert Cochran was the great, great, great, great-grandfather of James Jones and also one of George Washington's finest officers. This grandfather is an interesting, important and colorful figure who was prominent in early Colonial and Revolutionary War conflicts.
Robert Cochran was of Scotch-Irish descent. He settled on lands in the New Hampshire Grants, which is an area of land that eventually became part of eastern New York and the state of Vermont. Early disputes over the ownership of this land among New York settlers was common. Cochran, along with Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, was condemned to death by the New York Assembly for leading early riots opposing the New York governot. However, as revolution against England loomed, it was necessary that they put aside their differences to win Colonial independence.
Jennet Cochran Haskin was a daughter and the only heir of Lt. Col. Robert Cochran of the 2nd New York Regiment, Continental Line. She married Asahel Haskin, a militiaman, in Vermont and "moved West" to Palestine, Ill., around 1817. They shortly left for Mt. Clemens, Mich., where Asahel and Jennet lived the remainder of their lives.
Their eldest son, Robert Cochran Haskin, a grandson of Lt. Col. Corhan, and his wife, Martha Elisabeth White, returned to Crawford County, Ill. They are buried in the Haskin family cemetery in Crawford County.
Their youngest daughter, Mary A. Haskin, married John Jones, a lawyer from Robinson, Ill., in 1885. The Jones children were James Allen, Jane, Emma, Addie and George W. Jones, who was well known in Crawford County as a successful businessman. He married twice and fathered Charles, Paul and Ramon Jones, who married Ada Blessing. The children of Ramon and Ada Jones included author James Jones, Jeff and Mary Ann.
As a captain following the French and Indian War, Robert Cochran went with Ethan Allen to the surrender of Ft. Ticonderoga in May 1775, and was also with the Remember Baker at Crown Point, N.Y. He served in numerous Mohawk valley campaigns, including the Battle of Saratoga. Encamped with 200 men at Ft. Edward, Cochran set blazing a large brush pile, creating the illusion of a large army. This fooled Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne, who furthered his retreat northward. Following Saratoga, France joined the Colonial effort, turning the war in the favor of the American Colonies.
George Washington's intelligence network was remarkable for its time. As recounted by Cochran's granddaughter, Gen. Washington sent Cochran to Canada. His espionage mission was suspected, and a large bounty was offered. He became seriously ill and hid in a brush heap, too ill to make an escape. A log cabin at considerable distance was the only dwelling in sight.
The tired colonel crept to this cabin on his hands and knees. Approaching the home, he heard three men in serious conversation, and he was the subject of their discourse. Seeing a man matching Cochran's description several days earlier in the vicinity, these three formed plans for the colonel's capture.
As the men departed in pursuit, Col. Cochran crept to the cabin and frankly told a woman who was inside that he had overheard the conversation and that he was the man for whom they were searching. Throwing himself upon her mercy, and because of his poor physical condition, he trusted to her kindness and fidelity for his protection. She administered some nourishment and restoratives, which seemed to give him some relief, and he rested on a bed in the room.
Three hours passed and the men returned. The woman concealed the colonel in a cupboard, careful to stand close by, next to the fireplace, so that if anything should be needed from the closet, she would be able to get it herself.
The men expressed with certainty that the colonel must be hiding somewhere near, and named the many places where they intended to look for him. All of this, of course, was overheard by Cochran. The men rested and then departed.
The woman knew that the colonel would no longer be safe hiding in this cabin and that he should not return to the brush pile, as her husband was planning to burn it in a few days. So she directed him to take refuge on a hill about half a mile away, where he might be able to flee if he saw anyone approaching. Cochran remained for some time in the forest, undiscovered by anyone except for this faithful Good Samaritan who poured forth the oil and the wine until his strength returned and he was able to return to his country and to his home.
Many years after the war, Col. Cochran was living at Ft. Ticonderoga. He accidentally came across this kind woman and "rewarded her handsomely for her fidelity" (according to The Campaign of Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne and the Expedition of Lt. Col. Barry St. Leger by William L. Stone, 1877). He died at the beginning of the War of 1812 and is buried in Ft. Edward, N.Y.
Today, the Cochran family Bible can be seen at the Bennington Museum Library in Bennington, Vt.
--Edward Allen Seidel