Saturday, March 14, 2009

You're Not Nobody If Mark Twain Was Your Best Man

Frank Millet. You've never heard of him.

He's my dead neighbor, over in Mattapoisett. They thought enough of him to bronze him up and nail him on, but he's kind of obscure, I guess.

Who's obscure? We all are, really. Quick, who was FDR's second vice president? Never mind who was the Secretary of War under James Knox Polk. America added the entire southwest to the US map after a war he directed. Kind of an important guy. It'll take you a couple of minutes, even with Google helping you, to get his name.

So we all scratch our name, one way or another, on the cave wall of life, and puff out our chest if we manage to get more prominent than Hulk Hogan's daughter. We rage against death and time.

Frank Millet has canvasses you'd walk right by hanging in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston:

You could find something interesting by him in Detroit:

Reading the Story of Oenone. I suppose I could be a wise guy and say, quick, who the hell was Oenone? But we're down this rabbit hole far enough already. Any Oenonephiles out there? Didn't think so. She was Paris of Troy's first wife. Kind of a big deal.

Potentates pinned medals on his chest. John Singer Sargent was his friend, and used Millet's daughter as a model. He was published in all sorts of prominent publications. I've stood under his murals in the Trinity Church in Copley Square in Boston and never knew they were his.

So we bump along and try to make our mark, or don't try and do it anyway. If you're of a metaphysical mind, you know even the ones born without breath in them matter somehow. When Mark Twain is the best man at your wedding, you're someone, I guess.

It's said that the last memory of the man is of him handing children into the lifeboats on the Titanic.

Oh, no, Mr. Millet, you're not nobody.


Golden West said...

Thanks for sharing a bit about this man.

Pat said...

Ironic. I just finished a unit on the Titanic with my 10th graders and his name came up in Hanson Baldwin's essay that we read.

Thanks for "the rest of the story!"

Glynn said...

Of all the things one might be remembered for, "handing children into lifeboats aboard the Titanic" has to be at the top.

teresa said...

Mr. Millett came from a time when men were still well acquainted with the Birkenhead Drill.

Lovely vignette, thank you.

teresa said...

Oh dear, Millet - not Millett.

Eric said...

There's lots of guys like that.

Pogo said...

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
by Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring B[l]og!

SippicanCottage said...

C'est drole.