Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Reverance for Barns

After seeing many of my favorite barns in the county destroyed by the December storm, I went through my book collection to look for a book I once had, but must have given away when I moved out here. The book was called, A Reverence for Barns. I believe it was partially the work of Fredrick Franck. I can’t find it on Amazon or even a mention of it on Alibris. It must have been a limited local pressing.

Though I’ll probably never see that book again, my search did bring me to the memory of Fredrick Franck. Franck was by trade a dental surgeon who worked with Albert Schweitzer in Africa, though he was best known for his writing and art work. He wrote several books on Zen and spirituality. His art mostly consisted of his drawings and his folksy sculptures.

I first met Fredrick when I was taken to his compound, which he named "Pacem in Terris." I was taken there by a girlfriend at the time, who is now married to a friend who frequents this blog (Geeze, I was 23 years old back then). Franck lived in Warwick, New York in an old house on the banks of the Warwick River. Next to his house was his studio and library.

Across the river from his house was an old stone grist mill that he turned into a theater with a roof that resembled a dove in flight. It had a large heavy wooden door that pivoted to open. The water way was still partially there inside the building. It was cool being inside a building that had a river entering it.
Up near the ceiling on one end was, as I recall a round colored glass window that looked like an eye with the GK Chesterton quote, “The eye with which God I see is the same eye with which God sees me.”

Fredrick hosted classical music concerts every Sunday afternoon. After the concert he would invite the audience over to his sculpture garden across the road for glass of wine.

Looking at him you could tell he was a spiritual man. He was a ghostly pale man with white hair and beard and he dressed in black. He was kind and open and quiet. He looked like a million other older men, but somehow he stood out. Oddly, for someone who wrote so many books on spirituality, he wasn't very preachy. He would speak with passion about his compound, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) and his art.

Fredrick Franck died of heart failure at the age of 97 on June 5, 2006.


Anonymous Moosehead said...

Who was it that said religion is for people who don't want to go to hell and spirituality is for people who have already been there...

Hey...something weird going on when I open the comments window. The bottom left hand side of the window says I am connecting to google anal. That you Guy?

6:33 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Ha Ha, welcome back M-Head! Or is it still politically correct at this time of the year to refer to you as Pere Noel ?

Guy - I love barns. Old ones especially when they are stuck out in the middle of some wheatfield in BFE. I always like to daydream about what it was like when it was new and operational. Also, they are pieces of art, not matter what condition they are in.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Warwick Thom said...


I believe the book you're remembering is titled "A Reverence for Wood" by Eric Sloan. The same girlfriend who brought you to "Pacem in Terris" probably took you to Sugar Loaf in Chester, New York and to a restaurant called The Barnsider. The owner of that establishment was keenly interested in old barns and also may have been a friend of Eric Sloan. Several large paintings by Mr. Sloan were displayed in the restaurant.

The body of water that flows past "Pacem in Terris" is called Waywayanda Creek. We're fortunate here in Warwick that several of Frederick Franck's sculptures grace the public landscape.

That girlfriend, by the way, remembers you teaching her how to change the oil in her car. :-)

5:17 PM  
Blogger nootka said...

Aw, I know that barn..or knew it.
We have watched a few old ones lose to the elements over the decades, here.
One (rumored to be the largest in the county at one time), is over in Warrenton. Used to keep my Arabian suffered some damage, but still stands.
I fear not for long.

I noticed in your profile that you love Liquid Sky. My best friend and I went to see that a few times at the Clinton St. theatre in Portland, and rented it/bought it eventually. Hahhaa loved the concept!

"So you're dead now..."

Thanks for the flashback and reverie.

9:46 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Yep, Moosehead, that's me alright.

Auntie, we've lost quite a few out this way. I haven't even driven past Burkhart's yet.

Thom, thanks. I don't know why I thought Franck wrote that book, and I believe that the wood book was his second book. Yes, Deb was an excellent guide while I was in my early 20s. Did she mention the importance of making sure the oil filter gasket was in place? We had many memorable times. Please send her my love.

Nootka, is that right behind J&S? I was driving there recently and saw this hulk of a barn back in the distance I had never seen before. Arabian, eh? I love them, but they are usually too small for me so I usually go with Appendix Quarter Horses. My wife has had four of them, but now has a Missouri Fox Trotter. As for Liquid Sky, all I can say is, "Delicious, delicious...and now I kill with my..."

5:50 AM  
Blogger matt_stansberry said...

Reading a book right now, "The World Without Us" and it talks about how long it would take a barn to disintigrate w/ an 18-inch hole in the roof. Surprisingly -- not long.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous nootka said...

yes, that barn is exactly behind J&S! it is tremendous and used to have several families of barn owls inside.
Yes, Sheeba was pretty tiny. Now I have Miniatures. Go figure (I do NOT ride them, though!).
Hahhaa loved your quote.
I can't quit thinking about (was her name Adrian) the "Me and My Rhythm Box" number, now.


7:57 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

True, Matt and worse yet if any, and I mean any portion of the foundation has a problem.

Nootka, One of my neighbors has minis. There is even a photo of one of them on this blog from back last summer. Do yours do any harness work?

5:43 AM  

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