Monthly Archives: December 2015

the Pocasset murder (1879)


‘The Pocasset Murder’

re the Pocasset murder – Falmouth Enterprise 5-22-1987

selected newspaper articles about the Pocasset murder – updated March 2021


NY Times 5-6-1879

NY Times 5-6-1879 (2)

Boston Globe 5-6-1880

Boston Globe 5-1-1883

Boston Globe 11-30-1883

Boston Globe 12-5-1883

Boston Globe 12-6-1883

NY Times 3-17-1887.


See attached, downloadable Word documents (above).

Plus, see text below (which includes a summary/abstract).




Five year old Edith Burgess Freeman (b. July 27, 1874) was murdered in 1879 by her father in their home on the town of Pocasset on Cape Cod in what has been described as a “ritual killing.”

In this article, I have attempted to uncover the facts about the case. It was well publicized at the time, but seems to have been largely forgotten.

See attached downloadable Word file (above).

I became interested in the case, which I had never heard of until recently, because some of my mother’s distant ancestors and their relatives were involved. The murderer was the son-in-law of my mother’s great-grandmother.  And, my mother’s great-grandmother defended the actions of the son-in-law, Charles F. Freeman (the murderer); and of her daughter Hattie (Ellis) Freeman (my maternal grandfather’s aunt), who initially supported her husband, a religious fanatic, believing that his actions were justified on religious grounds.


– Roger W. Smith

   August 2016; updated March 2021



Charles F. Freeman and his wife Harriet R. (Ellis) Freeman with granddaughter.

Harriet R. (Ellis) Freeman

The Freeman house in Pocasset

Branch Rickey, James W. Bashford, Whittredge connection


In 2004, I wrote two fairly long articles for Notable Sports Figures, published by Gale, a reference book publisher based in Michigan.

The reference work focused on, included, articles about sports figures who had an impact on society or culture larger than just sports. My two articles were on Branch Rickey and Leo (“The Lip”)” Durocher.

The article on Branch Rickey included the following paragraphs:

In March 1901, Rickey enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) in Delaware, Ohio, a Methodist school. He had not been expected to go to college and had to talk his father into letting him attend. Rickey played on the OWU football and baseball teams in his freshman year. To help pay school costs, he also played baseball during summer vacation for a local semipro team, earning $25 a game. When he returned to school, Rickey found to his surprise that playing for money had caused him to lose his athletic eligibility. The president of OWU, Dr. James W. Bashford, gave Rickey a way to get back his eligibility by suggesting that he sign a paper denying the charges that he had played for money, but Rickey said he could not do so and attest to something that was false.

In the spring of 1903, the OWU baseball coach resigned and Bashford, who had been impressed by Rickey’s honesty and character in the loss of eligibility incident, asked Rickey, who was in his sophomore year, to take over as the school’s baseball coach. During his first season, Rickey witnessed a couple of notable instances of overt racism against the only black player on the OWU team, first baseman Charles Thomas. These incidents made an “indelible” impression on him.

The incident with Charles Thomas, the black first baseman on the OWU team, is recounted in biographies of Branch Rickey and in Paul Aron’s book, Did Babe Ruth Call His Shot? and Other Unsolved Mysteries of Baseball.

The first paragraph above of mine mentions James W. Bashford, president of Ohio Wesleyan University. Branch Rickey was, throughout his life, a devout Methodist.

It is an established fact that the family of our mother, Elinor Handy Smith (1918-1973), in Danvers, Mass. were Congregationalists. The roots of our father, Alan W. Smith’s 1917-1989), religious ancestry were Methodist.

On November 11, 1877, James Flint Whittredge, salesman, and Camelia Anna Moulton were married at the Harrison Square Methodist Episcopal Church on Parkman Street in Boston by Rev. James W. Bashford, the one and same person who became the president of Ohio Wesleyan University and who is mentioned above in connection with Branch Rickey’s student days there.

James F. Whittredge (1856-1938) and Camelia Moulton Whittredge (18580-1920) were the parents of Esther Whittredge Smith (1886-1970), the mother of our father Alan W. Smith. James F. Whittredge, was, therefore, the grandfather, on our paternal grandmother’s side, of our father, Alan W. Smith.


— Roger W. Smith

   December 2015

Sherwood Anderson, “Lift up thine eyes”


Sherwood Anderson’s powerful “Life up thine eyes” is posted at

Sherwood Anderson – Lift Up Thine Eyes

The following is commentary by an anonymous writer on the site.


Reprint of a 1930 article by American author Sherwood Anderson published in Agitator, laying bare the essential nature of exploiting society: the subordination of human beings to an alien will in the production process.

The following article, written in 1930 by American author Sherwood Anderson lays bare the essential nature of exploiting society – the utter subordination of human beings to an alien will in the process of production.

Political ‘sophisticates’ will no doubt argue the superior merits of ‘planned production’ and ‘state control’ as opposed to the ‘anarchy’ of competitive capitalism. For such people Socialism has been drained of all human content and hence of all meaning. They are obsessed with the legal forms of property, as if these were the fundamental reality and not the social relations between men at the point of production.

What Anderson describes here are the relations of production prevailing in a class divided society. He bases his story on an American plant; but who can doubt that similar relations exist in the nationalised British coal mines or in the tractor factories of Stalingrad.

Anderson’s article points implicitly to the primary and most urgent task confronting the socialist revolution: the domination of the producer over the labour process, and the end to the degrading division between rulers and ruled.



Lift up thine eyes

by Sherwood Anderson


It is a big assembly plant in a city of the Northwest, They assemble there the Bogel car. It is a car that sells in large numbers and at a low price. The parts are made in one great central plant and shipped to the places where they are to be assembled. There is little or no manufacturing done in the assembling plant itself. The parts come in. These great companies have learned to use the railroad cars for storage.

At the central plant everything is done to schedule. As soon as they parts are made they go into the railroad cars. They are on their way to the assembling plants scattered all over the United States and they arrive on schedule.

The assembly plant assembles cars for a certain territory. A careful survey has been made. The territory can afford to buy so-and-so many cars per day. .

‘But suppose the people don’t want cars ?’
‘What has that to do with it ?’

People, American people, no longer buy cars. They do not buy newspapers, books, foods, pictures, clothes. Things are sold to people now. If a territory can take so-and-so many Bogel cars, find men who can make them take the cars. That is the way things are done now.

In the assembly plant everyone works ‘on the belt’. This is a big steel conveyor, a kind of moving sidewalk, waist-high. It is a great river running down through the plant. Various tributary streams come into the main streams the main belt. They bring tyres, they bring headlights, horns, bumpers for cars. They flow into the main stream. The main stream has its source at the freight cars where the parts are unloaded, aid it flows to the other end of the factory and into other freight cars. The finished automobiles go into the freight cars at the delivery end of the bolt. The assembly plant is a place of peculiar tension. You feel it when you go in. It never lets up. Men here work always on tension. There is no let-up to the tension. If you can’t stand it, get out.

It is the belt. The belt is boss. It moves always forward. Now the chassis goes on the belt. A hoist lifts it up and places it just so. There is a man at each corner. The chassis is deposited on the belt and it begins to move. Not too rapid. There are things to be done.
How nicely everything is calculated. Scientific men have done this. They have watched men at work. They have stood looking, watch in hand. There is care taken about everything. Look up. Lift up thine eyes. Hoists are bringing engines, bodies, wheels, fenders. These come out of side streams flowing into the main streams. They move at a pace very nicely calculated. They will arrive at the main stream at just a certain place at just a certain time.

In this shop there is no question of wages to be wrangled about. These men work but eight hours a day and are well paid. They are, almost without exception, young, strong men. It is however, possible that eight hours a day in this place may be much longer than twelve or even sixteen hours in the old carelessly run plants.

They can get better pay here than at any other shop in town. Although I am a man wanting a good many minor comforts in life, I could live well enough on the wages made by the worker in this place. Sixty cents an hour to begin and then, after a probationary period of sixty days, if I can stand the place, seventy cents or more.

To stand the pace is the real test. Special skill is not required. It is perfectly timed, perfectly calculated. If you are a body upholsterer so many tacks driven per second. Not too many. If a man hurries too much too many tacks drop on the floor. If a man gets too hurried he is not efficient. Let an expert take a month, tow months to find out just how many tacks the average good man can drive per second.

There must be a certain standard maintained in the finished product. Remember that. It must pass inspection after inspection.

Do not crowd too hard. Crowd all you can. Keep crowding.

There are fifteen, twenty, thirty, perhaps fifty such assembly plants, all over the country, each serving its own section Wires pass back and forth daily. The central office – from which all the parts come at Jointville – is the nerve centre. Wires come in and go out to Jointville. In so-and-so many hours WIlliamsberg, with so-and-so many men, produced so-and-so cars.

Now Burkesville is ahead. It stays ahead. What is up at Burkesville? An expert flies there.
The man at Burkesville was a major in the army. He is the manager there. He is a cold, rather severe, rather formal man. He has found out something. He is a real Bogel man, an ideal Bogel man. There is no foolishness about him. He watches the belt. He does not say to himself ‘I am the boss here’. He knows the belt its boss.

He says there is a lot of foolishness talked about the belt. The experts are too expert, he says. He has found out that the belt can be made to move just a little faster than the experts say. He has tried it. He knows. Go and look for yourself. There are the men out there on the belt, swarming along the belt, each in his place. They are alright, aren’t they ? Can you see anything wrong ?

Just a trifle more speed in each man. Shove the pace up just a little, not much. With the same number of men, in the same number of hours, six more cars a day.
That’s the way a major gets to be a colonel, a colonel a general. Watch that fellow at Burkesville, the man with the military stride, the cold steady voice. He’ll go far.

* * *

Everything is nicely, perfectly calculated in all the Bogel assembling plants. There are white marks on the floor everywhere. Everything is immaculately clean. No-one smokes; no one chews tobacco; no-one spits. There are white bands on the cement floor along which the men walk. As they work, sweepers follow them. Tacks dropped on the floor are at once swept up. You can tell by the sweepings in a plant where there is too much waste, too much carelessness. Sweep everything carefully and frequently. Weight the sweepings. Have an expert examine the sweepings. Report to Jointville.

Jointville says: ‘Too many upholsterers’ tacks wasted in the plant at Port Smith. Bellevile produced one hundred and eleven cars a day, with seven hundred and forty-nine men, wasting only nine hundred and six tacks.’

It is a good thing to go through the plant occasionally, pick out some man, working apparently just as the others are, fire him.

If he asks why, just say to him, ‘You know’.
He’ll know why alright. He’ll imagine why.

The thing is to build up Jointville. This country needs a religion.

You have to build up the xxxxx of a mysterious central thing, a thing working outside your knowledge.

Let the notion grow and grow that there is something superhuman at the core of all this.
Lift up thine eyes, lift up thine eyes.

The central office reaches down into your secret thoughts. It knows, it knows
Jointville knows.

* * *

Do not ask questions of Jointville. Keep up the pace.

Get the cars out.
Get the cars out.
Get the cars out.

The pace can be accelerated a little this year. The men have all got tuned into the old pace now.

Step it up a little, just a little.

* * *

This have got a special policeman in the Bogel assembling plants, They have got a special doctor there A man hurt his finger a little. IT bleeds a little, a mere scratch. The doctor reaches down for him. The finger is fixed. Jointville wants no blood poisonings, no infections.

The doctor puts men who want jobs through physical examination, as in the army. Try his nerve reactions. We want only the best men here, the youngest, the fastest.

Why not?

We pay the best wages, don’t we ?

The policeman in the plant has a special job. That’s queer. It is like this: Now and then the big boss passes through. He selects a man off the belt.

‘You’re fired.’
‘Why ?’
‘You know.’’

Now and then a man goes off his nut. He goes fantoed. He howls and shouts. He grabs a hammer. A stream of crazy profanity comes from his lips.

There is Jointville. That is the central thing. That controls the belt. The belt controls me.
It moves. It moves. It moves.

I’ve tried to keep up . I tell you I’ve been keeping up.

Jointville is God. Jointville controls the belt. The belt is God.
God has rejected me.

‘You’re fired.’

Sometimes a man, fired like that, goes nutty. He gets dangerous.

A strong policeman on hand knocks him down. Takes him out.

* * *

You walk within certain definite white lines.

It is calculated that a man, rubbing down automobile bodies with pumice, makes thirty thousand and twenty-one arm strokes per day. The difference between thirty thousand and twenty-one, and twenty-eight thousand and four will tell a vital story of profits or loss at Jointville.

Do you think things are settled at Jointville, or at the assembling plants of the Bogel car scattered all over America ? Do you think men know how fast the belt can be made to move, what the ultimate, the final pace will be, can be ?

Certainly not.

There are experts studying the nerves of men, the movements of men. They are watching. Calculations are always going on. The thing is to produce good and more goods at less cost. Keep the standard up. Increase the pace a little.

Stop waste. Calculate everything.

* * *

A man walking to and from his work between white lines saves steps. There is a tremendous science of lost motion, not perfectly calculated yet.

More goods at less cost.

Increase the pace.

Keep up the standards.

It is so you advance civilisation.

Roger Smith, “Learning How to Write”


During the summer of 1962, between my sophomore and junior years at Canton High School in Canton, Massachusetts, a summer school course was offered taught by my older brother’s English teacher, Robert W. Tighe.

I had had practically no writing instruction during my first two years of high school. I was interested in writing and motivated to become a better writer. So I decided to take the course, although my grades in the first two years in English had been straight A’s and the summer course was not required.

But, prior to taking the course, I did self-instruction. I bought a paperback book, Shefter’s Guide to Better Compositions by Harry Shefter, and studied it intently. This, along with the course that followed, was a decisive juncture in my development as a writer.

Shefter stressed the importance of having an effective opening to your composition. He counseled and explained how to write an effective lead paragraph, like a journalist would do. Once you had an effective lead, you would state your thesis and develop and expand upon your ideas from there.

In my first composition for Mr. Tighe’s summer course, I began by describing a recent game that took place on June 18, 1961 at Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators — I saw it on television– in which the Red Sox, in the first game of a doubleheader, scored eight runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win 13-12. They won it on a grand slam home run by catcher Jim Paglioroni.

I ended the opening paragraph of my composition with the words “the ball nested in the nets.” Mr. Tighe liked this and commented to the class on what a felicitous phrase it was. (There were only three students in the class, including me. The other two boys were taking the class as a requirement, because they had failed English.) I followed by saying something like, “that’s why baseball is my favorite sport.”

I was off to a good start with Mr. Tighe. He said, in his sardonic fashion, rubbing his forehead and pushing back his glasses, “I hate to have to admit it, but you’re good.”

I did an awful lot of writing in the next few weeks, and got very close attention to my papers. I put a lot of effort into them.

My last paper was entitled “The Folly of Frugality.” We had been given the assignment of reading a writer, in my case Vance Packard, and trying to emulate his style. I began the paper with my lead (à la Harry Shefter) describing an incident where my best friend’s mother, when I was in the sixth grade, would not let him go on an outing to a neighboring town the two of us had planned because she thought it might be unsafe. Mr. Tighe asked me whether I had made the story up. I told him that the story was an actual one.

The course was invaluable to me, and I did not at all mind the hard work.

Mr. Tighe had been an inspiring teacher and crucial mentor of my older brother. I had him for English in my junior and senior years. I worked very hard in his class and paid close attention to anything and everything he had to say about writing. I could never figure why he gave me a C+ for the first marking period in my junior year. I think he was trying to take me down a peg, to send me a message. (But, I was not by any measure conceited.) Also, I heard years later that it was his policy to give practically everyone a low grade the first time they had him for a teacher.



The Three Basic Elements of Good Writing

Mr. Tighe said that there were three elements to good writing: unity, coherence, and emphasis.

The first, UNITY, means that you must stick to the point, be it in your thesis statement (at the opening of a composition) or in a topic sentence.

One of our first assignments was a standard one for beginning writing students: describe something. I wrote a paper describing my bedroom. The emphasis and details were meant to convey what a snug, cozy place my bedroom was — how I liked to be there reading or studying, for example.

When I had nearly finished, I inserted an additional sentence in which I referred to the room’s “long windowless walls.” Mr. Tighe, in grading the paper, underlined this sentence and gave me a low grade. The sentence had conveyed the impression of a dreary place, at variance with the impression created by the other descriptive details. I had violated the principle of UNITY.

The second element of good writing was COHERENCE. Mr. Tighe explained that this was sort of like glue. You had to tie all your paragraphs and sentences together by using transitional words that guide the reader: on the other hand, in contrast, furthermore, however, and so on. I got the idea quickly and was soon larding my essays with such words. It became a little heavy handed. When I became a more experienced writer, I learned that you can achieve this in more subtle ways. But, I have never forgotten or neglected the importance of coherence.

The third element of good writing, EMPHASIS, is the hardest one to achieve; to perceive the presence or lack thereof in a piece of writing; or to explain. It is akin to what a composer strives to achieve in music. A myriad of thoughts, observations, or details in a piece of writing without the proper emphasis can leave the reader disoriented and confused.

Emphasis is achieved by placing weight or stress on certain key points or sections in the essay and on the conclusion. The skillful writer can achieve this sometimes without being obvious. A key point might be made to emerge where one wouldn’t expect it.

Ground Rules

Mr. Tighe taught us to make an OUTLINE before writing. As I grew older and became a more experienced writer, I found that I didn’t have to do this anymore. But, it helped me a lot in school. Even when I had an essay exam, I would jot down a quick outline before starting to draft an answer. I did this on college essay exams, and it helped me get good grades even when I was not that well prepared.

Once I wrote a paper for Mr. Tighe in which I began by making an outline, as usual. Then, at the last minute before beginning to write, I decided to use the outline, but in a totally different order. Mr. Tighe gave me a poor grade and commented that there was a major problem with organization.

I learned a lot about GRAMMAR and STYLE from Mr. Tighe — what you might “Strunk and White precepts” — including precepts about writing that stuck in my mind. For example, when to strike out words. He told us to avoid cumbersome phrases like “the fact that.”

He was strict in grading and it was said he would lower a grade due to a couple of spelling errors, but I didn’t see him do this.

My older brother got at least one A+ from Mr. Tighe on a paper. It was said to be very hard to do. I recall how proud he and my parents were on that occasion. Late in my senior year, I finally got an A+ from Mr. Tighe for a paper on the Romantic poets. (I criticized them. Mr. Tighe did not particularly like the Romantic poets.)

Writing on Demand

In my senior year, we had Mr. Tighe for first period. Often, he would have us start off by writing. It was very difficult to do that — especially, it seemed, at that hour.

He would usually start off by quoting from some piece of writing, an excerpt from The New Yorker or the Atlantic Monthly, for example. Then he would say, with what seemed to be fiendish glee, “say something clever and witty about that.”

The next day, he would have prepared for the class a rexograph sheet containing excerpts — which he had typed up from our handwritten work — from four of the pieces submitted on the previous day. Then he and we the class would discuss and critique the writing samples. It was invaluable instruction in writing — trained me to critique my own work.

I learned to write on demand, which served me very well in college on essay exams (as noted above) and in writing last minute papers, which — due to severe case of procrastination which I suffered from — I usually had to resort to.

Senior Research Paper

In our senior English class, the term paper at the end of the year was a big deal. Mr. Tighe taught us how to do research and keep track of our sources using index cards. My paper was on J. D. Salinger. I did research in the Boston Public Library. But, being a procrastinator of the worst sort (as noted above), I had to stay up all night the night before the paper was due and barely got it written and typed. I wrote the paper in one draft on my older brother’s typewriter without revision.

I recall that I got a B+. The title of my paper was “Salinger and Utilitarianism.”

From the research paper assignment, one learned how to write a college paper with footnotes. It was the first time I had ever done research, and I enjoyed it. The only Salinger book I read for the assignment was The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger’s Franny and Zoey had been published by then, but I did not read it for purposes of the assignment. (I did read it later and didn’t particularly like or understand it.) I included some criticism on Salinger, which I had read as part of my research, in the paper. I really enjoyed doing research in the Boston Public Library, reading early published fiction by Salinger that most people didn’t know of.


— Roger W. Smith

  December 2015

Roger W. Smith, comments on the criminal justice system


It seems that life is this way: some people are get screwed for no reason, while others lead charmed lives.

The government usually goes after the small fries. They will find something to nail some poor luckless person on, some offense the person supposedly committed that did no damage and caused no harm to anyone.

This makes law enforcement and prosecutors happy. They think it proves they are doing their job, getting arrests and convictions — it’s a resume builder for them.

It’s all bullshit and a total waste of time, does nothing to protect people or improve society.

Meanwhile, the people prosecuted and incarcerated have to suffer horrible deprivations for no reason, just because they were unlucky enough or stupid enough to get caught.

— Roger W. Smith, email to a friend, December 1, 2015 (commenting on the case of a businessman caught in supposed criminal activity; he was given a harsh sentence that is in effect a life sentence; he languishing in jail and is dying of cancer)




This story has upset me.

They have to have their pound of flesh.

The sentence is cruel.

I absolutely hate the “criminal justice” system:




They make people suffer for no reason.

All so they can have cushy, high paying jobs and feel like they are “projecting” us and society.

The only people I can see an unquestionable need for locking up are serial killers and violent sexual predators.

— Roger W. Smith, email to the same friend, May 5, 2016, upon learning of the sentencing of ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (New York Times, May 3, 2016)



They get off on making people suffer.

Maybe he [Sheldon Silver] was a crooked guy.

I don’t care.

His marriage is apparently finished.

He is 72 and they are giving him a 12 year sentence.

Plus a fine of over a million dollars.

There’s no need or reason for such punishment.

Supposedly, he has done things that caused harm. To whom? Are you or I any worse off because of him?

— follow up email, May 6, 2016

Juan Ramón Jiménez – books in my library


All of these books are in my personal library with the exception of the eight translations of Platero y yo (Platero and I) into languages other than English. These eight books (i.e., translations) are displayed in the Casa Museo Zenobia-Juan Ramón Jiménez in Moguer, Spain, Jiménez’s home town.


— Roger W. Smith

   July 2018


'Romances of Coral Gables'



Juan Ramón Jiménez reading his poetry (in Spanish)


Posted here; a recording of Juan Ramón Jiménez reading his poetry (in Spanish)

a rare LP which I purchased in the 1970s


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   December 2015