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Robert Frost According to Joe Frost




Life with Robert  

Young Joe sometimes chauffeured his elder cousin to speaking engagements, or stopped by for a visit. One time Robert Frost gave a reading at Bowdoin College in Maine and invited Joe to attend the standing-room only talk. The moment he rose to speak, Joe recalled, “you could hear a ticking watch.” Afterwards the poet wanted to mingle with Bowdoin students, so he sent Joe off to dinner with the president of the college, promising to join them momentarily. He finally arrived for dinner at 1 a.m.   

Robert worked late and rose late. He was “not always delightful to live with,” Joe admitted, especially for a young college student. After one late night conversation with Robert and poet Louis Untermeyer in Cambridge, Joe says, he slept through three classes the next morning.   

“If I lived next door to Robert Frost, I’d want a good stone wall between us,” Joe joked, referring to “Mending Walls,” the poet’s often-quoted and often-misunderstood verse.  

Joe was a young boy when he first met Robert in the late 1920s. Robert and his wife Elinor trudged through the snow in March during a visit to the Frost ancestral home in Eliot, the “garrison” Joe called it. The couple was almost frozen when they arrived, he recalls, and had to put their feet in the oven in the kitchen to warm up.

 “From then on I knew Robert right up until the time of his death,” Joe said. “From time to time, I lived with him in various places. In fact, when I went to college in Boston, he wanted me to live with him in Cambridge, because he felt that Boston would probably corrupt me – and I hoped to hell it would.”  


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