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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, November 03, 1912, Image 3

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The San Francisco Sunday Call
Wooster Taylor
WHERE is Old Paul, the Indian?
Artist, wit, "Man Friday" of old
guard Bohemians, what has be
come of you? For a quarter of
a century you have lighted the great
campflres that cast their glow on the
wealth of Woodland by the Russian
river. You have been, year after year,
the picturesque mascot of the Bo
hemian jinks.
Strangest civilized savage that ever
hobnobbed with genius, are you living
or dead? San Francisco's greatest
artists have been your friends and
your masters. You have tasted the
fruits of fame and the bitterness of
failure and servitude. The old picture
of a woman and the sparkling glass
Is painted across your life's canvas.
The oils have faded, the frame is
Does that mystic hunting ground, the
hereafter of your forgotten forefathers,
alone contain the secret of your fate?
Questions like these are on the lips
of certain well known San Francisco
artists and Bohemians who have
known Paul Mamugoina, the Indian,
since the days when he came strong
and clear eyed out of the north country
to learn the subtle art of "picture mak
ing" at the old Mark Hopkins institute.
To light the campflres in the Rus
sian River grove and stretch.upon their
frames the work of cartoonists' clever
hands, these simple and menial tasks
became to him as wine to his shattered
spirit. For 25 years he never missed
a Bohemian jinks. But this year, al
though the moonlit river was there
as usual, the same tall trunks and
sky above, Old Paul was missing.
He was as much a part of that gay
sylvan theater as the towering red
woods or fern under foot. Not so many
noticed him when he was there, save
as an accustomed figure in a familiar
scene. But this year, when he was
missing, men looked at one another
and said in puzzled tones:
"Where is Old Paul?"
Perhaps somewhere in this city,
where he lived, he has sunken beneath
the weight of his 60-odd years. He
no longer frequents the haunts where
men knew him. Inquiries and search
have been made in vain. There are
many who will smile skeptically at the
romance of Paul's earlier life, the story
of his genius that withered in the
fire of a woman's eyes, his wit and his
association with men who now have
their niche in the hall of fame.
Those who will smile knew him only
as Old Paul, a sort of pensioner and
hanger-on, who bowed gratefully at
the assignment, of any task that would
earn him an honest dollar.
But others there are who knew him
better and who today can lift the pro-
veil that shadowed his later years
and reveal the brighter fortunes of his
Among these is John R. Martin, who
has been assistant secretary of the San
Francisco Institute of Art since its
foundation by Mark Hopkins in 1871.
John A. Stanton, artist and instructor
at the school, is another whose mem
ories of Paul hark bark to "the city
that was" and are tinged with the in
imitable humor that linked the Indian
to treasured names and events of the
Aside from what John Martin, Stan
ton, and old schoolmates say of his
art, all must remember the undeniable
proof of It that hung before critical
eyes in the Bohemian club. Paul drew
a fine likeness in crayon of the noted
Jules' Tavernier, which held an honored
place among the club's works of art
until destruction came with the great
fire of 1906.
It seems that Paul's ambition burned
to ashes ■with his sketch. Men lost
track of him after the Are, save each
year when he appeared with unbroken
regularity at the Bohemian grove.
Now he has disappeared entirely. Bo
hemia recalls him by the photographs
that fill its albums and the cartoon "of
him still hanging upon the wall, a
cartoon done by the great Thadaeus,
whose "Recollections of a Court Paint
er" is Just now a much talked of book.
"Everybody likes Paul."
This was said about him on all sides'.
He had that indescribable charm of
manner, that "way with him" that
made friends quickly and held them
long. Few, if any, were the studios of
The Maker of Bohemia's Campfire and
Picturesque Habitue of the Studios—Once
A*-t*st, Wit. Gay Blade and Friend of
Famous Men—Ha§ Disappeared^
who became so later on, welcomed him
as they would a salt breeze that wafted
freshness from the ocean. He hung
his jaunty hat in the sacred dens ol
Jules Tavernier, Brookes. Tom Hill
Keith and Charley Robinson. He
watched Denny daub his pallet, hunted
ducks with Charley Rollo Peters, posed
for Anderson, fagged for Cadenassc
and cocked a critical eye at the easei
of Julian Rix. He helped John Stan
ton sail a yacht and Dan O'Onnell f<
cook his dinner.
Sometimes as a servant, sometimes
as a friend, it made little difference
which way he served. They liked him
for what he was, a court jester in the
realm of art.
Later, when the ravages of ultra
civilization sapped his Indian strength,
they assigned him to light tasks about
the studios for the sake of the memo
ries of better days.
Never would he pose in Indian dress,
although in his veins ran the full blood
of the Lake Michigan brave. "Picture
making" was the heritage of his peo
ple, the Objibways. It is written that
from them first came the primitive art
of quaint drawing and painting. The
great cliffs of the lake, known as the
Painted Rocks, taught to the cunning
Objibways the secret of simple color
Later the knowledge spread from
them to other tribes until few were
the wigwams that had not their pic
tured stories on the wall. The fact
that Paul Mamugoina was of the origi
nal "picture making" tribe is signifi
cant. Primitive as it was, the gift of
the artist was his from birth.
Childhood found him different from
his brothers. For hours he would sit
with a bit of charcoal sketching on
a fiat white stone or strip of buckskin
the shaded outlines of lake and for
est. Better still he loved to trace the
clean cut features of his tribe's peo
ple and in secret to evolve weird car
icatures of dignified braves* or unsus
pecting squaws %ending over their
The story of, how he came to Cali
fornia was never told. In some man
ner he was thrown among the whites
in a northern mining town while still
a mere lad. An old miner found the
boy sketching one day and took him
home to his cabin. He sent him tc
school, where Paul kept the teacher
in a continual state of hostility and
the few pupils in uproars of laughter
by chalking the old fashioned black
board with fantastic portraits of the
spectacled master.
But pursuit of his beloved art wai
ever uppermost In the young Indian's
mind. He longed to become a greal
artist. Rough miner that he was, his
guardian could not fail to appreciate
Paul's exceptional talent. Paul cam*
home one day after an altogether tot
interesting session with the school
"Take me to San Francisco," he said
"I am sick of school. I want to be s
famous painter."
The old miner put on his best boots
and gathered up his sacks of dust.
John Martin, who has Seen students
come and go in the art school on Not
hill for nearly half a century, recall!
well the Indian's arrival.
"It was somewhere in the earl>
eighties," said Martin. "The old miner
whose name I have forgotten, brought
him to us. Paul was a fine specimer
of young manhood then, of good phys
ique and strong as an ox. He was nol
tall and stately, as they picture Indians
on magazine covers, but of the bullc
described In these days as "husky.'
The miner paid his tuition for a yeai
and went back to the Sierras.
"Paul learned rapidly. In fact he
already possessed remarkable skill witl
the crayon. There was that in his
manner that made him from the verj
beginning a great favorite among stu
dents and artists, when the year hae
passed the miner in the north failed te
send him tuition for the next twelve
months. He was left on our hands."
Those were the days, however, of ole
San Francisco hospitality. Paul was
allowed am. eneouratfea m* ms
studies. Work was found for him
about the art school. Still anxious to
be a noted painter, he earned his daily
independence as a sort of artist Janitor,
sweeping up after school and lending
a deft hand wherever necessary.
Despite his embarrassing position his
• reputation as a wit and boon compan
ion won him entree into any circle
where good fellowship ruled.
"Why don't you dress in full India*
regalia, stick a feather in your he»'
and go down to the Palace hotel?" su®
gested one artist. "You could reap a
fortune by sitting quietly in the foyer
and sketching the notables, especially
the handsome women. They would buy
your pictures at your own price. - '
Paul's black eyes flashed and the lit
tle black mustache which always
adorned his taut upper lip fairly
"I am not a circus Indian," he
jjrowled, and strode out of the studio.
* There was Anderson, the great artist
from New York, who painted Mrs. Van
derbilt when she was Birdie Fair, and
portraits of a score of other social sov
ereigns on this and the eastern coast.
Anderson, be it remembered, was no
harum-scarum, wine, women and song
sort of painter. Lord bless us, nol Ha
was president of the Y. M. C. A. He
was also president of the American Art- <[
lsts' association of Paris, but that is not <J
half as signlAcant as the high office 4I
he held with the Young Men's Chris- 0
tion association. 0
He was painting a portrait of Gen- <l
eral Howard in full uniform when Paul "
the Indian came on the scene. Paul J
was hard up, as usual. ~
"Let me pose ff»r you," said Paul. , >
"His nibs* uniform will Just about fit <>
me. You needn't look at my faoe." "
Anderson surrendered. He needed a J[
.model of fine physique, and the Indian tt
filled the bill. For several sittings ~
Paul behaved admirably. He did noth- ><
Ing to harrow Anderson's angelic soul. <>
When the portrait reached the point "
o where the Y. M. C. A. president could °
not possibly get along without Paul \\
all the lad's native devilment broke 0
loose. He fairly disgraced the old gen- i
eral's splendid uniform, indulging In
language so picturesque that Ander
son's brightest colors were pale and
faded in comparison.
With the old war hero's best parade
hat set raklshly on the side of his
black head, he would strike a ridicu
lous attitude, stick his sword arm
haughtily aloft and address an imagi
nary army in words that turned the
studio air and Anderson's face purple.
"Hush. Paul, hush!" he would cry,
"and for goodness sake turn your head
away. Your barroom breath fairly
makes me dizzy."
Paul would laugh and proceed to
entertain the protesting painter with
the latest jest and song of the clubs.
It is little wonder that Anderson had
some difficulty In painting a perfect
portrait of General Howard under
these conditions, and especially when
he had to keep constantly In mind the
fact that the veteran fighter had but
one arm.
Artists still laugh at the criticism
made by General Barnes when An
derson showed him the Anished plc-
of Howard.
N "You've got that arm perfect," said
Barnes. "I like that best of all."
"Why, that's only an empty sleeve,"
exclaimed Anderson.
"Yes, that's what I mean, the arm
you haven't painted," laughed Barnes.
Artist's model was only one of
Paul's later vocations. He was yachts
man, cook, skilled mixer of drinks,
hunter's guide and all around sports
man. No deer slaying, Ashing or
yaohting expedition was complete
•without him.
On these Paul was always the cen
ter of some amusing or exciting inci
dent of the old days that artists who
have grown gray never fail to dwell
upon when In reminiscent mood.
There was a time when all Belve
dere was one man's island, but in those
days as favored as a haven for the
white winged craft as now. John
Stanton, the artist, Arthur McEwen
and Charley Peters used to take Paul
over to cook for them, navigate the
yacht and keep an eye on things in
general. Once they left Paul aboard
and rowed ashore In the dory. Va
rious events transpired which caused
a laughable hullabaloo at the time.
Among the eastern visitors at the Bohemian grove this year was
Witter Bynner, sometime editor of McClure's Magazine and one of the
most distinguished among the younger American poets. Bynner was
told about Paul, and the following bit of fugitive verse is the result 1
/ hear there was an Indian named Paul,
An aged Indian who every year.
Solemn as August, came to your festival
Among the redwoods. He would disappear
Eleven months, you say, and you recall
His silent services; how always near
The fire he brought new legs to raise the tall
Cray smoky ghost of a redwood. But this pear—
/ hear there was an Indian named Paul.
but which have no place In this story.
Sufficient to say that they forgot Paul
for the/ time being; and* did not re
member him again until they were
returning to the yacht three days
Stanton was in the bow. The first
thing he saw was Paul's black head
raised weakly above the yacht gun
"Ahoy, there!" came the Indian's voice
falterlngly across the water, t "What
have you got to eat?"
"Nothing," shouted back Stanton.
"Then don't come aboard," yelled
Paul. "I'm starved."
They found that he had been living
on hardtack and salad oil for two days.
Under a heavy fire of Indian wrath
the three retreated and did not return
until the dory was laden with the
wherewithal for a full and sumptuous
How Paul painted tha gifted Taver
nier's portrait and won a place for It
•in the critical Bohemian club, how
he came to be the official "keeper of
the Are" at the forest jinks, how he
found the two drowned lads In the
Russian river when all pthers had
failed, these are but a few of the clos
ing chapters odd life book.
His portrait of Tavernier, like many
a rare treasure •which can never be re
placed, became ashes in the great Are
of 1906. Paul seemed to go with it.
Once a year he would appear, mysteri
ously, weirdly, with almost uncanny
punctuality when preparations began
for the festivities In the river grove.
Each time he looked older, more care
worn, shabbier in dress and a little
more bent in stature.
But with the lighting of the firs the
old light would come back In his eyes,
the old muslo to his volos and the old
wit to his tongue.
"Old Paul, the same old Paul," they
would say and the smile that harked
back to the days when he came young
and straight out of the north country
would flit across his bronze features.
Where he went, what he did and how
he lived In the long 12 months between
each Jinks was a mystery. His <0 odd
years sat heavily upon him toward the
last. A phantom Indian he seemed,
coming back each year out of nowhere
to haunt the grove of revelry.
And then came this year, Bohemia's
laughter, Bohemia's song, the fires, the
play, the shimmering water, giant
trees, the green fern beneath and no
Where is he?
Ask the wind where are last au
tumn's leaves.

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