Meet­ing Miss Bucks in Bucks

Easy Does It

The Advance of Bucks County - - WORD ON THE STREET - Ge­orge Robin­son

What is there about Hal­loween that would re­mind me of meet­ing a Pulitzer Prize-win­ning au­thor in the back­yard of her Hill­town Town­ship home?

I was still in col­lege when the wed­ding in­vi­ta­tion ar­rived. The re­cep­tion would be held on the lawn of Green Hills Farm, the home of Pearl S. Buck, best known for her novel “The Good Earth.” My cousin was mar­ry­ing into the Buck fam­ily.

Now the 68-acre Green Hills Farm is a Bucks County na­tional his­toric land­mark.

The house where Buck lived and wrote so pro­lif­i­cally so many years ago is the spooky site this Sun­day, Oct. 28, of can­dle­light tours and the telling of many of her sto­ries. Hayrides, re­fresh­ments and tours are also on the agenda for all the lit­tle ghosts and goblins.

Some of the tales to be told, many from Miss Buck’s writ­ings, in­clude the le­gends of Devil Harry, the nosy colo­nial ser­vant; Mrs. Loris, the mys­te­ri­ous house­keeper; Mag­dalena, the de­serted fi­ancé, and other goose-bump pro­duc­ing tales set­ting the at­mos­phere for a good old fash­ioned Hal­loween.

The nightly sched­ule also in­cludes a visit to Pearl Buck’s grave and a can­dle­light tour of the first floor of her house.

I was a jour­nal­ism stu­dent who be­cause of a wed­ding was be­ing given the op­por­tu­nity to meet, shake hands, and talk with the pro­lific nov­el­ist. How lucky was that? It was some­thing I looked for­ward to. I re­mem­ber wish­ing I had some sam­ples of my writ­ing that I could show her.

But my sto­ries in the Rider News long be­fore Rider Col­lege be­came a univer­sity and moved from its Tren­ton con­crete cam­pus to the green lawns and quiet path­ways of Lawrenceville hardly reached the qual­ity good enough for the eyes of Pearl Buck.

It was the house that I first no­ticed as my dad pulled the car into the drive­way and was guided to a park­ing area in a nearby pas­ture. Her field­stone home, shaded by large old trees, rose ma­jes­ti­cally not too far from the coun­try road. Al­though I haven’t been there in decades, I as­sume the rolling hills and shady time­less pas­tures of Bucks County haven’t changed that much de­spite the pas­sage of time and the death of Miss Buck in 1973 at the age of 81.

My first glimpse of our host­ess as I walked from the car to­ward the house was of Buck sit­ting on a child’s wooden swing seat sus­pended by two thick ropes ris­ing to a gnarled limb of a large knotty oak tree. For the wed­ding re­cep­tion, she wore a col­or­ful flow­ing spring flow­ered gown and a wide-brimmed hat that soft­ened the sun’s rays fil­ter­ing through the branches.

My mother’s sis­ter, mother of the groom, in­tro­duced me and my par­ents to the au­thor. Buck shook my hand. She seemed gen­uinely in­ter­ested when I told her I was a jour­nal­ism and English ma­jor in col­lege, and had “writ­ten some things” for the school news­pa­per.

“I would be de­lighted to see some of your work,” she said warmly. “You should have brought some­thing with you.” I thanked her for her in­ter­est and promised I would at a later date, but I knew my op­por­tu­nity had passed. An­other meet­ing was not to be.

We con­tin­ued to talk about writ­ing, and she seemed gen­uinely in­ter­ested in the cour­ses I was tak­ing at Rider. The thoughts were bounc­ing around in my head. I re­ally did know a lot about her. I had, af­ter all, done the re­search just in case we had the op­por­tu­nity to con­verse af­ter the in­tro­duc­tions.

I al­ready sat through a class on how to in­ter­view some­one, but thoughts have a way of flee­ing, and there were many other guests and of course, the bride and groom.

Buck grew up in China where her par­ents were mis­sion­ar­ies. Ed­u­cated at Ran­dolphMa­son Woman’s Col­lege in Lynch­burg, VA, she re­turned to China af­ter grad­u­a­tion and lived there un­til 1934 ex­cept for a year at Cor­nell Univer­sity in Ithaca, NY, where she earned an MA de­gree in 1928.

She be­gan to write in the 1920s, and in 1930 pub­lished her first novel, “East Wind, West Wind.” Only a year later came “The Good Earth,” win­ning the Pulitzer Prize for lit­er­a­ture and form­ing her tril­ogy about the Wang fam­ily.


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