Stories from The Frost Place | The Found Packing Crate

Fleeing England before the start of World War I, Robert Frost and his family boarded the SS St. Paul in Liverpool to head back to the United States. On the night of February 13, 1915, the small passenger liner took its place in a convoy with the enormous SS Lusitania. The convoy was guarded by British destroyers combing the water with searchlights looking for mines and submarines. Frost and his family, with the other passengers, confined to their rooms, were fully dressed wearing kapok life jackets in case the ship was struck.

In 2013, during our annual spring cleanup at The Frost Place, a volunteer, Dee McKown, found something very special. She brought her find outside and very matter-of-factly put it on the ground for us to see. Dee’s find took everyone’s breath away.

An old board, which had been installed in The Frost Place as a sort of shelf-support likely by Frost and his family 90 or so years ago, had two aged squares of ink-stained card stock nailed to one side. The handwriting was pretty unmistakable. One card-stock square was washed away, but the other—with that handwriting—was clearly legible. It read:

For SS St. Paul.  Sailing February 13th.  American Line.  Liverpool.  Please forward with dispatch.

On the side of the aged wood was a wonderful hand-carved R Frost Plymouth NH, USA.

Frost biographer Jay Parini has suggested that this was the lid of a shipping crate that accompanied Robert Frost and his family back from England in 1915. Frost was known to have a wooden crate that was mainly filled with his notebooks, manuscripts, and books.

This is just one of the many special stories surrounding The Frost Place. Do you have one you would like to share? If so, email us at frost@frostplace.org.

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