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Edith Storer Rhoades and Winfred Rhoades

The Self You Have to Live With by Wifred Rhoades
"The Self You Have to Live With"

It appears that Robert Strong Woodward was friends with Edith Storer and only became acquainted with her husband, author Winfred Rhoades, after their marriage. According to the painting diary, prior to 1934. the painting Autumn Flame was "bought by Miss Edith Storer of Waltham, now Mrs. Rhoades of Lane's End, Sudbury, Mass." Later entries, such as Summer Peace have the comment "Bought in September 1945 by Mrs. Winfred Rhoades (Edith Storer) and hung perfectly in her rare old house (built in 1724) at Chestnut Hill, Mass, 521 Hammond Street, a rare example of perfect placement."

The Self You Have To Live With by Wifred Rhoades'
"The Self You Have To Live With"
Winfred Chesney Rhoades was an author, philosopher, psychologist and poet. He was born in Middelbury Connecticut in 1872, graduated from Columbia University and the then Hartford Theological Seminary in 1897. He was the pastor of the Eliot Congregational Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts from 1900 to 1917. He had some sort of sickness after that which caused him to be an invalid for 15 years. In that time period he worked intermittently as a chaplain for the Clifton Springs Sanitarium. He was a pioneer of the modern "self-help" book craze writing a number of books in the mental health area in the 1930s through the 1950s. He is most recognized for his work "The Self You Have To Live WIth" which is one of the books recommended by Alcoholics Anonymous. Later in his career, he also penned two books of poetry dedicated to his wife Edith Storer Rhoades. The first book, "Tributes," included a poem about the Robert Strong Woodward painting All Eternity.

All Eternity by Robert Strong Woodward
All Eternity by Robert Strong Woodward
Poem about the Robert Strong Woodward painting 'All Eternity' by Winfred Rhoades.  A hilltop beechen tree blown all awry; Outcroppings of stern rock of leaden hue; In hazy distance folds of hills' soft blue; And all eternity beyond the sky:  But he whose art this glory to us gave - With tortured frame and hampered life he goes, Nor ever cries, 'Have done! Spare now these throes!' But ever holds his spirit strong and brave.  You too, Dear Heart, these ranging hilltops love; Your ardent spirit answers to their spell; You love their faroff reaches, roll on roll; You draw their greatness in yourself to dwell; Their grandeur lifts your thoughts to things above, And all eternity is in your soul.
Poem by Winfred Rhoades about the Robert Strong Woodward
painting All Eternity published in the book "Tributes"

Tributes by Winfred Rhoades, 1950 - 55 poems of beauty and love dedicated to Edith Storer Rhoades
"Tributes" by Winfred Rhoades, 1950
A book of 55 poems of beauty and love dedicated to his wife
Further Tributes by Winfred Rhoades, 1959 - more poems dedicated to Edith Storer Rhoades
"Further Tributes" by Winfred Rhoades, 1959
more poems dedicated to Edith Rhoades
Forward to the book Tributes.
				When I furst knew Winfred Rhoades, back in 1924, he impreessed me as a resolute and deeply Christian hermit.  He was living in his little cabin, at Ferncroft, in the Wonalancet Intervale.  A gracious host, an industrious writer, he was obviously a lover of beauty and of God's out-of-doors.   His strength was limited, and his plans seemed misty.  
				Gradually I learned the story of his shattering illness, which had cut short his high promise as a parish minister and a preacher, and had apparently left him a wreck of a man, destined to live out his years as an invalid.
				The years passed, and we saw him opening his life more and more sensitively to God's healing companionship.  Steadily this Healing God built up his broken strength until he took on his arduous work as a counsellor at the Boston Dispensary. Here, day by day, he met the people of the South End, an dother crowded areas of Boston.  With penetrating insight he saw into their inner mental and emotional prisons, and opened up for them avenues to new freedom and courage.  In addition to he counselling of individuals, he held a weekly class for the steady, progressive mastery of the secrets of healthy everyday living.
				Through these years he was writing books and magazine articles which came out of his own victory over illness. They are practical and straightforward works which have helped many readers to ?nd the path of freedom he had himself discovered. Because his own
				beliefs were not shackled by rigid theological formulas, his thought was specially congenial to those who had lost patience with dogmatic and narrow statements of the nature of God and salvation. He spoke with the authority of experience, and so those who were handicapped by physical and spiritual illness responded. Through his quiet and deeply intelligent faith, he brought new hope to many. God worked through him, steadily and redemptively. for those who no longer found their answers in the over-busy, and over-comfortable climate of so many churches.

				Always in these years ol his healing ministry, I felt the wistful loneliness of a man who was missing something essential. The warmth and glory of life was somehow escaping him. In his writing and in his friendly conversation, one felt a craving which had not been answered, and it was characteristic of him that he did not passively accept this vacuum, any more than he had accepted physical illness as permanent.
				Then, in the summer of 1940. he and Edith Storer met. We saw them increasingly together, sharing the beauty of the White Mountain country, and ?nding obvious delight in sharing all that was precious to each of them. Then came the good news of their engagement, and, on February 14, 1942, their lovely

Further Tributes by Winfred Rhoades, 1959 - more poems dedicated to Edith Storer Rhoades marriage ceremony at the Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, near Boston. The seventeen glorious years that followed are re?ected in this book of sonnets. which are the crowning contribution of a choice and distinguished life.

				For, in these sonnets, Winfred Rhoades communicates the rapture  of a love begun in middle-age; a love which rounded out his life into that completeness which  only God can give. In his previous book of Tributes, in 'Then Joy Came' he pictures the puritan determination of the earlier years: To practice srenuous living day by day, To use my utmost strength, and all the hours My working-time could hold, and all my powers- To live such life has ever been my way.
				And then, like a new and surging movement in a symphony, he writes of Edith Storer. 'you came To me. . . . and brought to me deep joys My life had missed. . . . ' 
				Through these pages Winfred writes of the glory of love in maturity, 'cloudland days of youth gone by, and feet Well up the rugged hill of life.'  He sings of these 'brave, breathless days of joy.' There is a passion in these sonnets which will surprise those who have not found that mature love can be overflowing with passion. it is a love thoroughly re?ned by the ?res of truth and beauty and faith, yet in no way diminished in its youthful ardor. One keeps hearing, back of the glowing words, 'I could say much more . . . ' Winfred and Edith shared the 	beauty of nature, great books, great music, a lovely old house, her flower-gardens, his writing. And they shared it all with the warmth of lovers who are ever grateful to the Source of all love.

				One cannot close without a word of tribute to Edith Storer Rhoades. For it is high achievement to provide the crowning glory of a choice life. In one sonnet he writes of her, 'To love is your distinction. . . .'; and he quotes her as saying, 'I do not think that anyone loves more to love than I.'  I believe that the brightest star in her crown will be her power of love, which gave him, at last, contentment and peace, after the long years of struggle and agony. 
				These further sonnets will be precious to that wide circle of friends who loved and valued Winfred Rhoades. But they will also, I hope, be shared by many who now face the grim wall of 'impossibility' through which he opened a door into life. They are abiding evidence that, for those who look trustingly to God, there is always another spring, with its resurrection out of old deaths! 
				Allen W. Clark Wakefield, New Hampshire
Preface to the book "Further Tributes." by Allen W. Clark

In appendix to the book 'Tributes', there is a comment from Robert Strong Woodward. Your gift to me of Winfred's 'Tributes' was outstandingly the highlight - almost the very background of my Christmas days.  I am deeply moved by it. It seems to me publication of perfection - in expression, affection, conception and atmosphere - and I am drawn to and stirred by perfection.  Its format is gemlike, quite in keeping with its content; how quaint and compelling are its primitive woodcuts! Yet it isn't the eye that is primarily captivated by the little volume it is the heart, the sensibilities, the sympathy that are held.  Robert Strong Woodward.
In appendix to the book "Tributes," there is a comment from RSW.
Mr. and Mrs. Rhoades are known to have owned 4 paintings including:

Autumn Flame sold in 1942.
Woodland Mystery sold in 1942.
All Eternity (previously named The Silver Sky) sold in 1945.
Summer Peace sold in 1945.

Personalized note to RSW by Edith Storer Rhoades and Winfred Rhoades inside the front cover of The Great Adventure of Living
Personalized note to RSW by Edith and Winfred Rhoades inside the front cover of "The Great Adventure Of Living"
To - Robert Strong Woodward from Edith Storer Rhoades -
And I add my word of daily delight in your glorious picture, "Fall Flame" (sic. Autumn Flame) -
and my equal delight in your challenging life.
Winfred Rhoades. March 20, 1942

Handwritten note from Edith Rhoades on the cover page of The Great Adventure of Living which was given to Robert Strong Woodward in 1941.
Handwritten note from Edith Rhoades on the cover page of "The Great Adventure of Living" which was given to Robert Strong Woodward in 1941.
"I wish you could have heard my husband speaking about your courage and about the inspiration you are to people in a lecture the other night.
You would have been pleased. E. S. R". (Edith Storer Rhoades)
Meeting the Challenge Of Life by Winfred Rhoades, 1939
"Meeting the Challenge Of Life," 1939
The Great Adventure Of Living by Winfred Rhoades, 1942
"The Great Adventure Of Living," 1942

Winfred Rhoades' list of publications include:

"Frederick Ernest Emrich, Lover Of Humanity" (1933)
"Cure By Faith", a sick mind makes a sick body (1937)
"The Self You Have To Live With " (1938, 1947)
"Meeting The Challenge Of LIfe" (1939)
"Have You Lost God?" (1940, 1950)
"The Great Adventure Of Living" (1942)
"Finding God More Vitally" (1948)
"Tributes" (1950)
"To Know God Better" (1958)
"Further Tributes To Edith Storer Rhoades" (1959)

Three quotes attributed to Winfred Rhoades:

"A person is really alive only when he is moving forward to something more."

"Life's greatest achievement is the continual re-making of yourself so that at last you know how to live."

"Not the state of the body but the state of mind and soul is the measure of the well-being of each of us."

Heroic Artistry by Winfred Rhoades - Pages from 'Clear Horizons, Winter, 1954'
"Heroic Artistry" by Winfred Rhoades
Pages from "Clear Horizons," Winter, 1954
"Heroic Artistry" by Winfred Rhoades

Suppose that forty years ago, when you were only a youth of twenty-three, the explosion of a cartridge belt had caused you to become paralyzed from the waist down so that from that time forth you had to be lifted from your bed to the wheel chair in which you must henceforth live; and that every once in a while you had suffered such attacks of new pain and weakness as made the continuance of life and its struggle a torture.

Suppose you had suffered from house fires three times, with the loss of valuable works that had cost months of devoted and painful labor; and that as a final blow the hilltop cabin to which you had loved to travel over an ancient and rough wood road had also been burned, with the total loss of whatever you had left there.

Would you have been able to say that in spite of all hindrances and discouragements you would not fail to give to the world all the glory of beauty that it was in your power to give? Would you have been able to say that and to do it for years heaped upon years?

If ever you have the opportunity to see any of Robert Strong Woodward's paintings you should make it your business to do so, both because of their glorious artistry and because of the story of heroism that lies back of them.

Before the accident that made him physically half helpless during the greater portion of his life the youth had worked as a civil engineer to earn money for further education. After the accident he had to give up five years to hospital treatment. Then it became necessary to find some way of making the time pass wisely and of earning his living. He decided that he wanted to paint, and in spite of his handicaps managed to go to the Boston Art Museum for a year of instruction under the well known Philip Hale. Then for a while he endeavored to earn his living by means of designing heraldic devices and bookplates, and doing jobs at fancy lettering.

City life was too difficult for one in his physical condition, and so he went to a tiny village in the heart of the Massachusetts hill country and there spent the rest of his days. But illuminating and making bookplates were not big enough matters to satisfy his ambition. He still wanted to paint. He had to be largely self-taught, unable as he was to see the work of other men, and must find his inspiration within himself. The inspiration came, and abundantly. He would not let himself yield to the temptation to follow new fads of crazy-quilt and tumble-down design, or any other vagaries, but kept his wagon hitched to a star. Very soon he began to exhibit at academies and in galleries, and to win prizes. Art museums, colleges, and public libraries acquired his pictures. Lovers of art bought them for their own private walls.

To see his pictures of flaming autumn woods, and of exquisite mid-summer roadside greenery, and of glorious cloudlands that become finally lost in distant hills rising tier upon tier, and of winter pools in the heart of the woods with just the glint of sunset light and soft haze that turned the scene into an entrancement - to see these is to experience an uplift of the soul. If he couldn't leave his wheel chair and go forth to find a subject, he painted his studio windowsill adorned with a vase of flowers and a glimpse through the glass into the world outside. Or he painted some old shack that was visible in the distance.

He has the gift of seeing the commonplace as beautiful, and of helping other people also to see it after that manner. The titles he gives his pictures manifest the poetry that lives in his soul. The four that have been mentioned, for example are called: Fall Flame, Summer Peace, All Eternity and Woodland Mystery. It was on the hilltop where his cabin stood that the cloudland picture acquired its name finally. The purchaser made some remark about the glory it suggested, and the artist, raising his hand to heaven, spoke the words, "All Eternity." He revealed his soul.

During many years Rob Woodward (as his friends all him) had a large household to provide for. In addition to an aging father and mother there must be a housekeeper and a man to carry him from bed to chair and who must lift him up into the car when he went forth to paint, and then to act as chauffeur. There must be also, sometimes for long periods, a resident nurse. Friends helped if need came, but always he continued to work to the limit of his strength, determined to hold his head high and to be an asset to the world and not a liability.

Under such conditions as this man has known it is not easy to maintain faith in life and in ultimate destiny, but Robert Strong Woodward has refused to surrender his spirit. He has been determined to play the man. He has kept his soul keyed to the truth and has kept his mind in search always of more of the deep truth and meaning of life. In his painting he has held himself in the realm of the high and great traditions. He has put into his pictures a structural vigor, a glory of color, a faithfulness to truth, that lift them far above the common range in art. He has portrayed nature with a vision that gives a spiritual quality to his work. When at last, after happy years of courageous work, his body has become so frail that he can no longer wield a brush, he still keeps on seeking for the high meanings of life.

When Robert Strong Woodward planned out a life of devotion to heroic art - heroic art not only in what he portrayed on canvas but also in the building of a personality - there were relatively few in the world who were called to live under handicaps such as he must reckon with. Now, in these desperate years through which the world is passing, there are multitudes. The boys who have lost arms or legs or eyes in battle, the boys whom the battle front has turned into nervous wrecks, the young of both sexes who are vise-bound and crippled by polio, the men and women with broken hearts who are tempted to cry out in their anguish that there can not be any God of love - these must practice heroic living and working if they are not to go down in defeat. About now one, and then another, and then another of these we hear or read stories of heroic living and doing, and there are few things more heartening than to come upon such stories. To all such and to people in any place who are undertaking to live out their lives in a chivalrous and honorable way the story of Robert Strong Woodward is both an encouragement and a beckoning. Not all of us have latent within us any talent such as he has, but it is every man's business to make good in life with the ability he does possess. To do that is to give oneself over to the highest kind of artistry the world knows.
Pages from "Clear Horizons," Winter, 1954

There were a group of friends that all associated with each other. Robert Strong Woodward, Winfred and Edith Rhoades, Dr. Lawrence and Marjory Lunt, and Ethel Paine Moors. Dr. Lunt was a close friend of RSW in the early 1900s not long after the gunshot accident that left him paralyzed. Dr. Lunt was a psychiatrist who knew and collaborated with Winfred Rhoades, a mental health expert, psychologist and counselor at the Boston Dispensary.
Marjory Glen Lunt letter to Mr. and Mrs. Rhoades after reading the book "Tributes."

"To us, knowing you two, and your perfect love and life they make intimate and rich reading. They give me courage and faith when I think of them which is often. They are very beautiful. What they must mean to you, Edith, the inspirer of such devoted and exquisite love! The picture it makes of you two--warm and content, and worshipping Beauty, physical and spiritual, your lamps hanging high to light the world around you is heart warming."

Another letter was written by Ethel Paine Moors, wife of John Moors and the owner of the Manse, a large home on Bassett Road in Heath and formally a stop along the Underground Railroad. The Moors purchased the painting From the Manse in Heath.
Letter from Ethel Paine Moors about the first volume of "Tributes."

The book is my bedside reading and lovelier every night. I have no favorites, for I like them all best! No end of love and admiration for that so-wonderful wife, and her so-wonderful poet husband."

Winfred Rhoades wrote a poem about the maple trees
on the Manse property.
The Manse Maples, a poem by Winfred Rhoades about the maple trees on the Manse property.  The Manse Maples.  God gives us beauty for the eyes' delight - The hills, the clouds, the azure of the sky, These maple trees that lift their branches high toward heaven and send their roots to where the might of the fucund earth is found, and so unite themselves with life and flower, and fructify, and spread their noble kind to beautify the earth and man's dull soul to life incite.  The hugeness of their age-betokening girth, the tall, straight trunks and those bent all awry by harsh and adverse storms but sturdy still, the shaggy bark, the leaves against the sky - so do these trees bring goodness to the earth, and doing so their God-given task fulfil.  September 7, 1957.
"The Manse Maples," a poem by Winfred Rhoades

Robert Strong Woodward wrote in his diary about his painting From the Manse in Heath:

Painted circa 1930. Painted from the yard of Mrs. John F. Moors, beautiful place in Heath, showing the west view of hills through the tall straight boles of the majestic maples in her yard. Bought by Mrs. John F. Moors of Heath and 150 Fisher Avenue, Brookline, Mass."

Then finally, there is an quote from Alastair G. Maitland published in "The Book of Heath: Bicentennial Essays":

Amongst his (RSW's) closest friends in the town were Mrs. Moors, a prominent Bostonian,  who was a summer resident in the Manse on Bassett Road,  now the property of James Coursey, and the sisters Flora and May White,  who were among the founders of the Heath Historical Society and who owned  the present Read and Howland properties near Heath Center.  During the thirties the White sisters would occasionally arrange showings of Woodward paintings in a room in the Howland house.  Mrs. Moors, like Mrs. W. H. Moore of Pride's Crossing, was among Woodward's principal supporters.   One of his landscapes, done on Burnt Hill "Winter Hill to Winter Hill", was presented by Mrs. Moors to Edith Gleason."

Personal note: Edith Storer Rhoades became my patient in the very early days of my medical practice.

December 2012