“When you come to the end of a perfect day,
And you sit alone with your thought,
While the chimes ring out with a carol gay,
For the joy that the day has brought,
Do you think what the end of a perfect day
Can mean to a tired heart,
When the sun goes down with a flaming ray,
And the dear friends have to part?
The composer and publisher Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862- 1946) penned those words while staying at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California in 1909 after watching a sunset with friends. A few months later, she added a melody. In her autobiography, The Roads of Melody, she notes “ I was crossing the Mohave Desert, in the moonlight, with some more nature-loving friends; and without realizing that I had memorized those words, I began singing them to the original tune.”
The song “A Perfect Day “ was released in 1910 and went on to sell millions of copies and was very popular during World War I. It is one of Jacobs-Bond's most enduring and heartfelt compositions. “I Love You Truly” is another of her 175 songs. Gene Stratton-Porter sent some poems to Carrie Jacobs-Bond to set to music, but no such settings were ever published, if even composed.
Carrie Jacobs-Bond was born in 1862 in Janesville, Wisconsin. She eventually moved to Chicago, Illinois and later to Hollywood, California. A pianist and singer, she composed music as a way to supplement her income when widowed to help support her young son. The difficulty of finding a publisher led her to publish her own music, starting the company in her small apartment, and eventually The Bond Shop was a very successful publishing company. It is easy to imagine that Gene Stratton-Porter may well have owned some of Jacobs-Bond's sheet music and perhaps played and sang it in the music room of Limberlost Cabin. A watercolorist and china painter, Carrie Jacobs-Bond often decorated the covers of her music with her own paintings of roses and other flowers.
Detective work by Terri Gorney in various historical archives reveals that both Gene Stratton-Porter and Carrie Jacobs-Bond were guests of honor at several events in California in 1922 and 1923. On Sunday, December 10, 1922, a dinner party was given in honor of both women at a home on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles at home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Eugene Verbeck, he was an art photographer and she was a vocalist. Mentioned in the “society” pages of the Covina California “Argus” there was an interesting group in attendance, including musicians and actors. One can imagine lively and fascinating dinner conversations between this gathering of creative people.
In a letter now in the Indiana Historical Society's collection, from Gene Stratton-Porter to one of her sisters, she describes in detail the “wonderful bouquet of old fashioned things” given to her at a Press Club of Los Angeles reception at which there were 500 people in attendance and she and Carrie Jacobs-Bond were guests of honor. “Mine began with a center of rosebuds, then a round of white sweet peas.” As Stratton-Porter notes, Mrs. Bond also received a bouquet - “all lavender and purple.”
Both women enjoyed music, were poets and painters, liked nature, were successful business women, were wives and mothers, and moved from the midwest to California to pursue their careers. Jacobs-Bond struggled with ill health at various times of her life, and didn't have the financial stability that Stratton-Porter had, but both were able to succeed financially and artistically. Jacobs-Bond was invited to perform for both President Theodore Roosevelt and President Warren G. Harding. She enjoyed the works of Hoosier author James Whitcomb Riley and was certainly familiar with Gene Stratton-Porter. In many ways, Jacobs-Bond embodied the grit, perseverance, and resilience of many of Stratton-Porter's characters.
To celebrate Women's History Month, Adrienne Provenzano, otherwise known as the Songstress of the Limberlost, recorded a performance of “A Perfect Day” and Bill Hubbard, part-time naturalist at the Limberlost State Historic Site, put together a slideshow to accompany the music. You can see and hear it at limberlost.weebly.com and on the Friends of the Limberlost Facebook Page. We like to think there are many such “perfect days” at the Limberlost! Now that Spring is here, we invite you to come and experience some!
Well, this is the end of a perfect day,
Near the end of a journey, too;
But it leaves a thought that is big and strong,
With a wish that is kind and true.
For mem'ry has painted this perfect day
With colors that never face,
And we find, at the end of a perfect day,
The soul of a friend we've made.