Remembering Moritz y Felipe

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Eduador, Stanford (Estanfor/is down for) dartmouth




blue booby?

cf Juana Alicia codex

edit to add, January 16, ie a month later: check back to see something quasi-intelligent that shows that I actually read the brief memoir about this guy who visits Ecuador; I digressed to a revelry about a fellow I knew years ago, from Ecuador, and “pep” and “bats” et cetera.


Moritz Thomsen (friend of Page Stegner,who died in 2018 early, at 80)

Thomsen was born in 1915 into a wealthy American family in Seattle. His namesake was after his grandfather a powerful Washington businessman. Charlie, his father was President of Centennial Mills (Krusteaz Brand) and a multi-millionaire at the turn of the 20th century. As detailed in his memoirs, his relationship with his father was extremely strained, with Thomsen describing the man as “tyrannical.”

During World War II, Thomsen served as a B-17 Flying Fortress bombardier in the Eighth Air Force At age 44 he was working as a farmer in California when he decided to join the Peace Corps. In 1964, at 48 years old, Thomsen came to Ecuador as one of the first volunteers of the Peace Corps . Upon arrival, and after many wanderings, he was assigned on condition of agricultural expert to the small fishing town of Green River, north of the province of Esmeraldas . Thomsen lived for four years in that village, and a total of 35 years in Ecuador. After serving as a volunteer for four years, he remained in Ecuador. He died in 1991 of cholera.


During his time in Ecuador, Thomsen wrote and published four books of memories and impressions, most of them on Ecuador and experience with poverty.

Living Poor: a Peace Corps Chronicle

The first of these books, Living Poor: a Peace Corps Chronicle originally appeared as a series of vignettes in the San Francisco Chronicle, in its Sunday edition. By 1968, these texts were collected, edited and appeared in the form of a printed book by University of Washington Press. From then until the present, the book has remained in print continuously, with editions in the US, UK, Germany and more recently France. In the US alone the book has sold over a hundred thousand copies. It was officially published in 1969 and is ranked as one of the best Peace Corps memoirs ever written.[4]

Other works

Thomsen published a second book about his experience in Ecuador’s agriculture in 1978: The Farm on the River of Emeralds and then, in 1989 and 1990 his two recent texts: The Saddest Pleasure: a Journey on Two Rivers , about his experiences in Ecuador and in a series of trips to Brazil. It won a 1991 Governor’s Writers Award (now the Washington State Book Awards). In his introduction to The Best Travel Writing, 2005, author Tom Miller writes that The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers “embodies some of the very finest elements of travel literature: constant doubt, a meddlesome nature, and a disregard for nationalism.”

My Two Wars looks at both his “tempestuous” relationship with his father and his experiences as a bombardier.

A fifth Thomsen book, Bad News From the Black Coast, is still unpublished.

The San Francisco-based literary journal Zyzzyva published “The Bombardier’s Handbook” in Winter 2013. A selection of entries from Thomsen’s World War II diaries, “The Bombardier’s Handbook” was selected as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2014.According to the introduction by Pat Joseph, Thomsen did not have his journals when he wrote his combat memoir, “My Two Wars.”


About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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