Footsteps on the Ice: The Antarctic Diaries of Stuart D. Paine, Second Byrd Expedition.

Paine was hired mainly as dog-driver for the expedition but was also used as a radio operator, maintenance man, and navigator, and is the only published diarist of the trip. He faithfully records what he is reading.

p. 20-1, October 28, 1933 Norfolk: Didn’t go ashore but loaded aeroplanes. Up early + cleaned crates, fed, watered early + took rest of the day easy, including reading Gould’s “Cold” + studying Summer Line. It gives [sic]. “Cold” a vivid picture of what we all have to face down at the bottom of the world but I am thirsty to try my hand at it.

p. 34, Nov. 11 at sea: To-day has been a day of leisure + general recreation. After cleaning + watering dogs, finished Scott’s book. It is a tragic book, though all through it is a tale of heroic efforts against almost hopeless odds. But we have learned from his experiences several valuable things + it is very instructive for me + the rest of us who know so little about the Antarctic. [See footnote 10 on reading expedition accounts for Innes-Taylor classes.]

p. 54-55, Notes a short-lived newspaper aboard the Ruppert enroute to Antarctic, called Snowshovel. June 5: 1934: Wrote my contribution to the “Snowshovel” [for the Dog Dept.] last night + Taylor seemed to like it. Some of it was good even if I say so.

p. 56: We have accomplished great things through our enforced delay. The Snowshovel came out Saturday night. I was one of the newsboys. It is small + not particularly original. I told Taylor I was disappointed, which he didn’t like at all.

p. 103, March 26, 1934, at Advance Base where Byrd spent some months alone: It is extremely cozy though crowded with 14 of us there. 11:30 A.M. Wind picking up. Drying sleeping bag. Taylor reads the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran + I read Browning. Ronne talks. 4:30 P.M. This afternoon we placed two sleeping bags on top of each other + one against the tent on top of these which gave us a real chaise lounge. So we dozed. I read Browning’s ‘Columbe’s Birthday,’ which helped pass the time away.

p. 117: I have lost all respect + confidence in REB as a leader, dubbing him a marvelous promoter, but lacking in the qualities of leadership + justice. What is on the surface is quite different from what is going on in his mind.

p. 132 +, May 18th, 1934ff: Awoke yesterday morning with the idea of a magazine. Russell agreed that it was all right, + since yesterday we have written + and organized it, being known as the ‘Barrier Bull,’ to-night it is with Clark being published. We haven’t enough mimeographing paper to permit everyone to have a copy, so will type sufficient copies to place one in each living quarter. I think it is quite good + I believe the first bit of ingenuity displayed in L.A. [Little America]. [Descriptions of first four issues and some experts continue p. 133-40, and others are given in Appendix 4.]

p. 138, good picture of L.A. library and men reading.

p. 139: Puppies continually getting loose. Mentality of majority here is about 9 years, that for Dustin, Dane, Hill, Miller, Young, less. Blow, blow, blow, snow, snow, snow, night, night, night, eat, eat, eat, read, read, read, fight, fight, fight. Such is life in Little America.

p. 150 July 1 [1934]: To-day is Sunday, holiday + I spent the day reading the rest of Dostoevski or however you spell it.

p. 161: July 9: I fed [the dogs] to-day, having chopped the meat yesterday. Ronne was supposed to have helped me but though we spoke to him yesterday not a sign of him to-day. The goddamn shiftless slacker—-A person I cannot tolerate is one who deliberately permits his mate to do his work for him. Such is Finn Ronne—

p. 163, Aug. 5, after building an igloo: When we got all through I read Stefansson’s account of building igloos + find mine entirely too heavy….

p. 172, Sept. 16th: Wrote several stories, not very good. Rereading Roads of Adventure + find Dad hoped that his four sons would never hesitate to blame themselves for adversities rather than circumstances. It is a good word to follow. There has been too much of criticizing everything + everyone else rather than themselves. Taylor I believe is the worst…

Sept. 19th: I made a thorough search of the polar books to find out facts about the use of metal on runners but the only conclusion, which was common to all, was that in cold temperatures metal runs harder than wood + at warm temperatures metal is superior….

p. 253, after return to base, and after relief ship, The Bear, had arrived, Jan. 24th: New Yorkers + Time [magazines] I have been devouring—Del + Lola sent them. Little realized till I read them have been much out of contact with world we have been. I want to get back + soon too.

p. 267: Read Russell Owen’s South of the Sun + contrary to the opinion of others find it very interesting + more personal + intimate than any other articles or books about polar exploration. What occurred in the first expedition I believe occurred in the second. For Owen writes of the vulgarity + profanity, the deadly monotony, conflicting personalities, atrophied mentalities, the harshness + beauty of Antarctica + all the thousand + one things we went through + saw. He asks one night in July whether all polar expeditions were similar to the one [of which] he was a member. At least he hoped not. I can say yes. The same sordidness, general lowering of moral + intellectual standrds, the same difficult task of molding temperaments of many different hues into a whole + directing that whole to a profitable end rather than turning upon itself + devouring itself in a spasm of hate, envy + jealousy.

p. 269, April 15th 1935 [50 mi. S.W. Galapagos Islands]: Weather has been depressingly warm + humid the past week—I have been reading a good deal +and now am working on Life of Woodrow Wilson by Ray Stannard Baker. It’s an unusual + personal insight into the life + letters of Wilson, extremely well done, interesting + complete. What strikes me particularly at this time is the reliance Wilson placed on friendship. Wilson’s life was for ideals + doctrines. That was his career. Politics was secondary. Yet his emotional side, as hard as he tried to suppress it, blossomed into idealistic friendships which seemed now + then to become hopelessly wrecked, causing immense grief to Wilson. The faith of friends + and their love + kindness seemed to almost overwhelm him at times. Yet when a friend proved unfaithful, nothing caused him greater misery. Just at the present time, such is the state I am in—have been for the past year + a half. Those on the expedition I believed to be real friends are in reality mere passing acquaintances, none of whom will go out of their way one step to do a favor. Now I have adapted the same attitude, instead of trying to cultivate friendships. I discourage them, for they never turned out to be sincere + real—hence causing me misery, the intensity of which no one will ever know. In fact the only unhappiness of my life has been the superficiality of friendships which I believed to be deep + lasting. If I can only bring myself around to believing wholeheartedly that I have no friends then I shall be happier—many times happier + my sentiments + energies can be directed at some thing other than fretting about mistaken confidences + trusts. There is nothing more elating nor more ecstatic than a real friend + nothing worse than to have friends false. I have no friends here + the sooner I get it through my head the better. It is not self-pity but merely a statement of fact, a fact which may be of great value later when analyzing the past two years + what occurred. How I long to be home, where I know, never doubt, have real confidence in knowing that no matter what I do or say Dearie will love me + I will love her. The knowledge of this is priceless. It is one of the few rocks on which I live.

[The following reading list was written in pencil at the back of one of Paine’s diaries (at Ohio State), according to a personal communication from Merlyn Paine, May 27, 2007:
Conquest of the Pole, Alfred Judd
North Pole – Robert E. Peary
Wandering Women – John Cournos
My Life + Hard Times – James Thurber
Road to Oblivion – Vladimir Zenzinov
No Castle in Spain – William McFee
The Part of Missing Men – Meredith Nicholson]