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Walt Whitman to John Flood, Jr., 8 March [1871?]

Dear son,2

I thought I would write you just a short letter, if no more, as you are in my mind this evening. I sometimes come to the office nights, to read, it is so quiet—and now I am sitting here at my desk, with a good lamp, all alone. So I thought of my dear boy, and will send a few words, though nothing particular to say.

Johnny, I wish you would write to me when you receive this, whether you have got work yet. Dear son, if you feel to come on here on a visit, you come with me—you shall not be under any expense for board and lodging.

Johnny, I send you my love, & good night for this time—the mail closes at 8, & it is some after 7 now.


  • 1. Draft letter. [back]
  • 2. Flood was a streetcar conductor in New York, known, according to an unidentified notation on his letter to Walt Whitman, as "Broadway Jack." According to date entries in an address book (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #109), Walt Whitman saw Flood on September 30, 1868, and October 5, 1868, and rode with him on his Second Avenue car; Flood had been a conductor for ten years. After Whitman's return to Washington, there was a brief correspondence, consisting of four known letters from Whitman (November 22, 1868, December 12, 1868, February 23, 1871, and March 8, 1871) and one from the young man. Flood, somewhat better educated than some of Walt Whitman's other conductor friends, wrote on January 11, 1869: "Sir, It is with great pleasure that I sit down with pen in hand to address a few lines to you." He informed Walt Whitman that he had lost his position on New Year's Eve and that he was now seeking another job: "I shall still continue to correspond and can never forget your kind friendship towards me. . . . Your True and Ever intimate friend." According to the first listing of his name in the New York Directory, in 1872–1873, he was at that time either in the milk business or a milkman. [back]
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