The Kasper Family

H. P. B. JENKINS, 1902-1963. Following active service in the European Theater during World War II, Dr. Harry Jenkins taught Economics in the College of Business Ad­ministration at the University of Arkansas. Many will best remember him as author of the "Old Kasper" communiques, carried continuously in THE FREEMAN since February 1959.

Dr. Jenkins was stricken and died while walking home from graduation ceremonies on the campus, January 26, 1963.

Old Kaspar’s final communique appears on the opposite page, while above is the story of Kaspar, Peterkin, and Wilhelmine as Dr. Jenkins recently recorded it for a young friend.

Old Kaspar and his two equally fictional grandchildren, Peterkin and Wilhelmine, first came to public notice when an incident in their simple lives was described by the English poet, Robert Southey, in his world famous poem, The Battle of Blenheim.

Over a century went by without any mention of the Kaspar family in the literature, except for the preservation of Southey’s poem in anthologies of English verse. Shortly after World War II, all three of this family were taken from their ancestral home in Blenheim, Germany, and brought to Arkansas, where they were supported by a few friends until Old Kaspar was granted a generous monthly sti­pend by The Foundation for Eco­nomic Education, Inc. Under the terms of this grant, Old Kaspar al­lows H. P. B. Jenkins to observe and report on the actions and conversa­tions of the Kaspar family at least one evening a month. THE FREEMAN then publishes these monthly com-muniques for the edification of its readers.

The somewhat whimsical turn of mind which some readers detect in Old Kaspar’s remarks on the con­temporary economic situation may perhaps be explained by the conflict between two diametrically opposed influences on his thinking. During his long residence in Blenheim he ac­quired the prudence, frugality, wis­dom, and self-reliance of his sturdy German ancestors. Opposed to that excellent cultural heritage is the in­fluence of the intellectual climate he encounters in the United States, where men in places of power and influence are contemptuous of eter­nal economic laws and dedicated to the establishment of the welfare state. Although Old Kaspar is re­luctant to question the benevolence and sagacity of the leaders of his adopted country, his lifelong atti­tudes prevent him from giving whole­hearted loyalty to their plans. Hence his mental conflicts and his concern for the education of his two grand­children.