Robert Blegen visits the Blegen Library
Robert (Bob) Blegen holding Carl Blegen’s silver kylix
I had corresponded with Robert (Bob) D. Blegen for twenty years, since I became Archivist of the School, but we had never met. Bob's last visit to Greece was in 1966 and most of his time was spent in Pylos. He remembers that during his trip to Pylos, his aunt Anne Blegen and Marion Rawson made sure that Bob's family "stayed out of Carl's way," since he was not only busy with the excavation but also was taking care of Elizabeth (Libbie) who had been confined in a wheelchair by a stroke. Bob, who is 90 years old, but in a great shape, had many stories to tell us about "uncle Carl" and the rest of the Blegen family. As the "archivist" of the Blegen family, Bob edited and published in the 1990s three small volumes that contain lots of useful information about Carl's life (Carl W. Blegen: His Letters Home. Book I - Life in Athens; Carl W. Blegen: His Letters Home. Book II - From Distant Fields; and Carl W. Blegen: True Stories). In 2010, Bob sent to the School's Archives a large box with all of Carl's letters to his brothers and sisters. Before his arrival in Athens, Bob had asked for three things. He wanted to visit Ploutarchou 9, to go to the First Cemetery, and to see the Blegen Library and the American School, which he did not have time to visit back in 1966. Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen professor at the University of Cincinnati, and I made sure that all of Bob's wishes were fulfilled. At Ploutarchou 9, the Director of the J.F. Costopoulos Foundation, Hector Verykios, gave us a tour of the house. Bob was pleasantly surprised to see the wonderful frescoes on the ceilings that recent renovation of the house had brought into light. At the end of the tour, I photographed Bob Blegen outside the heavy wooden door of the house, where Carl Blegen had been photographed by Grace Goulder for the Cleveland Plain Dealer Pictorial Magazine in 1960. From Ploutarchou 9, we drove to the First Cemetery and took the long walk to its Protestant part,  where Carl and Elizabeth are buried near their friends Bert and Ida Hill.  The stroll was peaceful and also very rewarding since we got to know Bob a little better during the long walk. By noon we were at the Blegen Library of the American School, resting in the comfortable leather chairs by the fireplace of the Main Reading Room, under the large portait of Carl Blegen (which Charles K. Williams, the long-time director of the Corinth Excavations commissioned some years ago). Lunch at the Director's house followed (unfortunately, Jim Wright, the Director of the School, could not be with us because he was attending the Trustees Meeting in New York) in the company of Charles Williams, Nancy Bookidis, Jack Davis, Maria Georgopoulou, Ioulia Tzonou, and Leda Costaki; we sat around a dining table that once belonged to Carl and Elizabeth Blegen, and we used silverware that carried the Blegen monogram. That's when we also heard Bob's wonderful stories about his D-day experience as a navy officer in 1944 and his subsequent service in Japan as a commander of a small warship in 1946. He is an eloquent speaker! Next stop on Robert Blegen's Mediterranean journey is Troy, where he will again trace his uncle's footsteps, and after that he will go to Kavala, where Carl spent a few months in 1918-1919 as an officer of the American Red Cross, while he organized the repatriation of Greek refugees from Bulgaria after the end of WW I.