In Puerto Pollensa there is a street that connects the coast road to the Calle Juan XXIII just by the petrol station. To one side of this street is La Gola, the wetland and so-called "green heart" of the resort. La Gola is not the point of this story, though perhaps it could be. What might a travel-writer have made of La Gola as it was or of the view as you came to the end of what is now this street and had looked out over the bay of Pollensa?
The name of this street is Calle Temple Fielding. How many people nowadays remember Temple Fielding? He did after all die 30 years ago. Will there be, on 18 May this year, an appropriate tribute paid to him? A tribute by Pollensa town hall, by the Balearics regional government or even the Spanish national government?
Street names reveal all manner of history and any number of personalities from the past. And one of these personalities is Temple Fielding, an adopted son of Pollensa. For many years, he lived with his wife Nancy in a fourteen-room villa in Formentor. He rented an office in Puerto Pollensa. Temple Fielding was American, an American travel-writer. He published the Fielding's Travel Guides, one of which was to Mallorca.
Temple Hornaday Fielding was 69 when he died. By then, he and his wife had moved to a penthouse in Palma, as the villa had become too much for them to look after. He was, nevertheless, buried in Pollensa, on 20 May 1983.
Fielding began his guide-publishing business after the Second World War. It was he, more than perhaps anyone, who revealed Europe to American tourists. He started writing about Spain at a time when the country was still, so one would think, very much in the darker days of Francoism. However, in 1952, Fielding observed that, despite the reputation that Spain might have had, political matters would never cross the path of the vacationer. That vacationer could go where he wished to and do what he wanted. There were no shadows to frighten him as there were in the Soviet states, Yugoslavia or, intriguingly, Vienna.
Spain's tourism boom of the sixties was partly the product of a desire on behalf of the Franco regime to attract foreign exchange, but it is wrong to suggest that this benefit was was only appreciated at the end of the 1950s. The regime had been well aware of it several years before; it had been brought home to it by important players bringing American tourists to Spain - American Express, TWA and Conrad Hilton.
Into this American mix came Temple Fielding. Though fiercely anti-Communist, Fielding was initially guarded about Franco. Nevertheless, he was so taken with Spain that he chose to make it his base and home. In 1951, he set up that home in Mallorca. Two years later, he had shed any misgivings in making the case for the strategic importance of Spain to the USA. He offered, to what he considered to be American Communist-dupe anti-Francoites, a defence of Franco. The regime had had "to wrest the land from the Communists" and it had built "a firmer and better-balanced nation than some others into which we (American governments) have poured millions - without five cents of outside help".
The Franco regime could scarcely believe its luck. Fielding had already become an established name and now he was acting as an apologist for the regime and as a promoter of tourism - by wealthy, currency-exchange-strong Americans. He was given a chauffeur and afforded every courtesy as he travelled around Spain researching his guide.
Though his style was sometimes criticised, Fielding was enormously influential. And in his style and in what he believed, I find some echoes of my own thoughts. In articles, I use the word "tourist" because it is convenient to do so, but I don't really care for it. Fielding never referred to tourists, only to vacationers, voyagers or travellers. He also wondered how much these travellers cared for culture. They paid lip service to it, giving far greater priority to their hotels and their comforts.
Today, there is not a great amount of American tourism - sorry, vacationing - to Mallorca. There are some Americans who live on the island, a few of whom are in Pollensa. Thirty years on from his death, and coinciding with the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Mallorcan missionary to California, Fray Juniper Serra, should there be a concerted effort to boost this American tourism and influence? This will be the year of Juniper Serra, but, important though Serra was, Fielding was arguably as important. Serra took Christianity to a part of America, Fielding brought Americans to Mallorca.
* Fielding featured on the cover of "Time Magazine", June 1969: http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19690606,00.html
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