Earnest Elmo Calkins (‘My Country, Right or Wrong?’) has for many years been a successful advertising man. Lately he has retired from the active practice of his profession to take a detached view of the world about him, to reflect upon its curious ways, and, when the spirit moves, to write down what he sees and thinks.Jasper Jarrow (‘ Egg-Throwing Champions of Turlock’) is that well-known arbiter of fate and fortune — the Man in the Street. ▵ When Walter Millis (‘Hearst’) graduated from Yale in 1920, he went immediately into newspaper work. He has been at it ever since, first in Baltimore, then in Now York, where he is now on the staff of the Herald-Tribune. He is the author of one novel and of The Martial Spirit, a brilliant and witty study of the Spanish-American War. ▵ Many years ago Bradford K. Daniels (‘My Last Frontier’) was also a newspaper man. He went as a correspondent to the far corners of the earth, where ho contracted jungle fever, and had to betake himself to the rugged wilds of the Puget Sound country to fight his way back to health and happiness. He writes: ‘I still live among my cherry trees and White Leghorns, but have returned to my first love — the battered old typewriter.’
This delightful elephant story (‘Bahadur (Guj ’) is one of the many fruits of Sir John Campbell’s generation of service with the British Government in India. Seth K. Humphrey (‘Our Delightful Man-Killer’) is an author of note. His most recent volume, Following the Prairie Frontier, was published last spring. ▵ A voluntary expatriate in the South Seas, James Norman Hall (‘ Three Books Re-read’) is now at work with Charles Nordhoff upon an exciting new volume dealing with the mutiny of the Bounty. ▵ Professor Baker Brownell of Northwestern University, who has actually visited Dore and Friedrich Ritter (‘Eve Calls It a Day’) on their desert island, writes of them: ‘Last year, while cruising among the Galapagos Islands, I had an opportunity to assist and become acquainted with these extraordinary people. He is a Doctor of Philosophy from Freiburg and a veteran of the World War. She is a young, finely educated girl, whose parents live in Chariottenburg, Berlin. They have now lived on their island more than a year, working extremely hard to maintain existence, and finding, they say, the happiness and serenity which modern civilization cannot give.’ Samuel Spring (‘France on Parade) is a New York lawyer whose large corporate connections have perforce given him a wide understanding of financial matters.
‘Joe Taylor’s Emergency’ is Louis Reed’s first Atlantic story, but not by any means his last. It will be followed by a series of Jailbird Epics which are certain to capture the interest and enthusiasm of a wide audience. Born and bred in the West Virginia mountains, Mr. Reed worked his way through school and college (Cornell), served with the American army in France, returned to study for the bar, and hung out his shingle as a general practitioner in a small town nestling in the heart of his native hills. He knows the quaint folk of the mountain country as no outsider could ever know them, and has the advantage of seeing certain types in closest intimacy, for he not only defends them when they get in trouble, but practically lives with them — he boards with the local jailer. ‘The jailbird stories,’ he writes, ‘are all based on fact; I have tried to picture the jailbirds as I know them here in the jailhouse.’ Robert M. Gay (‘The Ornamental Hermit ’) is a distinguished essayist and Professor of English at Simmons College, Boston. Edwa Robert knows whereof she speaks in ‘Children of Earth’ — she has four of her own. Herbert D. Simpson (‘Asses’ Ears’) is Professor of Economics at Northwestern University. ▵ A young man of thirty, Ogden W. Heath (‘They That See the Sun’) is a bedridden invalid who, despite his handicap, has not lost the joy of living. ▵ Born at Tütingen, in Germany, where he studied at the universities of Jena and Göttingen, Bernhard Johann Tuting (‘The Family Chronicle’) came to the United States in 1924. He teaches in a private school at Berkeley, California. ▵ Elsewhere in this Column is printed a fulllength pen portrait of that seasoned old salt, Bill Adams (‘Calm’). Annarrah Lee Stewart (’Saints and I’) has probably torn a leaf from her own life, for she was once a novice in a convent. Stanley Casson (‘ The Lost Millennium’) is an English archæologist. Victor Morawetz (Objectives for Our Schools’) is a distinguished lawyer. Robert A. Millikan (and Unemployment’) is recognized the world over as one of the greatest physicists of all time. He was awarded the Nobel prize in 1923 for isolating and measuring the electron.
Bill Adams at home.
Dear Atlantic, —
I have just returned from a vacation in the wilds to find the September Atlantic with Bill Adams listed among the contributors. I observe from the ‘Contributors’ Column’ that you know Bill is an ‘old sail,’ but it occurs to me that you may enjoy knowing just what kind of old salt he is.
Ten years ago Bill was living in a little California town in one of the great inland valleys, where the country is flat and the weather hot, and most of the trees are planted trees not native to the country. (He has since fled to the old mining country of Dutch Flat, where, as he writes, ‘there is wind blowing through pines and air fresh enough for a mountain man’s breathing.’) The woman’s club of the town was in a hubbub at that time, because the city engineer had ordered down an old oak tree, a landmark in that part of the country, to make way for a straight new asphalt road. Bill, who had bought his home on Kimball Street because that particular tree was there, the one tree which the city fathers had allowed to occupy the centre of a street, had written a note to the president of the woman’s club encouraging the club women to continue their efforts in behalf of the little remaining natural beauty which the town possessed: —
’I think it a sad shame and a totally unnecessary one if the city is to destroy a tree that was here many years before any of us, or before our city, came to being, and that will, if allowed, remain for many a year after we are gone. In this blatant age of commercialism cities, and more especially young and vigorous cities, are all too apt to sell their souls for the thing known as “progress,” or for some fool symbol of a clatterbrained modernity. We build hideous buildings and destroy the beauties that the gods gave for our enjoyment.’
The president of the club brought the letter to the Herald office. There was a ring to it that I liked, and as I was just out of college, and death on interviews, the editor of the paper sent me out to see if I could make a story out of a Don Quixote who was interested enough in beauty to take up cudgels in its behalf.
I found Bill in the garden which surrounded his humble little dwelling. Poplar trees spread their shade halfway across the street and over the thick mat of lawn which Bill had induced to grow in front of his house and the width of his lot. Behind that was his flower garden, about, a quarter of an acre of it, masses of Canterbury bells, blue and lavender and pink, sweet-William in every color, mottled and unmixed, mignonette and violets, and wallflowers golden and red-brown (the seeds sent to him by an Englishwoman living in Texas who had read his stories in magazines and knew he was from England). Across the front of his place he had built a lattice fence over which he was inducing a Cherokee rose to blossom, and in front of the door, which had no porch to cover it, he had built an arbor of new unpainted wood to support a crimson rambler.
There were two main rooms on the first floor of the house; I remember little of the front room except the picture of a many-masted schooner under full sail (my nautical terms will bear watching) and a well-worn volume of Melville’s Moby Dick which a friend had presented to Bill with instructions to write a book as worthy as that some day. The back room, which communicated with a long narrow kitchen, was the more homelike of the two; it had windows across one side through which the sunshine streamed, comfortable chairs, a big wood stove, and Bill’s typewriter on a paper-strewn table.
And Bill himself — tall and thin, sunburned and weather-beaten, but with blue eyes that looked ‘as though his thoughts were pictures.’ He is interesting-looking and many would call him handsome, the kind of handsome which is well set off by the khaki-colored clothes he wears — army wool shirt and trousers. I have seen him only once in a ‘boiled shirt,’ looking miserable and unhandsome in a stiff white collar and clothes which interfered with the freedom of his long, slouchy gait. He boasts of being the world’s laziest man, and he dresses for that part.
I came away from that interview with a number of Bill’s stories and poems, published and unpublished, tucked under my arm, a clipping from a current issue of the Boston Transcript bearing a picture of Bill and listing several of his short stories on the year’s roll of honor, and seeds and plants for my garden. I also had his pledge to write a poem about the Kimball Street tree. We had a grand lime with that tree; before we finished, the whole town was dripping with sentimentality— a good thing, we thought, for its commercial heart. Bill had inferred in his first letter that city engineers and mayors were hardened folk, unappreciative and unaware of beauty, but before the story wore itself out the city engineer was writing poetry (Bill’s poem about the tree inspired an immediate answer to it.) and the mayor had committed to memory Joyce Kilmer’s tree poem. Old-timers brought in pictures of the tree — the Beau Brummel of the town in the first automobile which had been seen in those parts had chosen the old oak tree as a background for his picture in his wondrous machine, and the oldest inhabitant recalled that the oak tree had been known as a landmark in the early days, and that travelers in covered wagons on the way to the gold fields had camped under it. Having indulged their sentiments for a week, the city engineer and the mayor returned to normal and ordered the tree cut down immediately.
The incident of the tree had served to introduce Bill Adams to the community. He was established in the good graces of the Herald staff and even of the mayor, who had literary leanings and preferred to overlook Bill’s references to his materialism. Bill became a familiar figure as he lounged around town talking to chance acquaintances, picking up ideas which magazine readers have since enjoyed. Often he would drop into the Herald office to dash off on whatever typewriter happened to be free a poem or a paragraph which he was afraid would get away from him if he waited to record it on his return home. I have sometimes returned to the office to find in my typewriter a jingle or a bit of philosophy with the explanatory sentence run together at the end: ‘ Bill adams the village nut done this betty.’ Sometimes he helped out in a hectic hour by writing an editorial for us. By the time that I was ready lo relinquish my connection with the Herald, Bill had so wide an acquaintance in the town that he was ready to step in as country editor. He also developed a daily column in which some of the town characters figured. However, his Herald job was incidental to his business of shortstory writing; his work extended his acquaintance and furnished new ideas for his pen. Thanks to Bill, the characters of our little town have paraded in the columns of numerous magazines.
After being forced by ill health to leave the sea, Bill was by turns a tramp, a policeman, a sackbuck on grain ranches, and a pruner and cultivator of orange groves, until he discovered quite by chance that he could write and get money for his writing. As a boy he had run away to sea, but not until he had acquired a good publicschool education.
I could tell you much more about Bill Adams, his wife, who is a friend to the downtrodden, his daughter, with an M.A. degree and radiant red hair, his varied assortment of friends in the town where I knew him, and the distinguished men from the outside world who sought him out in his seclusion. But I have taken too much of your editorial time already to make you acquainted with your newest contributor.
Mills College, California
Science and the unknowable.
Dear Atlantic: —
Gertrude Carver’s article in the October Atlantic suggests again the old question of Job, ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’ — a question that in our fast-moving age has been largely left in the background.
I do not pretend to be either scientist or prophet, and I am aware of the tendency to discredit revelation as the source of any assurance on the subject. Yet, though we may not ‘arbitrarily presume to claim that there is no survival alter death,’the naturalistic theory that there is not somehow fails to satisfy. It has even seemed to me that the same scientific processes which have contributed to the belief that there is no future life for the individual may ultimately provide the premises for making the contrary assumption more plausible. For instance, the natural sciences such as chemistry, bacteriology, and the studies in electricity never quite seem to reach the place where the student can say, ’This is the end — there is nothing beyond.’ On the contrary, there seems to be an ever-expanding, forth-reaching trend of discovery which compels an ever-enlarged expectation from the unknown.
If this is true of the physical universe, which we once thought of as dead matter, is it not possible to ‘have a shrewd suspicion’ that, there may be more in this immortality business than we have been led to think? There may be no angels or big white throne; and though the answer to the query may be ‘immutable and independent of our control,’ there is yet a certain comfort in believing that the Agency which has created a visible universe with so many far-reaching and ever-unfolding ramifications may also have made provision for some future for these spirits of ours which have made life so rich by their appreciation of beauty that ‘a fragment of everything’ they have known has become a part of themselves. Not to have done so would seem more wasteful and futile than nature otherwhere has been.
FRANK T. CLAMPITT
New Providence, Iowa
The challenge of thirty.
Someone has said that the problems of married people are real, those of the unmarried imaginary. May this not also be said of their joys? This flashed across my mind as I read the letter concerning the desirability of being thirty written by Brenda Glass in the October issue. While her kind of thirty is preferable to the sixty-thinking kind she derides, may I suggest that she hasn’t ‘faced Truth in every issue of life’ at all, and that she probably is n’t as happy as she thinks she is?
I could have endorsed her letter when I was twenty-five. Now that I, too, am thirty, I see discrepancies. She has no religion and wants none, yet she sees the world ‘going somewhere under wise guidance.’ My position is reversed — I can’t he so sure that we are going anywhere under guidance, and while I haven’t much of a religion, I wish I did have one that I could believe utterly.
She is free. I submit that hers is the freedom of youth which is a snare and will lead to mere emptiness when she is older. It is unfortunate that the emancipation of women has led some of our college graduates to be content with half lives. The real problem is to combine a career with motherhood gracefully. I am not free. I have a baby and a home to fetter my every movement. My husband is not free. Whenever I think wistfully of the days when I was earning my own living, coaching plays, and meeting many people, I look at his face, drawn with the struggle he has had all day to keep us sheltered, and realize that if it were not for us he could go about with his unmarried friends with fewer worries and with more money in his purse. We have our problems and adjustments; our lives have been joined with strange links — pain, joy, terror, monotony, pity. Neither of us would go back to that freedom of our youth which Miss Glass praises.
Her desire to cram every minute with activity is splendid if she will make that activity count. Thirty should begin to reflect upon the serious problems that confront mankind, especially at the present time. We who have just reached thirty can remember the Great War. As we grew up we wore either stabbed wide-awake by the stark tragedy surrounding us or lulled to complacency by the luxuries and inventions that embroider our civilization. Thirty is the age to reach bed rock and begin construction while there is yet time and strength to accomplish something.
Forest Hills, Long Island
The author to the universe.
Dear Atlantic, —
I composed that manuscript and worked very hard for it, to give it shape and form. It could not find grace in the world? Well, I am not in the least sorry; because if I loose the world I loose nothing; but if the world loose me it looses everything. Good-bye.
Brooklyn, New York
A straight tip from Jones himself.
Dear Atlantic, —
This is a letter from Jones, about whom Mr. Simeon Strunsky has been writing so wisely and entertainingly in the Atlantic. I like Mr. Strunsky for his good-humored defense of me, and, in general, I think him fair and accurate. But I wish to call his attention to one serious error in his estimate of me — namely, that I voted for Herbert Hoover because Al Smith is a Catholic.
I know numerous other Southern Joneses, all of whom voted for Hoover for the following reasons: —
First and overwhelmingly foremost, Al Smith is a Wet. We Southern Joneses believe (however mistakenly) that the way of advancement is along the prohibition path. The Wets, self-named Liberals, we think are in truth Reactionaries.
Al Smith was a Tammany chieftain. We Joneses distrust Tammany.
Al Smith, during the Presidential campaign, impressed us Joneses as lacking the proper dignity for the Presidential office. (Imagine Hoover, apparently for no good reason, racing through the streets of New York in a fire-department automobile with its throttle and siren wide open.)
Al Smith branded those Southern Democrats who opposed him as religious bigots. We Southern Joneses resented this as an untruth, showing in Smith either an ignorant and prejudiced mind or an insufferable attempt to intimidate us.
Al Smith’s diction and grammar over the ‘raddy-ho’ were not of the quality we Southern Joneses expect of our President. I’ll grant that we are somewhat unreasonable in this. Good government and good grammar probably do not bear any direct relationship to each other.
Hoover was a Dry; was all of the things Smith was not; and had an excellent record of highminded accomplishment.
Last and least, Al Smith is a Catholic. Some of us Joneses voted against Smith for that as well as for other reasons. On the other hand, as many or more of us, both Catholic and non-Catholic, voted for Smith for that, as well as for other reasons.
I know that few people change their opinions once formed. Mr. Strunsky may not believe me, but I assure him if is a straight tip from Jones himself.
Nepotism under fire.
The article by George Frederic Nieberg in the October Atlantic, ‘All in the Congressional Family,’ seems to have started something. The stacks of clippings we have received make it look as if the entire press of the nation has taken up the cudgels against nepotism. This is as it should be. The Atlantic was able to show that family favoritism is an all but universal weakness among members of Congress, but if anything is to be done to reform the system which makes nepotism possible, the issue will have to be seized upon and hammered home by the newspapers in each Congressional district. This the daily papers have begun to do. Atlantic readers, who do not often have an opportunity to survey the results produced by an important article, may be interested to glance at a few of the typical editorial opinions which this one called forth: —
New York Times: ‘As a result of this article Mr. Stone’s lone assault on the bad taste and cheap graft through which members of Congress load down the clerical pay rolls with their relatives may come to something. The revelations may stir up aspiring politicians in the districts represented by the Congressmen listed to make campaigns against nepotism.'
Chicago Post: ‘This cheap policy of “keeping it in the family” is made doubly reprehensible by the fact that many of the relatives thus paid by government do no work at all. . . . Graft is an ugly word, but if I hat is not akin to grafting, just what would be akin to grafting?’
Milwaukee Journal: ‘Is n’t, there anybody in the Senate with courage enough to demand and fight for a law which forbids the appointment of any relative to such positions? He would have the united support of the press and of the “folks back home.”’
Omaha World-Herald: ‘It [nepotism] ought to be legislated out of existence.'
Oklahoma City Oklahoman: ‘Although the estimable wife of an Oklahoma Congressman calls it “ persecution,” we are unwilling to concede that it is persecution when the Daily Oklahoman reproduces a part of an article in the Atlantic Monthly revealing that many dozen wives and relatives of American Congressmen are on the federal pay roll as secretaries and helpers of the men who create jobs and appropriate money to pay salaries. Nor can we concede that it is persecution when we point out editorially that this widespread federal practice would subject the offenders to prosecution if done by officials in Oklahoma. ... It may be true, as the lady asserts by interrogatory, that it is nobody’s business how a faithful Congressman runs his office. But it is somebody’s business how the faithful Congressman gets the money to run his own office. . - . To say that the conditions revealed by the Allantic Monthly concern nobody but Congressmen is to repeat in a less profane way what Commodore Vanderbilt once said of the public.’
Covington (Kentucky) Post: ‘Certainly no Congressman was ever elected on the promise that he would appoint one of his relatives as his clerk.’
Dayton (Ohio) News: ‘Public hostility to this kind of political profiteering is unvarying. . . . Yet the issue is not often raised against a member of Congress. The reason is not hard to guess. So many lingers are in that pie that few can touch it without being smeared themselves.’
Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune: ‘In contrast to this federal procedure, Idaho does not countenance nepotism in any of its governments, state or local, and the statutes are very definite in defining the practice and the punishment. [Here, follows a quotation from the Idaho statutes, which provide that any state or local official who appoints a relative to a job supported by public funds “is guilty of a misdemeanor involving official misconduct,” and upon conviction “such officer making such appoiul men! shall lorfeit his office."]
. . . Is there any sound reason why this law, which has worked so well in Idaho, should not be adopted in principle for all branches of the federal government? ’
Minneapolis Journal: ‘ Possibly unemployment relief, like charity, should begin at home. Evidently it is hard to convince a Senator or Congressman that his wife, son, daughter, or other relative should move away from the pie counter and make room for some constituent who desperately needs the pie and who is fully competent to earn it.’
Portland Oregonian: ‘Because nepotism is an individual and somewhat distant evil, as respects Congress, it is difficult successfully to combat it as a practice. But the times are propitious for a flank attack upon it.’
Mobile Register: ‘The power of public sentiment will probably after all be the only means of putting a stop to a practice which is proving an enormous drain and expense to the federal government.’
Charleston (West Virginia) Mail: ‘Possibly it is the duty of the Congressman to take care of his own. . . . At least, whatever view others may take about it, that is just what many members of Congress are doing.’
Cincinnati Enquirer: ‘Such disciples of nepotism should now step forward and, as gracefully as may be, cut their own pay and the pay of their uncles, their cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews, etc., in these parlous times in the interests of a sincere devotion to the welfare of the taxpayers of the country.’
Buffalo Courier-Express: ‘With unemployment what it now is, nepotism becomes a problem that may demand more attention next winter. Mr. Nieberg, at any rate, sees numerous signs pointing in that direction. Publicity such as he gives ought to help revive the Stone bill.'
San Francisco Chronicle: ‘A writer lor the Atlantic Monthly has dug into this question [nepotism and the excessive costs of government] with results illuminating to anyone who proposes to ask members of Congress to let go of something.’
Charleston (South Carolina) News and Courier: ‘ Every candidate for Senator and Representative in 1932 should be called upon to tell what his habit has been, is, and will be in the matter [of nepotism].'
Dallas News: ‘The Atlantic Monthly for October will be in high demand with those who plan to run for Congress in 1932.’