It was a long, long time ago
under circumstances of exceedingly pleasant remembrance that I once was
told, "You make love like you write: sometimes tenderly, sometimes
limitations of literary dissemination and advancing age make academic the
most intriguing phase of that analogy. What follows on these pages are
examples of the belletristic gamut.
It has been no easy
matter to sift through hundreds of tracts and select a few for purposes of
publication. It's almost like choosing from among one's own children.
Man and boy, I've been setting down my observations and notions on a wide
range of subjects for more than thirty years, in daily and weekly
newspapers and trade magazines of one kind and another. A man can conceive
a lot of manuscriptive siblings that way.
we've tried to do here, the publishers and I, is serve up a smorgasbordic
indictment that is reasonably representative. Variety has been the
keynote of our quest. Thus our hors d'oeuvres range from the
light-hearted, sometimes flippant, through music, sports, travel, even
philosophy—all the way to canapes sober and earnest. In this collection
you will find a few niblets of alleged humor, a few hopefully poetic
excursions into verse, some tidbits smacking of the sentimental, others
mercilessly lampooning, twitting alike the large and the small.
in these past three decades of typewriter pounding, your correspondent has
tried to be a bit of everything—reporter, essayist, biographer,
dramatist, poet, novelist, wit, critic, scenarist, in some cases an
amanuensis seeking to record for a newspaper's circulation those moving
and delightful excerpts from the classics.
regard this last as far from the least important, and I'll tell you why.
It is not easy, for example, for many of us to digest all of Carlyle,
yet some of the most beautiful and inspiring passages ever created came
from his pen, and such nuggets need to be dredged from the great ore
fields of Cheyne Row. One needn't be an intellectual to appreciate those
extracts any more than he must be a "highbrow" lover of opera to
enjoy the "Habanera" from "Carmen" or the
"Barcarolle" from "Tales of Hoffman," to thrill to
"la donna e mobile" from "Rigoletto" or "mi
chiamano Mimi" from "La Boheme."
only do the score or more of pieces that follow ramble over a wide range
of subjects; they cover a considerable period of time, too. This
condition makes for some opinionated inconsistencies, even conflicts. I
realize, for instance, that my spoofing of television, made in the
ignorant innocence of life before I became a video addict, will receive the
derision it deserves from those of my regular readers who recognize how
important a part this miracle of free entertainment has come to play in my
life, but in such instances I can do nothing but salt down my crow and
make it as palatable as possible.
among these selections, I hope most sincerely, will please you. The
versatility of the subject matter should see to that, although by the same
token it virtually rules out any chance of acceptance of all by anyone.
may, for example, shy away from violence. In that case, try a little
you in a sequel?
A. C. C.
GET THEE BEHIND ME
down on me with the horn of Ray Prideaux's new Cadillac calling enticingly,
alluringly, like the siren-song of Homer's sea-nymphs. "Come and join us this
in Atlantic City," the fluted notes seemed to say.
Realtor leaders from upstate, they were on their way to
Traymore to make convention arrangements. At least, that was their excuse. "Come with
us," was the theme of their
bewitching siren choir . . . "celestial music warbles from their
tongue, and thus the sweet deluders tune the song."
I couldn't go; too much unfinished work lay piled up on
desk, including a column to be written. But, unlike Ulysses, I had no wax-stuffed seamen to hold
me in spite of mvself . . . "now round the masts my mates the fetters
and bound me limb by limb with fold on fold."
Contrariwise, I had only my unselfish wife
joining her entreaties to theirs: a weekend of relaxation in such pleasant company
would do me good.
So I stood wavering, alone, I and my sense of
duty, until a brilliant thought assailed me—a fragment of a conversation
with Leon Todd at dinner in Newark some nights before.
I didn't pay too much attention to it at the
time," a tanned, clearer-eyed Leon was saying, "because I never had
a roomette before. But now that I just came up from Florida in one, I'd like to reread what you
wrote about 'em a couple of years ago."
Well, why not? And, while I'm about it, why not
column? Reprinting requires less energy and imagination
and, most important, less time than does creating. So it
is—forgive me, please, and thanks for a nice weekend.
personal standpoint, the week's visit to Chicago— my first, incidentally
Both at the national realtor convention at the Stevens
the savings and loan affair at the Palmer House, New Jersey's defeat of public housing at the
November 8th election was a favorite topic of conversation. A display of the
used in the campaign put our state in the limelight, and folks like Armel Nutter, Harrison Todd,
Henry Stam, Emil Gallman, Jack Kempson, George Seiler, Jim Holton, Garry
Winter and other realtors and newspapermen saw to it that everyone knew I had directed the
Then, too, New Jersey won first prize in the
Day publicity contest, and I took bows on that achievement.
We beat every other state in the country in this competition.
I spoke on the program of the National Association of
Estate Editors; everything went well, and at the cocktail party and dinner which followed, I was
honored by being made a
member of this select group.
My big day, though, was Saturday, at least
After breakfast, I dropped in to see Leon
Todd, confined to his bed with pleurisy following
a heart attack, in time to have some more breakfast with him. The Greyhound
the newspapermen on a tour of Chicago left the hotel at eleven. At noon we lunched at
Illinois Tech. Alas, I couldn't do justice to the smorgasbord that I love so
Our tour ended at the State-Madison building and a
party featuring delicious canapes. Back at the hotel for a 5:30 reception
to Harold Stassen and General Motor's Alfred Sloan in the Stevens' Royal Skyway suite, no less.
there to a rip-roaring Ohio reception, then a Virginia ham sandwich in the Virginia suite, orange
juice, in the Florida suite, and finally to a full-course meal at the banquet
of the Society of Industrial Realtors. Eventually to the Hotel Sherman where Carl Byoir had rented the
on the Roof for a press party.
couldn't eat another thing.
My roomette on the Broadway Limited provided a nice
pricked blackness when finally I retired. The
gang from New York and North Jersey was on, and we and the Philly crowd joined them, so it was a
short night at best.
The secret of getting along in a roomette is to refrain
drinking before you go to bed, or alternatively to stay up so late that you won't have to get up during
the night. The wall bed in a roomette, you know, occupies the entire space. To pull
it down, you park your rear out the curtain, fasten it down (the bed, I mean), clamor
in, then draw shut the mirrored door to your compartment. The bed covers
everything, including the toilet.
Should you awaken during the night—and stay
got a problem on your hands. First, you kick off the covers, slide down to
the foot of the bed, get on your knees, slide back the door, slide out of bed, your
derriere pushing the curtain into the aisle, release the catch on the bed, let
up to the wall; then some time later reverse the entire procedure.
are not for folks with weak kidneys.
They are nice, compact, modern examples of
utility, though, all
glass and steel and aluminum with every possible convenience,
I made sure I stayed awake for the crossing of the
especially the horseshoe curves, including the famous one at Altoona,
where you could see the brightly lighted front section of the Broadway wending its serpentine
laboriously up the mountain. The darker outlines of distant mountain ranges added a pleasantly
eerie touch. Lights of an occasional town punctured the darkness spasmodically.
After Pittsburgh I let myself be carried into slumber by the gentle motion
of the train and slept all the way across Ohio and into Fort Wayne, Indiana. The
homestretch was enlivened
by a race between the Broadway and the New York Central's
crack 20th Century Limited. We won. In fact, we got in to Union Station
fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.
THE AIR, BOY
Returning was even a better deal. I swapped with Leon
whose doctors didn't want him to fly home. It was my first flight in an airliner, although I had
been up many times.
now on I'm a fly-boy.
Tuesday at noon was Chicago's first sunny day in a week
no less windy than the others. A half hour's ride by limousine to the Chicago municipal
airport—"aviation center of the world"—took us past the stockyards and
hogs that made me think of my epicurean indulgence the
After watching Northwest's huge stratocruiser take off,
settled down in TWA's 460 for another first in my life. The Pullman had been one, Chicago another.
We soared above toy houses set in aimless patterns on
a vari-hued and vari-shaped patchwork quilt, crisscrossed with tiny silver threads and calcimine seams,
some winding, some die-straight, with pokey bugs crawling along them at intervals.
Here was a golf course whose scraped roughs looked like foot-stomps of a berserk giant. As
we climbed higher, the miniature buildings became shapeless tombstones,
nondescript and indefinable, with here and there a larger-than-usual cemetery.
Lake Michigan—the Atlantic without whitecaps—lay
to the north. The whole countryside was covered with a mantle of marble, the handiwork of the Snow
King. Soon, as the snow belt slipped behind, the obliterated checker board
What a grand feeling, this overseeing of earth from on
this choice seat at a panoramic showing of the world at its kaleidoscopic
Thousand Island dressing floating by leisurely as we rise
the clouds —and overhead the unbroken blueness of the sky, the unfiltered glare of the sun
reflecting on our silver
wings . . . the horizon a level mountain of alabaster, and above
it long, slender wolfhounds darting out from time to time ....
Finally, after the first thrilling hour, surfeited with the
soul-cleansing prophylaxis of noble white and azure, comes relaxation and realization of the gracious charm of
air hostess. But even her radiant personality can't compete
long with Nature's ....
The clouds scooting below become
increasingly prolific and it is apparent we are approaching
Pittsburgh, a supposition confirmed as an off-white
haze settles over everything .... Finally, solid banks of smoke
close in and blot out the earth completely .... Perceptibly cooler in the
plane as we climb to keep above the
sea of solid cloudbergs, their tops more varied in shape than
mountains .... Marveling that the pilots,
with all their training and instruments, can find their way down through
that cottonfield, layer after layer, to hit the thin splinter
of a runway ....
Settling down over Pittsburgh Airport, the world we know takes shape
again. Houses look like houses,
hills like hills, the quilt becomes farms, the Allegheny and
Monongahela become rivers, clouds float overhead
where they belong.
Crossing the Alleghenies as the sun is setting is a
A mammoth amphitheatre, its rim encircled by pink and blue puff balls, mountain ranges the
levels of seats, the green-gray-brown patchwork a tarraza laced
by seams of concrete and water .... Here and there a red-thatched spectator sits or a group cluster
in attentive immobility, enjoying the regal, panoramic splendor .... Harrisburg at dusk, its airport a citadel
protected by a turret of hills cuddled alongside the graceful Susquehanna ....
After Harrisburg, night closes in and the sky becomes inverted, with myriads of stars twinkling
in building and on street corner .... Venus hangs a slender silver sliver in the western
sky and her planetary namesake emerges in all her robust beauty to form the
celestial version of the Turkish crescent .... Below, jeweled necklaces
strung across the earth's throat and bosom, and the liquid gold of moving motor lights
The great locket of
diamonds and rubies and emeralds that is Philadelphia beckons us enticingly to journey's end, in
time for dinner after lunch in Chicago .... It's the air for me henceforth.