Myself when young; growing up in the 1890s

196 56 32MB

English Pages [264]

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Myself when young; growing up in the 1890s

Citation preview

)

B

Krock Myself when young

M.L.

K912 l732YiB tORXGE

*~

uu

*XJ

^

:> C c: QUU

o £

s

e: oc

o

lA.

Q GC C/]

PUBLIC LIBRARY FORT WAYNE AND ALLEN COUNTY,

IND.

^ '

»

V

LEN h

i

H£9,

L

!NT,

Y PL BL| C LIBRARY . J

up,

3 1833 00 79 460B

••

z,

>3

In Myself

way

turns to a

Memoirs,

his

When Young, Arthur Krock of life only briefly explored

and

to a time

9 10, Krock grew up

rural

in

a place long past, yet

From 1887

here richly and fully recaptured. 1

re-

to

and streets of

in the fields

and urban Kentucky, learning about the

world around him, and eventually, about the par-

With

world of newspaper journalism.

ticular

a

keen eye and a clear prose, Krock brings back those

days



of rural

ling excitement and

He

summer afternoons and

lazy

the

community

sense of

Glasgow, the bust-

activity of Louisville.

recreates the big brick house he lived in,

surrounded by uncles and aunts and ruled by the strict

but gentle hand of his grandfather; the

country courting and of melon-patch

rituals of

raiding in August; the pleasures of a very infor-

mal type of fox-hunting,

which the hounds

in

and handlers went chasing while the "hunters" sat

on a

hill

with

He

and drank bourbon.

camp meetings,

led by

tumultuous

spirituals;

when normally

peaceable

Saturday

;

filled

nights,

displayed

citizens

"special inclination to violence

ence of alcohol"

recalls fiery

Negro preachers and

under the

a

influ-

breezy stagecoach rides to near-

by villages; and the exciting process of learning the "three useful things"

— how

to

ride,

shoot,

and draw a bow.

And

then he moves to Louisville and the pic-

ture changes to the rough-and-tumble world of

newspaper reporting with like editor

its

legendary figures

Henry Watterson, with

his

one blaz-

ing blue eye. and cartoonist Fontaine Fox, creator of the

Toonerville Trolley.

He

creates a pene-

trating portrait of the fierce newspaper competition

in

1907 and of Louisville

atmosphere, social

prominent

and

personalities

Mother Savage, famed

life,

theatrical

the

and

in

general:

entertainments, characters,

proprietress of

boarding house.

its

its

like

Louisville's

And Krock

talks about his initiation into politics, his stories

resounding with the

likes

of

William Jennings

Bryan, William Taft, William Randolph Hearst,

and

local figures like the

"mountain

of a

man,"

Senator Ollie James.

The book

ends with Krock's triumphant ar-

Washington, D.C.,

rival in

in

1910, the begin-

ning for him of a "new and awesome phase of

was to post me twice in Haldeman papers (1910New York Times (1932-

national journalism that

Washington:

for the

and for the

1915)

1966)."

This age,

a

is

a

warmly

nostalgic

memoir

of another

book both entertaining and informative

about the details of Arthur Krock's personal

— and about American in

the whole

way

life

of life of the simpler

society that preceded

World War

I.

"There have been localities in a span of history which the conditions of living seem to have

overbalanced the

human

the day-to-day problems

bent for destruction and

were minimal

parison with the pleasure of existence. true of the region

grew

to

where one

young manhood."

in

com-

This was

individual, myself,

BOOKS BY ARTHUR KROCK THE EDITORIALS OF HENRY WATTERSON IN

THE NATION

MEMOIRS

THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED AND OTHER DECEITS MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

MYSELF

WHEN YOUNG

MYSELF

WHEN YOUNG

Growing Up

in the 1890's

BY ARTHUR KROCK

Little,

Brown and Company

— Boston-Toronto

COPYRIGHT

©

1973 BY ARTHUR KROCK

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPROPRODUCED IN ANY FORM OR BY ANY ELECTRONIC OR MECHANICAL MEANS INCLUDING INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS WITHOUT PERMISSION IN WRITING FROM THE PUBLISHER, EXCEPT BY A REVIEWER WHO MAY QUOTE BRIEF PASSAGES IN A REVIEW. FIRST EDITION T O3/73

The author is grateful for permission to quote from the following previously copyrighted works:

Max Gordon Presents by Max Gordon with Lewis Funke. Published by Bernard Geis Associates. Copyright 1963 by Max Gordon and Lewis Funke. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

©

"Derelict" by Young E. Allison from The Best Loved Poems of the American People edited by Hazel Felleman. Published by Doubleday & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging

in

Publication Data

Krock, Arthur, 1886Myself when young. Title. I. PN4874-.K73A3

070'. 92 '4 [B]

72- -8830

ISBN 0-316-50441-6

by

Published simultaneously in Canada Brown &f Company (Canada) Limited

Little,

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

1732715 Introduction

The

who

phrasemaker

of the

Boston Centinel

described the Administration of Presi-

Monroe as "the era of good feeling" had his eye Western hemisphere, because never in the history of mankind has there been such a period in the world at large. The same can be said of the many "Golden Ages" which have been proclaimed; dent

only on the

for, as

Pascal wrote, though man's creative achieve-

ments advance from age

to age, his

malignancy

re-

mains the same. Yet there have been in

localities in a

which the conditions

balanced the

human

of living

span of history

seem

to

have over-

bent for destruction and the

day-to-day problems were minimal in comparison

with the pleasure of existence. This was true of the region where one individual, myself,

grew

to

young

manhood.

The purpose detail

of this

book

is to set

Wagnalls, 1968) what

life

was

more Funk &

forth in

than in a previous one (Memoirs,

like in that region

INTRODUCTION

Vlll

for a

growing boy, and then

ing his

way

for a

young man

learn-

in the field of metropolitan journalism.

In retrospect, though as always the times were good

and bad,

it

was an

of regret that

it

era to

remember with

a mixture

cannot be returned to and of recogni-

tion that the progress of social justice

would be

stifled

by the reversion.

But though on the global scale the period 18871910 was marred by many wars of which the British-Boer conflict in South Africa was the bloodiest even these were localized the pandemic military encounter of 1914-1918 had not been joined. And





:

while the forces of nature inflicted great asters,

human

dis-

such as the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood

and the great

tidal

wave

that razed Galveston, Texas,

the attainments of science were of a measure and of

matched by no equal stretch of history, even though some of the blessings engendered new a quality

problems.

The

first

combustion-engine-vehicle, invented by

Benz, was exhibited

at the Paris

Exposition of 1889.

In 1892 Dr. Rudolf Diesel produced the internal

combustion engine which bears his name. later, via the

kinetoscope, the era of

Two years

moving

objects

on a screen was inaugurated, one of the steps which led to both

sound and picture through the media of

television.

Roentgen discovered the

X ray. Marconi, in

1896,

INTRODUCTION

IX

patented wireless communication and able in 1901

made

oper-

it

by sending a message from Cornwall

Newfoundland. Becquerel

to

in Paris discovered the ra-

dioactive quality of uranium,

and

1898 the Curies

in

turned pitchblende into polonium and radium. In

1900 Dr. Walter Reed completed the research which led to the prevention

Ford founded the

and cure

Henry

of yellow fever.

Ford Motor Company. And

1906 Captain Alfred Dreyfus was ated of charges of treachery

officially

by fellow

in

exoner-

who

officers

had hatched the anti-Semitic plot that had led

to his

long imprisonment on Devil's Island.

Most

of these great advances entered the public

domain before

I

reached

my teens

1900) and they the family and in the (

,

must have been talked about in community. But I remember only the Dreyfus and

my of

this

because

at the

age of ten (1897)

I

had

hands on and was devouring the forbidden

Emile Zola's Nana

laid fruit

until an uncle, discovering

snatched the book away. So that

in the act,

case,

me

when

January 1898, published his celebrated at{T Accuse) on the perversion of French justice,

Zola, in

tack

my

interest in the discussion that article

derived from the fact that Zola I

know

was the

author.

a standard attitude of youth

whole American past ing of value

is

is

provoked

is

that the

an "irrelevancy," that noth-

to be learned

from

it

in

addressing the

problems of today. Yet the present can be the past's

INTRODUCTION

X

And

deformed offspring.

this

one

is

rushing with

such speed and in such volume that even the youth

who

are "with

it"

are swept along the faster because

they have been deprived of the historical markings

which would enable them

mad tide

this

creation

is

of time.

that

when

And

to

swim

intelligently in

the inexplicable decree of

the future arrives

no longer

it is

the future.

The offers

antidote for the false philosophy that the past

— have —

no lessons for the present action

phy by which

so

many

intellectuals

a philoso-

led youth

badlands of anti-intellectualism

is,

view, a return to inspection of the past

itself.

into the

of this inspection tions.

may

my

Some

be provided by these recollec-

Moreover, the thoughts, diversions and

plines in rural

in

and urban Kentucky

disci-

in the times cov-

may lay some innocent balm on the spirits who bear the enormous burdens, and must

ered here, of those live

with the daily menaces, of this troubled world.

The members

of

my own

profession

they have invented what they call

may is

discover in these pages that

"New

it,

who

think

Journalism"

in another dress,

an updated version of the personal journalism

which long dominated the press of the United States.

The

idea that

it

is

new

to

compose the

re-

by recording every known or rumored word and gesture uttered or made by the prin-

port of an event

cipals involved, the "profile" treatment, is at least as

INTRODUCTION old as Plutarch

XI

and was perfected more than a hun-

dred years ago, not by the

New

Yorker, but by

Ma-

caulay in his essay on Dr. Johnson.

And the

words

Agnes" I've

insofar as this book of the old

is

woman

directly apply:

"But

mickle time to grieve."

otherwise concerned, in let

"The Eve

me

of St.

laugh awhile,

MYSELF

WHEN YOUNG

Chapter One

How

happily remember: the noon whistle that announced the L&N train had arrived from Glasgow Junction on the main line of the railroad.

The sound

i

of hoofbeats

and the jingle

ness as carriages neared the depot.

The

stir

of har-

around

Square as merchants, lawyers and mounted

the

countryfolk awaited the delivery and sorting of the

mail at the Post Office.

The

bustle around the soda

Mr. Raubold's confectionery. The tramp of feet into "the" restaurant that marked the noonday lull in the town's commerce that the train whistle

fountain in

had inaugurated. For a few boys, of a

happy

ritual to

rolled in.

whom

I

We could hear

it

was one, it was when the noon train

usually

be at the depot

coming

as

it

crossed the

bridge over Beaver Creek a couple of miles away.

was

a matter of great pride to be recognized

It

by the

red-bearded Mr. McConnell, whose surrey was the taxi of those times,



his high estate

by Captain Crigler, the conductor

made even more glamorous by

his

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

4

blue, brass-buttoned serge suit, his gold-braided cap

and the heavy watch chain that hung resplendent over his well-nurtured belly. But especially proud

were the boys who got a personal greeting from Mr.

Payne because he was the engineer, and by the use of

shrewd

flatteries

it

was

possible to be invited to

him once in a while Somewhat less desirable

ride in the engine cab with

and from the Junction.

to



because this might involve helping feed the fuel into the engine

— was

to

be on a personal footing with

I

have forgotten his form, his

the fireman (alas,

visage and his

After

all

name

!

)

these amenities

we would

return to the

Square, purveyors of whatever news of the outside

world we had acquired arrival

of a

V.I. P.

by the

boots.

at the depot,

such as the

stranger, established as obviously a city

magnificence of his clothes and

We were dusty from the walk on the unpaved

road, but

Not

it

was the dust of adventure.

less so

before us, did

than

we

Tom

Sawyer, several decades

teen-agers of the year of the turn of

the century seek to put into practice the military exploits of lances,

Wilfred of Ivanhoe. Armed with wooden

mounted on wooden

"horses,"

we

constantly

reenacted the tiltings at Ashby-de-la-Zouche. goal

was

and the

to stay

The

aboard and tumble your opponent,

ratio of success

was such

that every house-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

5

hold in Glasgow was equipped with salves and

lini-

ments.

Our family had

a special salve with the remark-

able quality of rapidly curing small of the skin disturbances

which outdoor

and insect-breeding climate

my

inflicted.

grandmother prepared from

ham

dients, including

wounds and some life in

a hot

This emollient

a variety of ingre-

which she never com-

fat,

pletely disclosed.

One

of

my

uncles set up a production apparatus

under the name of "Grandma's

for the concoction

Salve" and tried to find a market for inventor

it

would make us

all rich.

marketing and promotional with which

my

skills,

it,

assuring the

But, lacking the

and the

capital,

Princeton classmate Gerard B.

bert put Listerine into millions of

holds, he never

made

a

Lam-

American house-

And

go of the project.

the

miraculously healing balm never attained more than local use I

and distribution.

suppose

down from

a

my

grandmother's recipe was a hand-

remote ancestor

grandfather, she told me, small town it.

to

It

named

in Bavaria,

was burgomeister

Eisweiler, as nearly as

would be more romantic

an ancestor of the

where her

I

to attribute the

Romany

in

a

can spell

formula

breed. But her fair

hair and complexion, her straight nose, broad brow

and other definitely Teutonic features gave no substance to this fancy.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG John and Bob Lessenberry, being smaller and skinnier than self-appointed

I,

were

my

manager

favorite opponents;

of the jousts

one or the other until protests obliged for a fairer matching.

my

selected

As

a regular

best friend, Frank

I

and as

paired with

me

to arrange

enemy

I

then

McQuown, and

got

my share of the tumbles as was right and proper. When we were not tilting exchanging after each



joust the roles of Ivanhoe and Sir Brian de Bois-

Guilbert the Six

— we suddenly transmuted

Hundred

ourselves into

at Balaclava, galloped

our wooden

horses around the Square, to the annoyance and peril of citizens, pigs,

dogs and such cats as ventured from

their sanctuaries

under the plank walks.

Our wooden horses were

not, as

might be sup-

posed, the toy rockers which, in those days, were the first gifts

on a boy's emergence from infancy. Ours

consisted of broomsticks, each affixed with a straw-

maned wooden parisoned. attained

horse's

head that was splendidly

And we made

as

by the hard striking

much of

clatter as could

ca-

be

wood ferules on wood

sidewalks, a joy regularly terminated, however, by the

town marshal.

Chapter Two

Glasgow was built around the Court House Square, from which radiated broad streets

expanding

into "pikes"

and smaller

streets

and lanes

culminating in dead ends. In the center of the Square in

my

boyhood was the Court House (the fourth

structure of

its

kind), a Georgian, white-columned,

many-roomed building within a white wooden fence supplemented by hitching posts, and surrounded by a spacious lawn of bluegrass. The rest of the Square consisted of four blocks containing the business com-

munity

— banks, shops,

and the Opera House

in

stores, offices, restaurants,

which

itinerant stock

panies performed such melodramas as

com-

The Serpent

and the Dove, and individual and concert musicales were held.

The

radial streets

fortable houses, set far as the

estates

were lined with large, com-

amid

trees in

broad grounds, as

town boundaries extended. Behind these

was

the modest housing occupied by citizens

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG and ultimately the make-do dwell-

of lesser income,

ings of the poor, in various states of upkeep.

But a separate section, known as the Kingdom, was occupied by the Negro population. The houses were superior

many

to

where the "poor

of those

whites" lived, and the yards and gardens more care-

The churches

fully tended.

— were

whitewashed

handcrafted with tion.

— painted

or

meticulously clean, airy and

skills

enhanced by religious devo-

Whatever Glasgow

could be termed a slum,

The

especially

in those it

days had of what

was not

the

Kingdom.

"pikes" that broadened from the streets en-

House led to the capitals of the adjoining counties of Warren, Allen, Cumberland, Adair, Metcalfe, Monroe, Hart and Green. My famclosing the Court

ily, after fire

destroyed our house on the Square, lived

successively on two of these pikes

Allen County, the other at Burkes-

at Scottsville, in ville, in

Cumberland County.

My memory of the first, ing is

— one terminating

known

as the

of a large,

a temporary family lodg-

Ford Place, on the

Scottsville Pike,

many-windowed frame

structure with

enveloping galleries (verandas), enclosed in a lawn of

moderate

size

ble gardens. It

and backing on flower and vegeta-

was

there

my

grandfather, reading

the Courier-Journal on the garden gallery, voiced to

me his

sorrow over the defeat of John L. Sullivan by

James

J.

Corbett in 1892; there

I

helped stuff geese

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

9

with corn to fatten them for Christmas dinner, and shared, though not with her calm,

my grandmother's

discovery of a rattlesnake in the pantry shelves.

But the house on the Burkesville Pike of

town



my Washington Hill

me

this is as familiar to

apartment

now.

is

at the

edge

in retrospect as

on Ritter

It sat

and thus was known as the Ritter Place, Judge

Ritter's estate

having sold

it

my

to

grandfather.

A

by flower gardens,

long, tree-filled lawn, enriched

extended from a musket-barrel front fence to and

around the house, bisected by a driveway edged with maples which glowed

The

like torches in the

was dark-red

construction

autumn.

brick, faced

by

a

white-columned portico and white shutters. From the rear doors the land extended past a

pump,

a lye

hopper, a springhouse, an icehouse and a smokehouse, to the usual farm outbuildings (including a privy)

;

thence to fields of cane and pea vines, a large

melon-patch and stables and grazing meadows for horses and cattle.

The back boundary was

the Co-

lumbia Pike, heading for the town of that name, seat of

Adair County.

Except for the melon-patch

in

August, when the

succulent crop was so plentiful that

and

I

my

playmates

regularly got the bellyache trying to eat the

surplus before

it

was

fed to the certified swine of the

animal kingdom, the rain barrel beside the house

was the source

of

supreme

bliss.

Five feet high, wide-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

10

mouthed, wondrously crafted of bent wooden staves

and brass hoops, the rain barrel offered a wealth delights.

When

half-foot

boy could climb

it

was drought-empty, sides

its

of

a four-and-a-

and holler

into

it,

booming sound. When the water level in the barrel was sufficiently high, the women and girls of the family would dip out nature's elixir for washing hair (I am told on the best authority that no pharmaceutical compound is comparable)

making

a glorious

Sometimes, a sense of deep Victorian guilt highly visible

on her face, a family female would dip out

enough rainwater

for the lascivious luxury of a bath.

But discovery evoked such

was not soon

dation

The wide

a protest that the depre-

repeated.

front door of the residence opened

hall,

upon

a

reaching from the front to the back door,

with a "parlor," dining room, kitchen and pantry on the right, also an office-study, and a

on the

left

where most

huge

living

of the family life

was

room con-

The two upstairs many bedrooms re-

ducted around a vast fireplace. floors

were complexes of the

quired by so large a family. But our only bathroom,

whose

was a very large porcelain tub on bronze lion claws, was a large closet off the kitchen and pantry to which the hot water was sole furniture

brought by hand.

So

far as

we boys were

was minimal —

concerned,

its

daily use

the pitchers and washbasins in our

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG bedrooms

sufficing for the light toilet

tomary, especially I

in

11

which was cus-

summer, among barefoot boys.

describe this toilet as "light" because, as

remember,

tinctly

and

face

my own

I

consisted of washing

dis-

my

pants with cross-

feet, slipping into a pair of

braces, and, thus accoutered, climbing out of

my

window onto the tin eaves above the front portico and sliding down a column to land on a sward fresh with morning dew.

common

In addition to the fireplace, the rooms, the living

Franklin stove

to nearly all

room was further heated by

when

the weather

w as

a

inclement.

r

my grandfather had a special chair,

There

so had my room was lighted lamps with green shades, making it a

grandmother; and

by many

oil

at nightfall the

most agreeable place

to converse, read,

pretend to

study, and engage surreptitiously in horseplay until

commanded phones

in the

just outside.

when

to leave off.

One

of the earliest tele-

county was screwed onto the hall wall

And among my

a lightning storm

was

vivid

memories

would often emit from the instrument and harmless self-extinction

The had

is that,

in progress, a ball of fire

at the

end of the

skitter to

hall.

"parlor," used only for important

company,

a fireplace with silver-framed mirrors

above the

marble mantel; and, for furniture, chairs and sofas upholstered in horsehair that were more pleasant to slide

down than

sit

on, a high-napped carpet

and an

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

12

upright piano. Small fry were forbidden to enter this palatial

found less

apartment save by invitation, but ways were

to disobey this injunction

found

The

with impunity un-

out.

was in Glasgow, in the Nineteen Fifties, this house was the headquarters of the Barren County Board of Education, and I had difficulty in finding my way about, even to my little room over the portico. But, of all the memories crowding upon me, one, so given to vagary is the human mind, was outstanding: my uncle Edward, years my senior, dancing about the stove in the living room in his time

last

I

nightgown and chanting a kind

of rune of his

devising: u

Bo-shee, bo-shee, bo-shee hah

Ouch!

I

burned



my bo-shee bah!"

(For "bo-shee" read "behind.")

own

Chapter Three

The new begun

south to

in

my

boyhood had not even

supplant the Old South either eco-

nomically or socially. Hence opportunity to better

drew

oneself steadily

male and female, I

went

to

young white

off the

to cities near

Washington,

of the Louisville

in

and

far.

adults,

the time

1910, as the correspondent

my

Times, three of

sought their fortunes

By

Far Northwest; three

in the

Louisville; one in Chicago, to

long since repaired; one in

uncles had

my

which

New

in

parents had

Orleans and one

in

Baltimore.

But

in

my early years most of the

family

still

lived

together in a house large enough to accommodate

We were more than a dozen at table; staple

articles

goods,

etc.,

my

as

basic

clothing,

and as for such grains,

canned

grandfather ordered them in large

consignments. "By the carload,"

my playmates, but this was

I

used

to boast to

an exaggeration.

This large personnel exemplified the family tern of the time

it.



as an example,

my

pat-

grandfather

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

14

his first wife,

Of these, six~ were borne by Marinda Nevil Turner, in Metcalfe

County (three

of

sired fifteen children.

by

whom

died in infancy), and nine

my grandmother. Marinda Turner's surviving children were named

Cornelia Belle, Victoria Regina and Frederick flecting

on

my



re-

grandfather's part both a sense of his

German origins and a devotion (incomprehensible to me) to the lackluster House of Hanover which gave Britain

its

monarchs

after

Queen Anne. This

same tendency appeared, with two exceptions,

naming of my mother,

in the

Caroline, and her brothers.

Frederick, the eldest of the brood, had married

Mary

the town beauty,

Dickey, before

and he lived across the pike.

man, educated bilt,

and

it

at the

He was

I

was born,

a large, bland

Naval Academy and Vander-

was he who

directed

my

reading to the

English and French literary masters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. half-sisters

were

also

rooftree. Victoria

My

married and

mother's two

left

the paternal

Regina lived with her growing

family in another part of town. Cornelia Belle had

become mentally deranged, the which at

lost

result of an accident

her the sight of an eye, and was a patient

an institution.

But her

fate

had not

affected a congenital trait

of plain speaking, as witness the following colloquy

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG one day, when her

sister Victoria

15

Regina was

visiting

my childless Aunt Belle: "Vic,

how many children have you?"

"Six."

"You slut!"

The

street accident

which cost Aunt Belle her

eye was a consequence of one of the episodes of violence that occurred

when some

of the citizens

had

imbibed too much bourbon or moonshine whiskey,

At

a frequent event of Saturday night in those times. that period the family

was

living on the Court

House

Square; and in front of the dwelling was a

where guests could disembark and hitch

stile

their horses.

My aunt was sitting on the stile, awaiting the arrival of a beau,

when

broke out in the roadway

a fight

among some drunks. They fell to rock-throwing, and one

errant missile

struck her on the temple, the expense being the loss of her right eye.

An unhappy

guese nobleman —

at least

proof claimed the proud vated the

damage

marriage with a Portuhe said he was and

name

of

in

d'Acosta — aggra-

to the delicate structures of the

cranium. Her husband vanished into the distances

whence he came, and her condition deteriorated the point

where only an

to

institution could provide

proper care.

The house on

the Square lives vaguely in

my

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

16

memory,

for

was

I

burned down.

I

less

than

recall that

it

five-

was

when

years old

spacious;

it

remem-

I

ber the white-trimmed Georgian brick facade and,

when

resummon

I

its

aspects from the long, long

past, several others are especially clear.

One was

the parlor (living

room)

which

in

my

grandfather sat of evenings reading his newspaper

under the light of one of the green-shaded



a light

I still

ticated devices

oil

lamps

think superior to any of the sophis-

which have supplanted

particularly clear

remembrance

flower garden which, under

my

Another

it.

of the expansive

is

grandmother's green

thumb, became a thing of fame and wondrous beauty, with box-edged alleys, a

lily

pond and a small

Once her Marechal Neal rosebushes bore more than seven hundred blooms at the same time. In evoking the lamplit parlor I remember an evening when I, having equipped myself with a pair of grotto.

small shears, sitting as usual at feet

my

and becoming entranced with the white

stripes of his trousers

six inches.

With such

this act that

done.

I

up

to

quiet devotion did

no one noticed until the

forget

vertical

which alternated with black

ones, carefully fringed the bottoms

I

grandfather's

I

fell

what the punishment was;

at

perhaps

perform

deed was

any

rate,

did not repeat the sacrilege.

Such

recollection as

I

have of the house on the

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG Square has persisted for two

17

final reasons.

Next

to

it

was the Glasgow Hotel, and when I was about four years old there was an oil strike a few miles from town and the hotel was crowded with pectors and other operatives of the

drillers, pros-

limited by family ukase to short visits

fascinating strangers,

Having announced I

stretched

I

that

I

knew

all

Though among these

field.

my

permission.

the latest songs,

found myself their favorite guest; and, encourage-

ment

sang

forthcoming,

them.

Annie

"Little

Rooney," "Sweet Rosie O'Grady," "A Bicycle Built

Two," "After The Ball" and "My Coal Black Lady" were very popular items in my repertoire.

for

The

oilmen, being then as

habits, took

up

a collection for

formance, repeated all

now generous

and

unwilling)

it

it

me

the day

after the first per-

regularly thereafter (I not at

was not long before

secreted a hoard of about three

Dark was

in their

hundred

when my grandmother,

I

had

dollars.

discover-

ing conduct she considered no better than that of a professional beggar, ordered

me to return

the money.

But since there was neither means nor disposition

among the oilmen to calculate what amount belonged to whom, was commanded to give the money to a fund for indigent citizens. Which I am sure with I

resentment





I

did.

Deceit and stupidity on

my own

part were respon-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

18 sible for

my

secret hoard. that, I

though

knew when

grandmother's discovery that

The I I

deceit

was

I

had

a

attributable to the fact

had persuaded myself took the oilmen's

to the contrary,

money

was

I

violat-

ing her stern rule against the acceptance of gifts of value from "strangers."

my of

The

stupidity consisted of

choice of a hiding place for the money: the roots

some rosebushes

in

my

grandmother's garden.

Since she was a most diligent gardener, ordinary juvenile intelligence ceal the

would have counseled me

money anywhere but among her

to con-

At

roses.

my criminal career insofar as I can recall the events of my childhood. The final reason for my remembrances of this house was supplied by my eldest uncle, Fred. We any

rate, the incident

ended

had been safely evacuated

at the

outbreak of the

which eventually destroyed the house, but,

fire

at the

height of the blaze, he rushed back into the building. Horrified, the watchers speculated on

explain this act of apparent heroism.

what could

Was

there a

missing brat? No, the count of small fry was complete.

Had

he, realizing that his Annapolis uniform,

or sword, or dirk, or

some

priceless jewel

on the premises, decided to risk his

life

remained

for its sal-

vage?

The

solution of the mystery

was not long

in

coming. Fred emerged in a few seconds, slightly

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

19

singed as to hair and bearing a book in about the

same

condition. Later

it

so.

learned the book's

title,

but

much later did I understand why he The book (illustrated) was Fanny Hill.

not until very prized

I

Chapter Four

My when he

grandfather,

laid

down

the law, obedience

by most

pected and promptly

rietta"

fulfilled.

for ex-

His wife invariably

him she was "Henjust "Ma." He had made his Mississippi to Kentucky from his father's

— sometimes

in

bearded,

— even — was

of his elders

him "Mr. Morris," and

way up the house

slender,

ruled the "roast" with a gentle hand, but,

this child spoiled

called

tall,

New

to

Orleans with a pack on his back and

become the leading merchant and unofficial banker in Glasgow after brief storekeeping in Hart County (at Three Springs) and in Metcalfe County (at Edmonton). At Edmonton he had married Marinda Nevil a small

amount

of silver in his pocket to

Turner, and, after her early death, had moved to

Glasgow. In resisting an attack during the

War

Between

town by QuantrelPs infamous who preyed on both Confederate and

the States on the guerrillas,

Union

citizens,

my

grandfather

had

developed

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG asthma from exposure

in

2\

the canebrakes, also a

minor gunshot wound which troubled him the of his

rest

Eventually he died of the combination, so

life.

asthmatic that he passed his last months sitting upright in an invalid chair, his long-ago-wounded foot

corrupted by gangrene beyond the medical

skill of

those times to dispel.

But

until his invalidism

he was one of the most

members

active, as well as prosperous,

of the

com-

munity: chairman of the Fiscal Court, and thereby invested with the lifetime of the largest

title

of "Squire"; proprietor

and most modern and diversified store

owner

of the buildings on the

Square

with "The Morris Block" carved on their

lintels;

in the area;

and benefactor

Negroes,

to the poor, particularly

with non-interest-bearing loans and donations.

He came

of largely

and Alsace-Lorraine, formal worship

Jewish stock and,

in that faith

had

ritual

it.

Since he regularly

I

Prussia

and other

been feasible

munity without a synagogue, would, practiced

in rural

in a

com-

suppose, have

made business

trips

on horseback to Louisville, a hundred and ten miles distant,

he

his aunts

may

well have gone to church there.

were educated

in the

But

convent school of the

ancient French cathedral of St. Trophime, at Aries.

And no cially so

was impressed on me as a child, espebecause my father was a freethinker, and I

creed

drifted into agnosticism without exposure to ritual

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

22

or other observances involving

commitment

to

any

denomination.

But the consequence was that I grew up without knowledge of one of the most ancient cultures. Of the races of man, only three the Hebrews, the Brah-



mins

of India

and the Chinese

— who were

in antiquity, projected their civilization into

times.

The

civilized

modern

present inhabitants of Egypt, Italy and

Greece respectively do not descend from the people the

of

Pharaohs, the Roman-Etruscans and the

Greeks. And, though the wandering tribes of Israel were, of course, more or less mongrelized through

made

the ages in proportion to the use

women by contemptuous overlords, even quarterings of world's definition.

Hebrew blood

And by

a

of their

Caucasian with

is

a

Jew by

the

that definition a direct

heir to one of the three cultures

which have survived

antiquity.

The

definition

nic group

On

is

unique in that

it

identifies

an eth-

by creed, whether or not long forsaken.

the other hand, such populations as those of

Spain and Sicily

— conglomerate

ethnic mixtures



by nationality and geography. Many stories were told of my grandfather in the community where he was greatly admired and respected, of which I remember one in particular. When the financial panic of 1873 struck, Barren County was not spared the intense pressure of crediare defined

WHEN YOUNG

MYSK1.1

everywhere

tors

to salvage

some

23

of their loans, and,

word spreading that my grandfather was bankrupt, he had to take measures to prevent the report from becoming a reality. He gathered all the paper currency he could lay his hands on, made a large ball of it and went on horseback among his creditors throughout the county. To each he said, showing the roll, "I understand you are afraid you won't get your money back, so I can pay you now if you want the

me

to." In

and thus survived the

trary

The

roll,

than by or

every instance he was assured to the con-

its

however, was more impressive by

with

its size

had covered the ninety was composed of one-dollar

content. For he

more percent

bills

crisis.

of

it

that

bills of large

denomination, and the sight

of these dispelled the anxiety of the creditors.

any others

tually they, as well as

became indebted, were repaid

to

in full

whom

Even-

he ever

with the interest

due.

My

grandfather spoke with the soft accent of the

South where his

life

developed into what

was

a

was is

asthma

spent. Until his

now termed emphysema, he

pipe-smoker and chewed tobacco; drank three

"toddies" of bourbon

gourd"

— each

country songs

— with

day on in

u

a fixed

a little

sugar

in the

schedule; and sang

the family circle.

It

was

his un-

at

home,

though he often brought business associates

to the

broken rule never to discuss "business"

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

24

noonday meal



particularly those

On

were called "drummers."

grandmother told

me

who

in that

time

one such occasion,

my

years afterward, he embar-

When

rassed her as follows:

"What

finished he asked her,

main course was

the

we having

are

for

change?" But that day, most unusually, she had none.

should explain

I

that

Barren County

in

"change" was the term for dessert. called this

While

anywhere

I

never heard

it

else.

my grandfather was the unquestioned head was

of the family, his wife

the equally unquestioned

head of the household, a larger and even more de-

manding occupation.

involved feeding, bedding,

It

disciplining, doctoring

and administering the con-

duct and morals of a large brood that included the three surviving children of the six borne to

grandfather by his

first

my

wife, and the nine (eight

which

sons and one daughter)

my

grandmother

To

these responsibilities she added the role of

unofficial

nursing assistant to our family doctor

bore.

when some poor family

in

some emergency need

for medical care, especially

town or

in the

country had

obstetrical.

In response to her sense of duty to humanity, she

helped the doctor deliver so

many babies,

self-trained

though she was, and regardless of the hour, that she was, in effect, godmother to a population. Yet the

bunch

of locker keys she carried at her waist

was

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

25

testimony to the extent of her detailed supervision of her large private

My

domain.

grandmother came

same German-

the

of

her husband — her

Jewish stock as

surname was

Frank. But her features and coloring suggested a

wider strain than his of the Teutonic. Also she was of the I

town and he

of the country.

was only seven when

his forebears

my

She

told

grandfather died

were farmers and cattlemen

— —

me in

for

that

Prussia

and Alsace, while, as aforesaid, her grandfather was a burgomeister in Bavaria.

She had been beautiful when young and was

still

when I became aware that the lady who was rearing me was not my mother but my grandmother. Her brow was broad, her hair chestnut in color, her eyes light brown and lambent, her nose what is termed Roman, her figure slenderly handsome

in

her

fifties

rounded, her voice modulated. Harassed as she constantly yell at

was by eight

active sons,

I

never heard her

them, but she could speak with cutting and

effective firmness

when

the occasion warranted.

She was the source of my information on how she met my grandfather. She was living with relatives in Louisville, she said,

eighteen

these

relatives

set

and when she turned

upon matchmaking.

Their candidate was a young widower, with three

young children, who had gow and a rising position

a prospering store in Glasin the

community. He was

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

26

described to her as attractive, kind and of the highest character.

And,

after this conditioning

some months,

for

my

had gone on

grandfather appeared and be-

gan his courting. I

gathered that they

quickly in love (a good

fell

thing, because obviously he

had

little

time to spare

before returning to his family and his business),

were soon married, and

set

up housekeeping

in Glas-

gow. However practical the considerations of both

may have been

at the

beginning, this was a love

match unmarred, insofar as anyone who knew them remembers, even by the hard words of minor quar-

common to marriage. reportorial instinct failed me

rels that are

My

in

one particular

where she was concerned, because, though

my

early thirties

when

I

was

in

she died in her nineties,

I

never asked where she acquired the Latin tags

which, with proverbs both sacred and profane, she

used

to

fit

arising situations.

tion is that she

The

had something

tion in the classics.

of a

But she spoke

possible explana-

European educaand

in the accent

vernacular of our area, interspersed with ringing

Anglo-Saxon epithets such as "slut" for certain males

fe-

whom she suspected of "carrying on."

Apparently, as the rude country saying

"dropped" her nine offspring, for until she old, there

was no physical slackness about

is,

she

was very her.

And

the only evidence she ever gave of wanting public

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

27

appreciation of the help to others she gave so gen-

was her occasional reference to the fact that she had been introduced to William Jennings Bryan

erously

as "Glasgow's angel."

In her old age, she often searched vainly for spectacles that she

had lodged above her own

hairline,

when one of her sons appeared, would remember his name only after she had gone through the and,

process of a countdown from the eldest. She broke

her hip in her late eighties but became ambulant again in a few months, to take to her bed permanently only ninety-five.

when

she lay dying something short of

Chapter Five

Being

the firstborn

of

my

grandfather's

"second get," the only female of nine,

my

mother was treated as a precious object by her brothers: though her

name was

Caroline, to

them

was known as "Dolly," inspired by the heroine of Dickens's Barnaby Rudge. She was a petite brunette; her face was not as pretty as it was pleasing; she was gifted with a grace of manner, a soft, melodious voice and a gentle spirit. However violent the she

quarrels

among her brothers,

they were on their good

behavior in her presence. Her education was light, and in the subjects deemed appropriate for young ladies of the time



art,

music, riding, poetry and

Victorian fiction. But remarkably, in view of her

mother's array of household talents

— which

ex-

tended to producing yarn and thread on a spinning

wheel

sew

— she could embroider, but

at the

The and

neither cook nor

time of her marriage, and never well.

eight brothers differed strongly in personality

tastes,

but

all

were possessed of physical courage

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG



29

esteemed and essential

a quality both highly

community where blood ran

Southern

maybe does. Herman, the eldest, shared with

in a

and

hot,

still

his half-brother

Frederick the best education of any: what

now would

be called prep school and then the university. Her-

man was tall, well built, good-looking, charming, and he made use of the latter quality with girls to a degree that would have earned him the description of "parlor snake"

had that term yet been invented.

Herman was bred

to the

law

at the

University of

Virginia, standing high in his class, and, until in

middle age he removed to Louisville from Glasgow,

was

active in politics.

town, becoming larity

was

munity

offend,

its first city

as great in the

— some

tation as a

of

man whom

some

very popular in the

attorney,

Negro

and his popu-

as in the white

it

was physically dangerous

to

for his active concern for the welfare of

gambling

at

Had

it

not been for his passion

high stakes he might have risen to

leadership in state politics and at the bar.

passion eventually in

com-

deriving from his earned repu-

it

the underprivileged. for

He was

submerged

But

this

his promising career

an overwhelming tide of debts he could not

re-

deem.

To me

this uncle

was

a

and discriminating guide

dashing figure; also a kind to

reading which nourished

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

30

my young mind,

a source of perceptive kindness and

understanding.

But the uncle whom I most desired to emulate was his immediate younger brother, Edward. Edward was equally beloved inside the family and in the community for the plenitude of gifts nature had bestowed on him. He was a delightful companion good-natured, witty, humorous and warm; his blue



eyes sparkled with merriment. his elder brother, he

with his

fists

shorter than

sturdier, very proficient

— but only when

him — and

upon

was

Though

their use

was

thrust

an even better local politician

(Democratic), witnessed by his election as Glasgow's

first

He was

mayor

after the

town was incorporated.

also fortunate in his marriage.

my Aunt Julia, was

the center of

my

His wife,

adoration from

boyhood, and her beauty, charm and ready laughter abide with me.

was

Her

father,

known

a Confederate veteran

tired of hearing explain

why

as

whom

"Pappy" Smith, the town never

he walked with a

list:

am full of Yankee bullets on my right side." When Aunt Julia, then a widow of many years, died in

"I

Seattle, to

she

which

me,

left

in

lace dress she

and which for kilts

The

I

had

my

uncle had removed his family,

testimony to our loving relationship, a

made

wore

for

until

me when

I

was one year

custom decreed that

old

my time

arrived.

third of

my

grandmother's sons, Julius, was

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

31

what would now be termed a "swinger." He was gay, witty, kind, tall, well muscled and born with the gift of laughter.

He

roved from one mercantile job to an-

other, his life ending in city his father

New

Orleans, from which

had started his pilgrimage

tucky. In the course of this itinerary

La Grange, Kentucky, Elizabeth

to

Ken-

he married,

at

Ballard, one of the

great beauties of her place and time.

Louis was slighter of stature than the run of his brothers, and one of those voice and

men whose

gentleness of

mien leave people unprepared

closure of a vein of iron

when

for the dis-

the necessity arises. In

his capacity as chief of the town's volunteer fire de-

partment he regularly risked injury and death, for his concept of a leader like

was

that he should lead

Lord Melbourne's cynical comment,

"I

— un-

am

their

must follow them." He was an accomplished horseman, and, next to his wife and children, his love was lavished on the best of the thoroughbreds he leader;

I

trained,

Lady

Belle, on

which he won blue ribbons

at

county fairs and quarter-mile tracks. His wife, born

Emma

Pedigo, of Huguenot ancestry, was so devout

communicant in the Baptist church that I was somewhat terrified of her godliness when I was small. But I learned in time to note and appreciate

a

that,

behind the beauty of a Spartan matron, were

deep

human compassion and

mor.

a strong sense of hu-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

32

Gus was made

them all. In a community where his father's integrity was cited to children as a model for emulation, Gus fully lived up to his ancestor in word and deed. His piercing blue eyes, under their heavy brows, did not, as Tennyson of the finest clay of

wrote of Wellington, "freeze with one rebuke

all

strong self-seekers trampling on the right"; for he

was

a withdrawn, private

But if came within his

business.

man who minded

his

own

a wrong, committed or proposed,

could freeze the

orbit, he, too,

of-

fender.

He

also

was endowed with

the physical courage

which ran through the family, plus a temper matched only by that of his younger brother Lee. In their

youth this pair often came their encounters

which

left

to blows,

Lee threw a knife

and

at his

one of brother

a lifetime scar. But, curiously, they were

particularly devoted to each other, and

who pleaded with pline to

in

which

his father to

for a time

it

was Gus

end the strong

disci-

Lee was subjected.

my Aunt Anne (Redding) ranked with my Aunt Julia in my affections throughout her life. His wife,

,

She was an ash-blonde beauty

of great grace

charm; her voice was as sweet as her nature. In

memory

and

my

these two aunts live as objects of brightness

and gaiety, and not only because they spoiled

me

rotten.

Lee's temperament

was

fiery, as

described, but he

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

33

understood with rare perception the longings of a boy, and

was proud

I

of his reputation as a

hunter and fisherman.

immediate

of build than his

And

shorter and sturdier

elder, but

as they did in anger,

trils flared,

scribed

He was

him

as formidable

he had

champion

I

when

his nos-

would have

de-

had known the word.

if I

good measure the wit, merriment and

in

compassion which were the characteristics of his brood.

Because

I

was nearer

of age to Joe,

I

knew him on

more intimate level than his older brothers. For some years we slept in the same bed; he guided me through some of the perplexities of adolescence; and, though I could not match his prowess in such athletic activities as football, bowling and the sports of

a

the field, he encouraged

was with

my

do

my

best.

When

I

And

after

he migrated to Seattle, and

Vancouver, we maintained a frequent corre-

spondence. ity,

to

parents in Chicago, Joe lived several

years with us. finally

me

As

I

think of him,

I

find that

magnanim-

gentleness, and unusual physical strength are

the impressions

I

most

clearly retain.

Max, the youngest of my uncles and nearest to me in age, was the gayest, though his physical courage was put to the test more often than that of any of his brothers. This was because the Semitic strain in his ancestry seemed to have concentrated by implanting

on him

its

most

definitive feature.

His nose, beaked

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

34 like

an eagle's, curved like a scimitar, was an invita-

tion to taunts

The

did Cyrano.

many

bore

which he result

dealt with as militantly as

was

that in his

boyhood he

scars of battle, but eventually none of his

contemporaries was more respected, a status to which a lethal skill in boxing contributed.

Max was

Glasgow baseball

the pitcher on the

team and a crap-shooter more even than the Negro boys

(

skilled

and daring

who were supposed

to

be

endowed with something akin to genius at the haza ard) He also was an imaginative teller of tales combination which impelled me to follow him around as my dog, Princess, followed me. Of his tales I principally recall one which in my childhood I firmly belived to be true, although snow and ice were rare in our climate. Max's idol was his much older brother Edward, who, he informed me, had skated on South Fork into Beaver Creek, then into the Big Barren



.

River, then into the Green, the Ohio, and the Mississippi

and so on

to

The thoughts

New Orleans. of youth are long, long thoughts,

wrote Mr. Longfellow, and mine dutifully followed

Uncle

Ed on

skates to

New Orleans, which may be

record for what the poet had in mind.

down when of

I

realized that the tale

I felt

was only

sadly

team

I

remember one game

let

a product

my youngest uncle's imagination. When Max was the pitcher of the Glasgow

ball

a

base-

in particular be-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

35

cause of a conversation that followed between him

my

and

father.

Max had

an assortment of fast balls

and curves that bewildered opposing batters,

weakness

though, because of

at the bat

and

its

al-

pitch-

games it should have won. On the occasion I remember my father asked him how many batters he had struck out. "Twentyseven," Max replied, and it was true. "But," said my er's

wildness, his team lost

father, "your

team

lost, didn't it?

How

could that

be?" Baseball experts can readily explain what would appear to be an impossibility: those on the rival team

who

didn't strike out got on base

through walks; ad-

vanced around the diamond on wild pitches and

Glasgow's errors; and Glasgow could not

due

to its feebleness

with what sportswriters used

Among my many panions were three

cousins

first

— Frank,

favorite

com-

in strutting

my

and one who had the cachet of

terim spans of city

life in

Chicago,

Frank was held up "good boy"

I

to

role in-

the metropolis of the Mis-

I

was something

tyrant, usually a benevolent one,

of a

my

Charles Wendell and

William Redding Morris. But as their senior,

to

1732715

term "the willow."

sissippi Basin,

retaliate

me

of a petty

though because

as the foremost

sometimes subjected him

example to light

tortures.

Both Frank and Charlie had sweet dispositions with which mine was constantly being unfavorably

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

36

compared by the

elders.

spent fnore time with

I

mind which

Charlie because he had a turn of eled in

my

rev-

romantic reconstructions of history and

the spoutings from the poets with

him. So the lower angels of

which

my nature,

if

I

favored

any angels

abide there, were not aroused by this cousin, and in lordly fashion

I

permitted him to follow

me

around.

William Redding Morris was ten years younger than I and a boy of daring. The result was that the tables

were turned where

cerned.

He jeered

this cousin

company

in



I

were con-

my calf-loves

once this took the

in a winter

remarkable in our

area for contributing a considerable snowfall

hurling snowballs

when

with an older

whom

with

my

girl

in the

And

very presence of the adored.

embarrassing form

at

and

trailing I

me



of

out walking

was trying

to

impress

sophistication.

way he was a spirited lad, and before he was twenty made national headlines by eloping with In every

the granddaughter of our richest and otherwise most

prominent

citizen.

His death

in the first flush of his

maturity put an abrupt end to his bright prospect of

being the toast of the town.

My in the

brood of

same

first

cousins had their

relationship.

Of

admiringly remember three

these

I

own broods

best and most

— Michael and Porter

Dickinson, brothers, and their cousin, Haiden Trigg Dickinson. Mike,

who

died early in Seattle,

was

a

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

37

prospective professional baseball pitcher of the rank. Porter

is

a

newspaper mogul

den Trigg served gallantly

World War

in the First

in the

as a

in

Honolulu. Hai-

United States Navy

gunnery

suicidal

Queenstown

He was

a legendary naval hero in the

ill-health forced his

patrol,

and

first

officer

in the

on the

China

seas.

making when retirement and brought him to

an early grave.

The

design of these boyhood reminiscences

is

to

expose for later generations the lifestyle of the family

and of a Southern community

in the setting of the

period. In pursuance of this design

some

of the principals

and their customs

greater detail. But with respect to little

my

much

in

father

I

have

of relevance to add.

He was migrated

ment

have etched

I

who had German seg-

the eldest child of a cartographer to

New

York City from the

of Silesia, the cockpit of the bloody

wars be-

tween Austria and Prussia, where the name Krock occurs more frequently than elsewhere, sometimes

with the variant of "Kroch"

mous bookstore



as spelled

proprietor (with

by the

whom my

fa-

father

discussed a possible but never-documented relationship).

My

paternal grandfather

must

also

have had

some connection with the Netherlands government because, according to his son, he drew the most de-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

38 tailed

map

of the islands of

Java and Sumatra that

existed in the first half of the nineteenth century.

my birth blinded my mother for the first six years of my life, and I accordingly was reared by her parents in Kentucky, and because my mother felt that my father's parents had not appreciated him, I knew little of my father's family, not even where my Because

paternal grandmother

But when

was born

or her

maiden name.

became conscious that a person had two sets of grandparents I was told that this other set lived in Brooklyn, and my father with them until, I

having learned the trade of bookkeeping, he got a job in Pittsburgh and, after meeting

moved

to

my

mother,

re-

Kentucky. There he would have remained

but for information that there was an eye surgeon in

Chicago who had perfected an operation which could (and did) restore that, after

my mother's

The

result

was

my father had established himself there in

a job of his trade, in time a small scale, I

sight.

becoming an accountant on

my mother joined him in Chicago.

continue to be mystified by the contrast between

exact and vague recollections where his family are concerned.

But

my

father and

of the following I

am

certain

My mother went on summer holiday to Put-In

Bay, Ohio, met

cation there

(

circa

my father, who was

1885 on va-

from Pittsburgh; they became engaged

and were soon thereafter married

in

Glasgow.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG Born

in

39

1859, and hence a child of the depression

subsequent to the

War

Between the

States,

my

fa-

ther did not attend college, but, through wide and

discriminating reading and the possession of a fine

mind, could be classified as a self-educated man.

had

a

good writing

style,

He

vented through the channel

of letters to the editor (the Courier-Journal princi-

pally); a photographic

memory,

particularly of the

writings of Shakespeare and the British Romantic poets; a fiery

temper (once he hurled out of doors a

him by losing time during bluenight); very good looks when young

clock which had betrayed the



black hair and eyes, a florid complexion and a graceful build;

an intense and cynical interest in politics

remember he once told me that James G. Blaine was "too intelligent to be President, even if he had cared more where his money came from") and sup(I

;

ported his wife and himself on a salary that never ex-

ceeded the subsistence

level.

But somehow

this level

included good food and whiskey, frequent journeys

by

streetcar to the racetracks for discreet two-dollar

wagers, and an evening or two a month

rooms (he was adept freethinker,



at the

which meant

game). Also, he was

in those

lived for ten years after

awaiting his

own

at

a

days an agnostic

a philosophy of the Creation that

He

in billiard

my

I

share.

mother's death,

seventy-nine with cheer and

comfort, in San Diego, where

I

arranged pleasant

ac-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

40

commodations (as I saw when I visited there) him and an elderly female attendant. In view of his interest in his distant origins, a riosity

wish

which skipped me but

for

cu-

my son has inherited,

I

my father could have been with me in Germany

after the

Second World War. For

in

Frankfurt a

Catholic priest in Goppingen, Wiirttemberg, after

some correspondence, brought to me a tall maedchen of his flock who wanted to migrate to the United States and looked to me for help because our surnames were the same.

Her

Walther Krock, had been a federal judge in Silesia from which he fled with his family from the advancing Poles. Her name was Adelgunde, and her blue eyes, golden braids and complexion of cream and roses were strikingly supplemental to the name. It would further have intrigued my father to know that Walther and Adelgunde were only two of more than a dozen Krocks, all from Silesia, who, having chanced on my name in the press, wrote to me during the Second World War from father,

places as distant as a prison

camp

of

German

sol-

England and a farm in South Dakota these Krocks had owned for generations. And my father, had he lived in Washington, most certainly would have made it a point to become acquainted with R. Temple Krock, who for years was a high civilian official in the Department of Defense. I never tried. diers in

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

41

Probably because his own dreams of fame and achievement never materialized, he was impatient with the

"You

silly

range of

my own

in

middle boyhood.

are one of those parlor generals," he

was wont

when I ventured some such nonsensical opinhow Napoleon could have won at Waterloo. And he was quick to hurl this epithet at anyone (es-

to

say

ion as

pecially an academician)

who, without practical

ex-

perience in public affairs, offered cocksure solutions

problems therein. That he was often guilty of

of the

the

same arrogance simply demonstrates the

common the

ways

to all

of

truth,

sound philosophy and experience, that

man

are the

most inconsistent among the

animals.

was to his own positiveness of what was right and what was wrong that I owe my given name: It

none

in the family, before or since,

When

I

was born

porarily estranged

my

father, a tariff

from his lifetime

has borne

it.

man, was tempolitical

hero

and mine, President Stephen Grover Cleveland. The reason was that the President, in his annual message to

Congress

in

1887, had assailed the practice and

principle of the protective tariff

by proposing the

near free-trade formula of the Mills Bill

passed the House but died in the Senate)

.

(which

My father

had once met President Chester Alan Arthur, and, apparently as an expression of his lingering resent-

ment over the Mills

Bill,

I

was named Arthur. By

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

42

election time in

my

1888

support of Cleveland, but

my handle to Grover

C. as

father it

I

was

had renewed

his

too late to restore

believe

was

the original

intention.

Why

I

was given

dropped) of Bernard

was nothing

name (long never knew for sure:

the middle I

ancestral about

it.

But

my

a citizen of Fredericksburg, Virginia,

father

who

since

there

knew

in

my

hearing he described as the beau ideal of the Tide-

water Virginia gentleman. Bernard.

And his name was Arthur

Chapter Six

a household which included eight sons and In several a small grandsons, on land the edge of

at

was inevitable that a host of domestic animals and some creatures from the wild would be part of the family establishment. Our menagerie, when I was growing up in Barren County, Kentucky, in the Nineties, was composed of numerous dogs, as many caged town and extending

into the country,

it

raccoons and possums, a brace of talkative and insolent crows, a

vehicle

gamecock, horses for the plough, the

and the saddle, and now and then an indig-

nant incarcerated fox. Such cats as there were

among

the occupants of this zoo lived in "the Quarters"

(where "the help" resided), along with several hounds.

The

cats

fox-

were the working members of the

animal kingdom, the gendarmes of rodent control.

That lvanhoe was the inspiration of our tiltings derived more from Mark Twain than from the Waverley Novels. But these and Sir Walter's poetry were favorites we sampled with equal

relish,

and

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

44

even Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe was no greater hero than Roderick Dhu.

"Come

From

claimed. "This rock shall fly/

soon as I"

— providing

its

we

all!"

de-

firm base as

ourselves with the indicated

backstop. So popular a hero

The Lady

come

one,

was

the rebel chieftain

on pets throughout the county.

name was bestowed Hence it was most

appropriate, "in," and timely for

my champion

of

cock to be

of the

Lake

that his

named for him. Dhu was famous

Roderick so, for

my

could, and did,

victorious battle against any rooster he encoun-

He

could,

hens and those of other

mark

aries of his

loud and

and

did,

citizens,

by the

haughty

He

shrill,

favor.

not only at

ick detested the

company

husband

all

our

being received with

of appreciation

sense of timing impelled

it

He

of his gallant species.

tered in the area.

every

and justly

in the land,

four reasons, the fourth being unique in

knowledge

wage

game-

tittering benefici-

could,

and

did,

crow

dawn, but whenever his

him

to.

But, fourth, Roder-

of his species

and shunned

except for amorous visitations. Instead, he selected

the house as his general abode, and, after several efforts to lodge

him

at

night in the roost outside, he

was allowed his preference. This raised an obvious problem. But both

grandmother and Roderick were equal a sand-filled

plained

its

box

in

an open closet

purpose

to

to

it.

my

She put

off the kitchen, ex-

Roderick with magic words

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

45

incomprehensible to any but the two principals, and

when

thence he never failed to repair

seized

by

cer-

tain natural urges.

have known

I

many

roosters on varying terms of

intimacy, even participated in

gamecocks the opportunity tal

I

the

came, he met

was

of a household

it

common summons with dignity and

my

and

fruitfully.

of all earthlings

taste:

he was found

deceased grandfather's spe-

His age, as nearly as we could calculate,

thirteen.

served, in

member

lived long, happily

dead on the seat of cial chair.

be a

to

or heard about that

be acceptable in every way.

to

This noble bird

And when

to indulge their congeni-

was acquainted

nominated himself

and learned

available to

But Roderick Dhu was the only

love of combat.

one with which

making

my

He was

buried, with the honors he de-

grandmother's flower garden, under a

rosebush.

Rock was about twelve years old when he was imported to Virginia from England in 1730 to Bull

stand at stud. His multitudinous progeny inaugurated the great expansion in the breeding and racing of

thoroughbreds that

now

are a leading

American

industry-cum-sport. But for various reasons,

them

among

the facts that the eighteenth century's westering

pioneers brought thoroughbreds with them over the

mountains, and found the limestone water and blue-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

46

grass pasture of Kentucky ideal to the purpose, our

Commonwealth supplanted Virginia

as the capital of

the blood horse and has continued to be.

Though

Kentucky Bluegrass

the

area, centered in

Woodford

Fayette, Bourbon, Franklin, Scott and counties,

is

the royal seat of the thoroughbred,

all

but the mountain areas of the state are his provinces,

and

my native Barren

indeed

— was least



or, if

County was one

Poor

of them.

not poor, certainly queer in our sight

the family which possessed no horse with at

an asserted trace of the blood of Bull Rock, Sir

Archy, Priam, Bonnie Scotland or Lexington. since

we were

neither poor nor eccentric

be bereft of the inbred

grew up with

Kentucky

enough

love of horses,

which remain

several

And

in loving

to I

mem-

ory.

The

irony

is,

however, that the best-blooded of

these did not return

my

love.

He was

Selim

— an

Arab, as his name suggests, purported to be descended from Admiral Tryon's Asil, which

Newmarket

in the 1770's.

saddle horse, which nity. Yet, as if

in

My uncles

won

the

used him as a

was something beneath

his dig-

he were familiar with certain maxims

Al Koran, he usually submitted

to this use with-

out the snorting, kicking and rearing that at times

seemed

to derive

great stake races

from

a subconscious recollection of

won by his

ancestors.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

My

47

head crammed with "Mazeppa," "The

silly

Rushan Beg" and such poetic glorifications of the Arab horse, I was distressed to be informed by my uncles that Selim was a gelding. And, since I had Leap

of

assured

town that he was

the boys in

all

a stallion

The Arabian Nights, I had to endure amount of ribbing when the evident truth

straight out of a certain

was pointed

out.

Gelding or no,

humbler

in

aggressiveness tow ard horses of r

lineage, in beauty of pace

was conceded by

road, Selim

they were

many and

and form on the

the local experts (and

they were good ) to be "a

lot of

horse." His eventual acquiescence, therefore, to a utilitarian

duty

in his

and

my

grandfather's old age

was

an abiding wonder in our community. This duty was to transport

my

grandfather in our surrey to and

from his place of business several times a day.

Somehow appearing to understand the necessity of the condescension quite lame

— my grandfather having grown

— Selim allowed himself

to

be harnessed

and backed within the shafts of the surrey. Led the gate, he

would stand quietly

— whom he loved above his

way aboard

my

until his

others



passenger

painfully

made

the front seat. Then, without any di-

rection of the reins, he in front of

all

to

would

trot gently to the stile

grandfather's office-store, and, after

ascertaining his charge had safely debarked, return

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

48

with the empty carriage to his stable until the hour

came

to fetch his

master



a timetable

which Selim

knew and observed precisely. This was my first case of unrequited love, though Ovidian in nature. But in my own old age I still cherish the consolation that in his last years Selim

had come

briefly to tolerate the laying of

my hand on

his imperial neck.

I

do not remember any of the cats

specifically.

None was admitted to the house, and it was not until much later in my life that I learned to appreciate these animals



their fascinating mixture of love

and indifference, and the rippling beauty of muscular construction. Not until the time

come

a

newspaper executive

young family and ation

a house of

in Louisville,

my own,

and love for cats begin, with a

I

their

had be-

and had a

my

associ-

drifter

named

did

Grimalkin.

The

line

ended

in

Washington and Virginia

in

the Nineteen Forties with two extraordinary felines a

Siamese of imperial lineage which we called Puss-

Pants because her name in Mandarin that Rosamond Pinchot gave her in the cattery was too long for

call-

ing and too Chinese to pronounce; and James

Mc-

Near, a short-haired Persian, a very great gentle-

man.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

The dogs

my

of

49

childhood were: a pack of St.

Bernards, both short- and long-haired, varying in

number because Moxie and produced large

litters

Princess, the matriarchs,

with the cooperation of Kain-

and

tuck, long-haired, a prolific sire

a

London dog-

show winner; Nero, a black Newfoundland; a hassle of

hounds

of the chase;

and Bright. This Bright,

short-haired fox terrier, a feist

if

ever there

was

a

one,

took advantage of his size to tyrannize over the St.

Bernards.

He w as r

further encouraged by

some mem-

bers of the family in his outrageous performances

— snarling

made kind advances, and yapping

shrilly

by his master,

when they

the big dogs

at

my

from

stealing

their

foolishly

meat bowls,

when they were being

caressed

best friend, beloved mentor and

companion, Dan Smiley.

Dan was of an angel.

number

a tall,

He

sinewy

man

with the disposition

took care of the family's needs in a

of outdoor capacities

and was available

light butlering, too. Insofar as the

for

boys of the house-

hold were concerned he was the most important of all.

He was

deeply versed in the lore of the

the forest: he instructed us

and draw the bow"

all

— those

how

field

and

to "ride, shoot

"three useful things"

which, according to Byron, were taught by the ancient Persians.

Dan's cabin

favorite gathering place.

in the

backyard was our

And, though not

sembling the drawings of Uncle

Remus

at all re-

that adorned

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

50

the immortal book by Joel Chandler Harris, he

was

a spinner of tales about the creatures in the animal

kingdom that moved us into a state of bliss. So that Bright, when he appointed himself as Dan Smiley's special dog, acquired an undeserved prestige he un-

made the most of. Dan Smiley was a genius in

pleasantly

the rearing and hand-

ling of dogs, hunting dogs in general in particular.

and foxhounds

Since Barren County, under the leader-

ship of Colonel Haiden C. Trigg, a banker and our

was the breeding center for the hounds in which the Walker and Trigg strains were fused, Dan's talent made him a very respected member of the community. Eventually, when our household dispersed to the four winds, he was appointed kennelman-in-chief for the Barren County pack. And when he died in the fullness of years, the whole comleading citizen,

munity and hunters from afar followed his casket the grave.

Of

deeply than

all

I



those present none

to

mourned more

not for the gifted sportsman, but

and gentle patron

for the friend, teacher

of

my

lost

youth. I

have mentioned the

sire of

our

St.

Bernard, Kain-

tuck, and that he once

won

London

by my Uncle Ed,

— taken

a prize in a

dog show

in

ownership was reluctantly conceded.

whom his Among us he

was familiarly known

lived long

beneficently.

there

as

Tuck, and he

When my

moved

uncle

to

and

his family to

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

Summer

Shade,

from Glasgow,

in

I

Metcalfe County, sixteen miles

repeated visits to that village.

complimentary

There were a

all

in

And

that

I

paid

our reunions were

his breed are suffused with af-

Tuck's ebullience

fection,

much

missed Tuck so

joyous, for, though

51

was

in greeting

my experience with

the most

a host of dogs.

when close to dog bore down his large

certain hazards involved

hundred pounds

of rearing

paws on the shoulders

of a seventy-pound

which flowed

licked his face with a tongue

boy and

like Phile-

mon's pitcher, practically inundating the object of

No such problems arose when Tuck joined me as my sleeping companion in the feather bed my Aunt Julia allotted to me. He was a most considerate his love.

bedfellow. His

first

idea of this relationship

was

ex-

pressed by getting under the cover with me. But, effectively

discouraged by

my

aunt

when

she dis-

covered Tuck's head on the pillow, he consented thereafter to sleep on the cover at the foot. In our

outdoor ramblings, he needed no lesson For, except

when we

in discipline.

accidentally flushed a quail, or

another dog indicated a challenge of the right-of-

way, Tuck behaved with dignified reserve.

This manner he maintained even

which

in

sion of

my

boyhood were

Summer Shade



at the cockfights

Sunday morning diverafter church. But once I a

thought Tuck carried dignity too

far,

that St. Bernards are supposed to be

considering

— and usually

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

52 are

and



the guardians of youth from exterior danger

interior folly.

My

best friend in

Word, who to visit.

On

Summer Shade was farm which

lived on a

the occasion

I

speak

my

delight

we were

explor-

was

it

of,

Cleveland

ing the barn and came upon a large sack of bran.

being well cious,

known

to

we decided to

down

us that cattle found bran

It

deli-

share their pleasure, and washed

a goodly quantity of the

feed with large

draughts of water. Tuck lay languidly watching as

we

ate

and drank,

for

which

I

reproached him when,

inevitably, the combination of bran

panded

violently in our stomachs

and water

ex-

and we twisted on

the barn floor in pain. It

wasn't too long until nature relieved us with a

visceral explosion that

blow the roof

off

cate concern.

But

seemed powerful enough

the barn. this

Only then did Tuck

was the one time

and loving relationship that he

in

failed to live

to

indi-

our long

up

to the

reputation of the all-round protector of children which

legend attributes to his species.

Chapter Seven

Although the village of Summer Shade was l.

only sixteen miles from Glasgow, the jour-

ney thereto by public transportation consumed a

whole forenoon

in

normal weather conditions.

this public transportation



was

And

the fulfillment of a

dream a bright-red stagecoach with yellow wheels, drawn by four chestnut horses! Its regular run was from Glasgow, east by south, to Burkesville, the seat of Cumberland County, on the Tennessee line, Summer Shade being a stop on the way. I still recall the thrill which suffused my being

boy's

when,

\\

ith

Tom

Shelby or his brother

the gleaming coach

drew up

at the reins,

to load this small pas-

made even more adventurous by Burkesville Road was a deeply rutted

senger for a journey the facts that

streak of red clay, and there

was always

that the fords of Boyd's, Skaggs's

a chance

and Fallen Tim-

ber creeks would mire the coach in their sandy bot-

toms, or be covered by flash floods. In the latter event only the expertness of the Shelby brothers

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

54

could prevent the coach from being swept into deep water.

On all the occasions of my visits to Summer Shade, however, whichever of these hazards that developed

was safely negotiated. But once I decided to return to Glasgow by another means of transportation, a lumber wagon without springs. It was a day's ride, and my bottom retained painful memories of it for at least a

I

week.

do not know whether the Barren County Hunt

has since acquired the pink coats of the chase that

were

set in the

English tradition as proper equip-

huntsman and the farmers who opened their land to the sport. Nor do I know whether

ment

for all but the

the Virginia gentlemen in the seventeenth and eight-

eenth centuries,

who

rode out after the fox from

Westover, Shirley, Carter's Grove or the two Brandons, included pink coats in the raiment they or-

dered from London.

But fox-hunting

in

Barren County

in

my boyhood

involved neither the traditional English dress nor the galloping after

Reynard

until

"found," "killed" or "stole away."

he was "viewed,"

The

hunters would

assemble on horseback in the twilight, place, bringing the

hounds along

at a given

in carts

and wag-

ons; also a generous supply of bourbon whiskey.

They would

then proceed to the top of a

hill

com-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

55

manding the topography, leaving the hounds and their handlers at the foot. Moonrise was the ideal time for the hunt to begin as soon as an accommodating fox was viewed or scented by the hounds and handlers below. Then, with ears attuned to the music of the horn and the racing pack, the hunters would fall to

pleasant drinking until the hunt below culmi-

nated one

way or

another.

This leisurely

sport,

fox-hunting only for the

hounds and those who handled them, usually lasted

Which was taken as sufficient explanation for the absence now and then of married members of the hunt who were notoriously henpecked.

until

moonset.

Not

until a

boy reached his middle teens was he

likely to be allowed to join the

the

men on

the hilltop or

kennelmen below, not so much because the

called

hunt took place

at

night as because

much

so-

whis-

key was consumed. But boys needed only their parents'

permission to join in the hunt for the possum

and the coon, and these were far more enjoyable periences. Moreover, the boys, black

ex-

and white, were

essential participants because they often

were on

terms of greater intimacy with the coon and possum

dogs than most of their elders.

One

of

my

happiest remembrances

is

the sharp

barking which announced the treeing of either of these creatures



the coon with bared teeth chal-

lenging the dogs to try sampling them; the possum,

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

56

eyes closed, stretched out motionless in the treetop

pretending to be dead.

I

never saw one get away

was to finish in a pot where he steamed along with yams or sweet potatoes to make a meal as succulent to our palates as any entree with this

act: his fate

could be to the patrons of a three-star restaurant in

But many possums and more coons eluded the hunters and the dogs by other employments of the Paris.

inherent cunning of the small marsupial and the

daring of the ring-tailed arboreal carnivore.

My

favorite sport, however,

the quail: alternately

we

called

was the hunting of them bobwhites and

they were plentiful in the country. point

was

My usual starting

the residence of an older friend, Bryan

Strader, at Hiseville, a village ten miles from Glas-

gow. The hunt was preceded by the hospitality of a fine

supper and bed for the night, and

would

set out

at five

a.m.

we

with shotguns and bird dogs in search

we

of the coveys.

With average good

count on a

full

bag, yet within a sportsman's limit,

sometimes

after ten miles of walking.

many

years later,

South Carolina did

luck

Not

could

until,

hunted quail on horseback

I I

in

realize that the sport involved

anything less than sheer, though very worthwhile, fatigue.

Chapter Eight

Among l

the omnium,

undescriptive

labels

which corrupt the English language,

haps "white" and "black" are the affair that

not

my

of those

Americans

have induced them

to refer to

spokesmen

of African ancestry

many

falsest. It is

per-

for

themselves as "blacks," despite the fact that this was

word of the slave traders and the alien colonizers. But I am even more puzzled by the American Black Moslems and their adopted names of Ali, Mohammed and the like. For it was Arab Moslems who founded the trade of selling Africans the contemptuous

into slavery.

In the ethnic divisions of that place

and time

I

am

describing, though the classification of Negroes cov-

ered

all

shades from very light to very black, from

octoroon and mulatto to "blue gum," they were generally

lumped

by both groups as so intended.

was taken designation, and was

referentially as "colored." It a dignified

But even with respect

tion, tones of voice

to facial

composi-

and pronunciation, the differences

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

58

among

those of varying degrees of African origin

were as varied as among the descendants of the early Teutons, Celts, Angles and their innumerable mix-

who make up among the colored

tures

boys,

my

the white majority. citizens that, like

greatest affections

And it was many other

and companionships

were centered.

With these my happiest hours were spent: with Dan Smiley, with "Aunt" Courtney and "Uncle" Armistead, with Easter and Perry Wells, with Isom

and Virgil.

my mammy. At her breast she puling infant my mother could not

Aunt Courtney was had suckled the nourish until strated that

my I

that discovery

grandmother's experiments demon-

could be salvaged on oatmeal. I

emerged from the shadow

into a healthy baby.

My survival thus

Courtney concentrated on "bringing

of death

assured,

me

With Aunt

up," accord-

ing to her high standards of gentility, with a combi-

bound us in Her husband, Uncle Arm-

nation of tenderness and discipline that love to the istead, tall,

day she died.

and she were both magnificent creatures



ebony-black, strong physically, with broad brows

and noses, proud

in their carriage.

They were born slaves, and had small education, but they knew whence and how they came to human servitude in an alien land. They were of the warrior tribe of the Amazulu whose impis (regiments),

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

59

armed but with spears, used to shake the earth as they went into battle, and, in the days of their great king Chaka, had Caucasian soldiers retreating more than once. Aunt Courtney and Uncle Armistead had been told by their parents that, defeated

in battle,

had been captured and sold by the Arab slave-traders, who in turn sold them

their ancestors

victors to into the

bondage that began with transport

American colonies

to the

shame-

in the floating hells of that

ful era.

Obviously,

I

cannot faithfully reproduce the narra-

tive of these events as told to

Nor

years ago.

cate the dialect

shall

I

But

it

than seventy

attempt to do more than indi-

and the syntax of Uncle Armistead

as he unfolded the tale to a

Haggard's

me more

boy aglow with Rider Allan Quatermain.

tales of the exploits of

went something like

"Must have been

my

this:

grandpappy, maybe the one

befo' him, in Firginny, that 'splained

from. But he said

whar we come

we was always big

people, with

big heads and faces, like you see us now, and any of

our menfolks could

kill

a lion

with a spear

could git close enough. But land and water



what we was always needin' and always had for with the trash that tried to

if

he

that's

to fight

keep us from

gittin'

em: thev was called the Matabele. "Well, less]

it

seems one time we got us

king who

liked likker

and

a sorry

women

I

worth-

better than

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

60

kingdom, and when he ambushed

lookin' after his

the wife of a Matabele king and run off with started a war.

Most

and lazy under

of our fightin'

this sorry

men had

king of ours, though they

were nacherly as brave as they come, so we

war and got took

captive.

The Matabele

men, women and childern, for slaves skins on the coast, Arabs

who

[Allah], and the next thing crossin' big

water

together so's

we

landed around

in the

'er it

got fat

call

my

lost the

sold us,

to those

brown-

Lawd

'divan'

de

folks

knew we was

hold of a ship, and chained

couldn't hardly

move

We

a muscle.

New Orleans somewhere, was sold off me

to the plantations,

and your Aunt Courtney and

ended up on one

Firginny as children and was sold

off

in

Thar we got married, and that we had a good marster

together into Kintucky.

the good Jesus until

saw

to

it

Mr. Linkum give us our freedom."

Whenever I hungered for something very special, after Aunt Courtney had retired from our service, I would go

to

her house.

restaurants in

many

And

not in any of the great

lands that

I

know have

countered a cuisine which seemed to cious.

Perhaps

it

bringing to arrive

me more

I

endeli-

requires a Southern taste and upat this

judgment. But

if

there are

viands more grateful to the palate than her gumbo, hoecake, ashcake, johnnycake, corn pone, jowl-andgreens,

hominy samp and

grits,

fried

ham and

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

61

chicken, chocolate cream pie, black-eyed peas with

— any

bacon

Many ways

of these

of the



available to

me

at the

of the palate

of the adult

were

al-

house of Aunt Easter and

hospitality

Negroes

was

the highest

The Wellses,

area and the period.

civility of the

most

have not found them.

same delights

Uncle Perry Wells. This

like

I

in

too,

our community,

young as I was, I understood what their freedom and that of their children meant to them. Aunt Easter was our seamstress; and occasionally, when the size and had

first

seen the light in slave quarters, and,

nature of the entertaining called for escalation of our

simple dining routine, she helped in the preparation

and service of the food. As for Uncle Perry, the farm he and his family owned and worked had been made possible

my

by

grandfather: he gave a part of the

price for the land at,

of course,

On I

fear

no

and equipment and loaned the

interest.

the occasions

was

rest

when

I let it

lordly fashion, that

sample the cooking,

I

would

be known,

was

I

in a

in

what

mood

to

arrive to find a table

covered by a gleaming white cloth and a single chair

drawn up

to

it.

But, though the children of the

household were not permitted

unworthy

a

member

This undoubtedly whetted

special dishes they

with even so

of the master race as

would stand around and watch sel.

to dine

me

I,

they

devour every mor-

their appetites for the

would shortly

inherit.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

62

So

far as I

eaten in their

was concerned company. But

would gladly have

I

to

my

hostesses this

would have been a violation of their protocol, founded in a pride which one who was not brought up by Negro

women

in the

South of

be expected to comprehend.

my

childhood could not

The

protocol did not ex-

tend to any other association:

my

most enjoyable

companions, because of their congenital gaiety, and inventive and physical skills, were the very ones

whom

their

mothers would not permit

to sit

with

me

at table.

This companionship ended when school

age — an automatic response

I

reached high-

to the accepted

customs of the society to which both groups belonged.

But the custom had

its

exceptions;

it

did not reach to

the close relations thereafter between, for example,

Dan Smiley and me. And until my boyhood was this

was

also

my relationship with Virgil. was

Virgil's shade

so black that

blue; but the expression "blue

Negroes thickets

game idea,

of this

gum"

verged on deep also

meant that

I

tree grew.

I

I.

It

played constantly was

consisted of laying a chair on



it

in

the

suppose a

my own

but at any rate he was as enthusiastic a

harnessing to ards

and

it

complexion usually lived

where the eucalyptus

that he

pant as

past

partici-

its

back,

either Virgil or one of the St. Bern-

usually the matriarch Princess because of

her amiability, strength and intelligence

— and

ca-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG reening over the lawn. I

I

was always

63

a passenger,

reserved the right to decide on

my

whether

riding companion

was

and

each occasion

be Virgil or

to

Princess.

There was

my

a risk involved because of

grand-

mother's stern disapproval of the performance. If she discovered us, some punitive price had to be paid: Virgil and

were not allowed

I

for a fixed period



to play

with each other

usually a day or so

— during

which Princess was kept within eyesight of the house.

The animation

proval

was

of

my

in this order: I

grandmother's disap-

was subjecting

a noble

beast and a faithful retainer to indignity.

But it

after the second time the penalty

me

occurred to

with the

there

game and go

row

a kitchen knife,

er's

hearing that

was

a simple

was imposed

way

undiscovered. This

announcing

we were going

in

my

to

keep on

was

to bor-

grandmoth-

to the field across

the road to cut and eat sugar cane, ask and receive

permission for Princess to go with us, and, safely

away from the purview of the house, unearth an old chair we had hidden in the field and activate our chariot in the

When we

meadow beyond

wearied of the game, or

the ban, there were

was

to

at the

the cane.

go swimming

many happy in

it

came under

alternatives.

South Fork Creek that flowed

end of the property, where Virgil was

teacher and

I

a

One

backward

pupil.

On

a strict

a return to Glas-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

64

gow

my early twenties

for a visit in

I

sought out Vir-

only to find that he had infracted the law and was

gil

temporarily behind stone walls in a distant town.

Many

my

experiences in

life

have saddened me, but

period none more so than the loss of this merry companion. For he did not come back, and I never saw him again. at that

The simple security measures in our town were much less official than based on voluntary assistance of neighbor to neighbor. Most important of these was a volunteer fire department. The fire engine hose-cart

was hand-drawn.

When

a fire broke out

the crew rushed the machine to the scene of action

my Uncle Louis, the commander, the blaze was put out whenever the hose was long enough to reach the nearest water supply. Often, after I was twelve years old or so, when I

where, under the direction of

heard

my

would

join

his

uncle

summoned

him

in the stable

duty in the night,

I

where he was saddling

thoroughbred, Lady Belle, and ride another

horse to the I

to

fire.

On

found the experience

the last occasion of this kind fairly expensive.

had drawn a crowd of onlookers; my presence was especially noted because I signified the return of the native, having by then been a reporter

The

fire

in Louisville for a

couple of years.

As

I

rode along

with the crowd a cluster of black and brown hands pulled gently at

my

stirrup, their

owners informing

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

65

was named for you." To have failed to present each namesake with a small coin would have been a betrayal of my caste. Fortunately I had not removed the silver from my pants pockets when I went to bed. But I think I was out about five dollars, a big bite in my salary of fifteen dollars a week in Louisme,

"I

ville.

Among

the most fascinating characters in the

country were the Negro preachers, at

camp meet-

ings of the faithful, where they prophesied

fell dis-

ease as the immediate, and an eternal environment of fire

and brimstone

after death as the eventual

punishment for sinners.

I

doubt whether the Rever-

end Billy Graham ever brought more recruits per capita to the mourners'

bench than these preachers

Negro camp meetings. And no evangelist ever surpassed them in their oratory, with respect to its at the

instant effects on the penitent.

One

of the

most accomplished of these preachers

was Theophilus

(

I

have forgotten his surname) His .

thundering bass, both

in

speech and the singing of

was not matched by any of his fellow shepherds of the erring, whose mission was to convince them they had strayed from the narrow path of righteousness. Although the talents of Theophilus

spirituals,

in the pulpit left ity of his

no reasonable doubt of the valid-

vocation,

it

was

a matter of debate

how he

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

66

had recognized

it.

For he, when not describing

my companions

hell

me

into

temporary good behavior, was a wholly illiterate

field

in a detail

which scared

and

hand.

Aware that his ascension to the ministry on Sundays was something of a mystery to the entire community, he disposed of the dubiety by his opening

remarks

to the first

he said (I

am

sermon he preached. "You

all,"

indicating rather than precisely re-

cording the dialect), "knows

I

got a mule.

You

knows I ploughs with this mule in the backbreakin' toil which is his lot and mine. Well, one day this mule turned round in his harness and opened his mouf and brayed. Well, it warn't like your usual mule-brayin', so it took me some time to figure it out. Then it come to me. This mule was savin' 'Oh, Theophilus:

And

go pree-ach, go PREE-ch, go PREE-ch!'

was God and Jesus callin' me, to put sich a call in the mouf of my mule. And I reesponded to the Call, accordin' to which I am here in I

knowed

it

this pulpit today."

Our elders laughed, but we boys did not. And never was a mule so much the observed of all observers as when he and Theophilus opened the rocky soil to fruitfulness. But, though the mule often made the music of his species in our hearing, and we were unable to

we

fit it

to the

words which Theophilus heard,

accepted the explanation as merely another proof

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

God moves

that

in a

mysterious

way

67 his

wonders

to

perform. It

was customary

member

of the congregation

preacher some doubt of Holy

ging

at his faith.

would stump sermon

in

to

for a

discuss with the

Writ which was nag-

Occasionally a question of this kind

a reverend.

One Sunday a

camp meetings

at these

But not Theophilus.

the following

Q and A occurred after

which Theophilus assured

his hearers of

the absolute infallibility of the Bible:

Q.

You

says that

when

the Prophet Jacob, layin' on

that rock in the desert, light

was woken up by

from Heaven, he see

a shinin'

God's

a big passel of

angels ascendin' and condescendin' a big ladder that reached

says

A.

I

it's

up

to

in the Bible

where God was

settin'.

and must therefoh be

says that, the Bible says that, and

it

You

so.

true.

Q. Reverend, cain't angels fly?

A. Co'se they can. Q.

Then why was them

angels ascendin' and con-

descendin' the ladder on their feet?

A.

They was mol tin'. That ended

cism.

And

the colloquy

Theophilus had of

this venture into the

a

was one

of

Higher

many,

in

Criti-

which

crushing explanation for any doubt

Holy Writ that was

raised.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

68

The

old-time fundamental religious persuasion

that the

camp meetings

revealed

was

a

most im-

portant source of the good citizenship that domi-

nated the Negro as well as the white

community. This good citizenship

members of the was expressed in

compassion for the unfortunate, a stress on public order and a

The

common

hard-shell

front against adversity.

(hard-side)

white, firmly believed that total immersion

only baptismal state of grace,

rite

and

Baptists, black

was

which assured entrance

the

into a

and that instrumental church music

(especially the organ)

was

a lure of Satan.

The

Methodists believed that sprinkling was adequate

baptism

more

in the sight of the

lenient

Lord, and were a

little

where church music was concerned.

The

"Campbellites," followers of Alexander

bell

(their churches

this

was an

Camp-

were called "Christian," as

if

exclusive possession), adhered to the

doctrines of predestination and redemption of the spirit,

but less rigidly so than the Presbyterians.

Since there were only a handful of Catholic families

(descendants of those English folk

who accom-

panied Lord Calvert and Lord Baltimore to the

Maryland colony) there were tle

services at their

lit-

church about once a month. The priest was bor-

rowed from the pioneer Catholic community Bardstown,

in

Nelson County, where rose the

of

first

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

69

cathedral west of the Alleghenies, and east of the

Spanish communities a part of the

in the

Far West, that became

United States. As aforenoted, there was

no synagogue.

But

religion,

and especially the Negro gatherings,

camp meetings, were an enormous inand preserving what was best mores of the community. The so-called "holi-

including the

fluence in establishing in the

ness sects" were not successful in their periodic

at-

tempts to invest the Christian worship with their fanaticism.

But

they, too, contributed to the mainte-

nance of the substantial social values (however the

Higher Criticism

known

may

deride them)

as a God-fearing

Among the

community.

mysteries of man's creation, the cortex

which surrounds that part ory

lies is

sights,

of the brain

one of the most awesome.

gray envelope,

what was*

of

I

where mem-

It is

from

this

suppose, that one can reassemble the

sounds and their environment which have

fallow for decades.

why, as

I

Only

lain

way can I explain camp meetings in my

in this

think back on the

youth, the words, the melodies, and even the marvel-

ous orchestration of Negro voices that

is

unmatched

by any of the other races of man, recur almost in

my mind. Many of

the spirituals are

now widely

fully

familiar,

and there are numerous collections of them. But

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

70

some

that

heard as a boy are not to'be found in the

I

books known to me: perhaps they were native that part of the country and did not travel.

Among

these

I'm a Baptist born and a Baptist bred,

And when And when

I

die there'll be a Baptist dead.

I

goes to heaven there'll be a happy time,

A-eatin' of the

honey and a-drinkin'

of the wine.

Jine that golden band, jine that golden band.

Ef you don't jine that golden band Gwine-a hit you on the head with a golden

axe.

My brother and my sister don't you talk-a dat way, Walk on Jerusalem woe. am dark and I cannot stay, Walk on Jerusalem woe. For the night am dark and the road am rough, Walk on Jerusalem woe. For the night

Ef you

tries

you

git

dar sho e-nuf

Walk on Jerusalem woe. Lawd, I'm gwine Yes I'm gwine,

Deed I'm gwine

To walk on Jerusalem woe.

I

want

to

be an angel

And with the

angels stand,

to

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

71

A crown upon my forehead, A harp within my hand. In the white

community

also there

were songs

I

have never heard elsewhere. They were not what the entrepreneurs of Nashville have since popularized,

and thereby enriched themselves, as "country

music," though their origin actually was in the

backwoods and the

One was pure rude

hills.

non-

sense:

Tom Wilson is a walkin' man, Nobody walkin' like he can, From Pruitt's Knob to Bowling Green, Like of him was never seen.

Walk Tom Wilson, Walk Tom Wilson, Walk Tom Wilson,

walk.

walk. afternoon;

Sweep that kitchen with a brand-new broom. He combed his head with a wagon wheel

And

.

.

died with a toothache in his heel.

Another concerned jiggling a child on an knee,

.

its

purpose being

tears with laughter.

For

to replace

me

elder's

an outburst of

this transformation of

mood was always achieved when my grandfather sang:

Rain come wet me, sun come dry me, Git away black man, don't you come a-nigh

inc.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

72

Hello, gals, give Hello, boys, give

me chaw terbacker; me drink of whiskey,



When I'm drunk then I'm frisky Yiddy, yiddy eye-do aye.

I

never was aware that the second line carried

implications of the attitude that

nounced as

our Negro community. Nor, tical a

now would be

"racist," since I never I

am

connected

sure, did so prac-

my

grandfather was: acting

on his own, he had freed his slaves in the teen Forties, put

many Negroes

just a jingle

late

Eigh-

them on wages, and otherwise attain

personal dignity thereafter.

was

de-

with

sympathizer with the victims of slavery and

gross discrimination as

helped

it



its

economic status and

To

him, as to me, this

innocent intent merely to dry

my tears. Fragments are

all

that

I

of other songs of that time

remember, such as

See that boat come round the bend,

Goodbye,

my lover, goodbye,

Laden down with Kentucky men, Goodbye, my lover, goodbye. By, baby, bye-oh, By, baby, bye-oh,

By, baby, bye-oh,

Goodbye,

my lover,

goodbye.

and place

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

I

73

got a gal, she lives in Letcher*

She won't come and

won't fetch her

I

Tennessee gals are handsome,

And Georgia But

gals are sweet,

there's a gal in old

She's the one

I

In relating that

want

all

Kaintucky

to meet.

the servants in a

such as ours were Negroes, fact of the time

and

their service that



place.

I

community

merely

state a social

recall

one aspect of

But

I

gave me, young as

I

was and

grew up in, a strong sense of discomfort. The sense was stronger because the servitors were my friends and playmates, once inured to the civilization

we were

outdoors.

In this period there

and windows, and

were

I

a

great

were no screens

in the

for the doors

long hot seasons the

annoyance.

So

flies

two Negro boys,

equipped with small tree branches, were stationed either

end of the table where we took our meals,

their task

ward

being to wave the branches constantly to

off the persistent flies.

these attendants were coolies; and, *

at

Letcher

is

a

known

I

knew

that in India

to the British as

punka-

Mr. Kipling having assured me Kentucky mountain county.

that

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

74 this

was

a fitting convenience to the master race in

pursuit of benevolent improvement of the "lesser

its

breeds without the law," imperialist precedent.

I

But

took some comfort in the it

bothered me, and

I

was

when we acquired screens, which supplanted the need for the human fly-swatters. The service at meals was simple: in my halcyon days the food was brought in by a colored friend, hardly more than a boy, named Isom, and my grand-

very glad

mother filled and passed the laden passed

my

in

turn by each receiver.

grandfather

(and,

after

uncle ) carved the main course viand.

forced

And, though

table

plates,

On his

death,

if it

was

manners were

(my grandmother's

which were

special occasions

an elder

that sort of strictly en-

discipline consisting of

smacking any offender's hand within reach with the sharp ivory nails of a long ebony backscratcher),

some

latitude

was permitted

in competition for a

drumstick or another desirable part of the anatomy of the entree.

Another special privilege that came within the

was extended on Sundays when ice cream topped the menu. This privilege consisted in

regulations

being allowed to lick the dasher, the central mechanical unit in

old-fashioned freezers. But eligibility de-

pended on which claimant had turned the handle of the freezer the longest.

but only

among

The

rivalry

was

intense,

a few, because to the others the

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG privilege

win

seemed hardly worth the

toil

required to

it.

In a rude fashion

Isom performed,

duties of a butler, though

term was ever employed Nevertheless, this at

75

our table, Isom

was



do not

I

I

suppose, the

recall that the

our simple household.

in

his function, and, well trained

as sort of

homespun

caterer



made a career of it, on call for any occawhen a member of the community, as our

eventually sion

vernacular had

it,

"put on the dog." After several

decades, during which

did not revisit Glasgow,

I

returned during the Fifties to see

was around

my

I

two surviving

the Thanksgiving holi-

aunts there.

It

day, and so

my Aunt Anne

(Redding) ordered

a

midday dinner appropriate to the season. Since she had invited a group of men and women I had grown up with, extra helping hands in the kitchen and at the table were necessary. Once the company was seated, in strode a grayhaired butler in a white coat,

who began

ally to supervise the service of a couple of

majestic-

aproned

young women. Our eyes met, but he made no sign of recognition: Jeeves himself, at Blandings, could

not have faulted this butler's impeccable demeanor.

But

it

broke down when, calling his name,

from the table and put this

my

I

got up

arms around him. For

paragon of itinerant majordomos was Isom.

And when

the

company

dispersed, after nostalgic

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

76

exchanges about happenings Isom, his wife Isabel

youth,

who had cooked

friend),

the days of our

in

(also

childhood

a

the dinner, and

I

had a

my departure.

reunion which delayed

My wife, who was born and reared in Lake Forest, Illinois,

was both pleased and touched by

tionship thus revealed. Nevertheless,

think she did

Not because of any arrobreed, but because she had known only

not quite understand

gance of

I

the rela-

it.

white servants, and never their children, in the

households of her parents and grandparents; and the tenderness of association thus revealed by me, herent in the South in to

my day,

in-

simply does not seem

have crossed the broad Ohio.

As

I

drove out of Glasgow, to resume a journey

whose destination was Corpus Christi, Texas, where lived my wife's older son and his family, I was thinking less of the familiar scenery I was traversing than the object lesson I had just experienced of the American wanderlust which had replaced the durable community of kinfolk of my childhood. For these two aunts were all that remained in Barren County

of the large

Morris

elders lay either in the

clan.

The

rest of the

town graveyard or

in the dis-

parate earths of Louisville, Chicago, Seattle, Eufaula,

Alabama,

New

Orleans and Vancouver, Can-

ada.

In passing the Morris Block on the Square, where

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

my

77

grandfather's office-store had been, and after his

Gus and James Depp, a partner, the name on the lintel of the front

death that of his son I

noticed that only

entrance recalled the original builder. Wordsworth's

had

line,

remembered

would have aptly demeditations: "Homeless near a thousand

I

my

scribed

it,

homes."

The affectionate childhood relationship in Glasgow between blacks and whites existed among the adults, too. It stopped at the point of dining together

and other

But the elders

social intermingling.

family and their grown-up sons and daughters

bered Negroes

among

their closest

and most

of

my

num-

faithful

friends and returned the friendship, each adult group in its

own

particular fashion.

The Negroes

were called

yes, but also they

served,

into conference on

equal terms on matters affecting the household, agri-

and the security of the community from

culture,

racial violence.

For

at least in

our community, the

responsible Negroes possessed in exceptional meas-

ure the instinct for wise solutions of such problems.

My to

fit

grandmother, as aforesaid, had a proverb

many

sciously

situations derived,

suppose, subcon-

from the experiences of ancestors

tant abyss of time. that

I

in the dis-

But the Negroes quoted proverbs

were guidelines for every conceivable perplexity,

some from the Bible but some from

folklore

more

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

78 ancient.

I

recall only a few,

may, but they include: "Ef

would have

bit

hit

you" (referring

wear no specs

brain as

I

had been a snake he to a search for

thing that lay in plain view). "De to

my

cudgel

Lawd

some-

don't have

to see a sinner at his sinning" (a

was as certain no money on de

prediction that punishment for error as the rising of the sun)

.

"Don't lay

debbil rovin' about like a ragin' lion to

he

mo'

is

liable

snuck up on you as a lamb."

There were cruelty and neglect of

:

in

our community,

which the Negroes were among the victims. And

some businessmen and farmers cheated those races

who

could not read or

who were

of both

afraid to

com-

plain of disregard of the axiom that the laborer

worthy

Southern

of his hire. Also, of course, as in all

areas, there

is

were white men who used Negro women

and cast them and their halfbreed babies heartlessly aside.

But insofar

the fact that

as

I left

I

— allowing my youth —

could observe

Glasgow

in

for

these

were exceptional cases, and the white community expressed

its

disapproval in several effective ways

such as denying hospitality to offenders

measure indeed

in the

One custom was would

"sit for



a radical

South of my time.

that

young unmarried women

company" on Sundays, with

writing their names in what was

known

all callers

as a chap-

book. But, as a typical example of community dis-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG approval,

it

was made

clear to

79

men who

exploited

the Negroes that they were not welcome.

come copied by

reluctantly to

I

make use

of the ratings,

American from the British

the

press,

by

which population groups are crudely lumped as the upper, middle, lower middle and working classes.

The

descriptions cannot possibly pass the test of

accuracy, being both transitory and based on income; also this base

have searched

is

distasteful in a democracy.

in vain for substitute

in the

Negroes

I

to describe

in

our com-

Eighteen Nineties, and must

settle for

the standing of the responsible

munity

terms

But

them as the lower middle class in a society that was essentially all middle except for a few families which traced their ancestry to the English identifying

Colonial gentry.

Below

Negro group was the one accurately

this

designated as "white trash" because they were social primitives in act, manners, education and character,

with an ingrained distaste for regular work.

And no

whites, however high their station, scorned "white 11

more than did the fine Negro citizenry: deed, it was they who coined the expression. trash

Yet w e did not r

as

"Mr.

11

sat apart. still

refer, in

and "Mrs.

The

manifest

and

speech or print, to Negroes in

public assemblage they

detestable blight of slavery

in

transportation.

11

in-

was

also

such practices as segregated public

I still

remember

the sense of

shame

I

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

80 felt

when, on a hot summer day,~a Negro having

boarded a crowded streetcar in the vestibule for a

ordered

him to

in Louisville

and stood

one of

my uncles

breath of

the rear.

air,

Chapter Nine

spent very little time

I



school

health, of the

in the local

grammar

the yield of the bad seed of infant

ill-

pampering which accompanies rearing

by grandparents, and

of a gift of ingenuity in devis-

ing excuses for absenteeism. Since the expense of childbirth

was

my

that

mother was blind

for six

years thereafter, and in the course of this affliction

she joined

my

my grammar

father

who had

and secondary school "education" was

divided geographically. But

my

recollections of

structure in

got a job in Chicago,

my

among

the most vivid of

schooling was the one-room

Glasgow where Miss Bybee introduced

us to learning.

A its

gentle but firm teacher, with a culture beyond

humble point

least,

me,

at

with a zeal for seeking knowledge. Repulsively

had learned by the age of three how to time and memorize what was read to me (begin-

precocious, tell

of distribution, she filled

I

ning with "The Dogs' Dinner-Party")

under Miss Bybee's tutelage

I

.

When

had begun

I

came

to read

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

82

some

my

polite fiction in

bits of history

grandfather's library and

and biography.

On

this foundation I

acquired the beginnings of a mental discipline which,

my case by a congenital

though too often breached

in

indolence,

what has become known

in

is

essential to

my trade as "reporting in depth." Our

the

classes

were composed

of boys

town and from the countryside

by the

the latter restricted

and



girls

the range of

availability of the trans-

portation methods of the area and period. It

enough

for

the journey

was easy

town children

to

was above

miles or so, country chil-

five

dren had to depend on any

neighbor

from

who owned

walk

member

to school,

but

if

of the family or

a horse or a mule. Holiday

periods were largely in winter for climatic reasons,

even though snow and ice were rare and brief tions.

So among

my

early

of wrestling with the for spelling)

when

remembrances

is

visita-

the pain

Rule of the Three R's (plus S

the outdoors beckoned with spe-

cial insistence.

Of

my

schoolmates in Glasgow

I

best recall Brice

Leech, Waller Depp, Al Shirley, Joe Kilgore, Edgar Caldwell, a couple of the numerous sons of Colonel

and Mrs. Trigg, the Lessenberry brothers and cousins, and several girls for

whom

I felt

a deep but

shifting affection. It is

neither fable nor folklore that the

women

of

Kentucky are remarkable for their astonishing quota

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

— usually — and

of exceptional beauties

83

fair-haired, blue-

eyed and lissome of figure

all

particularly

reducing their admirers to a

skilled in the art of

happy bondage. At one time or another I was thus enslaved by Kate Depp, Maud Lessenberry and the Bohannon twins, Charlotte and Caroline, while state of

also adoring at a distance Kate's elder sister Minnie.

Although she was

my

barrier did not spare

by three years,

senior

me

this

the pangs of calf love, such

young Marchbanks suffered for Candida in the play by Shaw, when, on a homecoming visit, Minnie as

Depp drove me around

the Square in her shiny

new

phaeton.

But "the proper study

mankind

man," and

this

study, being an essential part of true education,

had

of

is

I

community such grew to know there-

that "alcohol

and gasoline don't

a vast storehouse of references in a

as that

I

grew up

in

and those

after.

The aphorism

mix" was generated by the growing number traffic

accidents for which drunken drivers are re-

— we had no combustion engines because were no automobiles community —

sponsible. In

my Glasgow

boyhood

internal

yet

of fatal

there

as

a corollary

in the

aphorism could have been: "Southerners and alcohol, especially, don't mix."

For the native Southern breed

in

those days ap-

pears in retrospect to have had a special inclination

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

84 to violence

under the influence of alcohol. And, since

Saturday night was by custom the time for drinking to excess,

it

was usually

in

Glasgow

a violent occa-

sion on the streets of town.

The town marshal, Winston Collins, was one of the gentlest men I ever knew. He maintained a remarkable degree of order by virtue of his courage, persuasiveness and the respect the community had for him. Yet, because of the intensity of the fire

some of our normally peaceful citizens, it was Marshal Collins's bitter lot to be forced to use lethal methods in dealing with them on Saturday night. Otherwise, the public order and his life, as well as the lives of innocent bystanders, would have been the sacrifice. It was the duty and function of Marshal Collins to

which alcohol lighted

in the breasts of

forestall these recurring nights of violence, or, fail-

ing, to restore

law and order by whatever means was

And

means was the Colt revolver, the "Peacemaker" of the Old West. Most of the occasions w hen Marshal Collins was forced to draw on an offender or offenders, the badge

necessary.

all

too frequently this

r

of authority that

gleamed on his

tation as a very fast in

to

chest, plus his repu-

gun and the respect and

affection

which even the brawlers held him, were sufficient end the violence, often with no more casualties

than minor wounds. But

when whiskey had inflamed

beyond control one or another

of the town's citizens

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG or visitors, pacification

tremely

and disarmament were

and dangerous

difficult

the comparatively

so because

85

to attempt, the

ex-

more

sober siblings and

friends intervened.

So

far as

I

could determine, and

I

always made

it

a point to see Marshal Collins in his old age on

homecoming

visits,

he died with the serenity of mind

that should attend awareness of a

assumed and met

ingly

in full.

Yet throughout this period of

gow was

a "dry"

hard duty know-

my

boyhood Glas-

town and Barren was

a "dry"

county. For national prohibition merely lent emphasis

to

a condition precedent,

racially

mixed conglomerate

States votes dry

key)

in the

which was that the society of the United

and drinks wet (principally whis-

"Bible Belt."

more perfect balKentucky than elsewhere

Ecological conditions, found in

ance for distilling corn in in

United States, account for the fact that

the

straight

bourbon whiskey

kind anywhere of

in the

is

the finest product of the

world. Its base

is

the purity

water when strained through deposits of lime-

stone,

and careful aging of raw bourbon by genera-

tions of distillers has steadily perfected

cause, from early times in the

life

it.

But

be-

of the nation, the

Federal government has drawn a large annual rev-

enue by taxing whiskey, evasion of the tax by moonshiners has led to the circulation in the South of a

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

86

raw

nature highly inflammatory to the

spirit of a

emotions of

its

tendency

of a congenital

This

imbibers, and especially provocative

illegal

to violence.

ously as "white lightning"

always

in full

— known and "white mule" — was

moonshine whiskey

vari-

supply in the community, particularly

on Saturday nights. There was also aged bourbon to be had

much more

but this was

illegally,

costly.

The moonshine came from stills, movable from one location to another when Federal "revenooers" demolished them or got too close for continued production.

The aged bourbon was

acquired from drugstores

by medical prescriptions, although few were bonafide issues of the

physicians by

whom they were pur-

ported to have been signed. For in our community the practicing doctors

met the highest standards

of

the Hippocratic oath and professional capacity.

So outstanding were Glasgow's physicians that vividly

remember

down to their very lineaments One was Dr. Leech, who ami-

five,

and turns of speech.

ably endured the obvious tion of his

name and

pun evoked by the connec-

his profession.

He encouraged

me to extend my reading to the natural And whenever I met him on the street in pany

of

someone unknown

introduced

me

I

as "a

member

to

sciences.

the com-

me, he invariably

of one of

Glasgow's

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG oldest families

and

I

87

— an acknowledgment on which he

11

both set store.

Three

of the other physicians

who

live

in

my

memory were Dr. Trabue, Dr. Grinstead and Dr. Garnett. Like Dr. Leech they were men of great dignity and compassion, holding themselves com-

mitted to answer any

however humble, without regard and

distant

my

But

difficult the

from persons

for help,

call

to race

and however

journey to their bedsides.

were with our

closest relations, of course,

family G.P., Dr. Jepson.

He was

by

so

a long, flowing

drawn by

its



or at least

cause often they awakened

by reason of

my

white beard.

buggy, meticulously

known

as himself.

wheels and the clop-clop

from

of his horse's hoofs apart

combinations

a

a horse as well

recognized the sound of

so

His head was magnifi-

courtly.

visited his patients in

kept, I

and

made more

cent,

He

tall

I

me

all

other vehicular

thought

I

could

in the night.



be-

This was

grandmother's concept that good

citizenship required her to help the indigent ailing,

and Dr. Jepson's reliance on her unfailing willingness to demonstrate

and

at

it

by attending

any time his patients

at

any distance

who were

in

need of

their skills.

These were the country doctors vanishing species. fully

went unpaid

They made

little

of the time, a

money and

for their services

cheer-

by patients of

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

88

meager means. Despite the grear subsequent advancement in medical expertise, and the financial aid to the ailing provided

by Medicare and other

aspects of the Welfare State,

I

think in their virtual

disappearance the American people have lost more in social values

than they have gained in the dubious,

wasteful and confused benevolences of the paternalistic superstate.

To

Horatio,

who found

the appearance of the

Ghost "wondrous strange," Hamlet are

more things

in

replied,

"There

heaven and earth than are dreamt

The eternal truth of this is borne out every day in human experience everywhere, and in Glasgow we had our share of eviof in your philosophy."

dences of the supernatural.

recall three in particu-

I

lar.

The Edmunds family owned a known as the "madstone." Small, slightly reddish tinge,

it

a rabid dog.

when and how

and of a

soil.

But the Ed-

Why

personal experience that,

without great delay to a

if

was bitten by was so was an un-

a person this

solved mystery. But there were

it

rock

stone possessed the mysterious quality of

averting hydrophobia

dog

flat

of

did not differ in aspect from

thousands of others found in the

munds

piece

many

to

swear from

the stone were applied

wound

inflicted

by a mad

healed normally and quickly. This firm con-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG viction

was sustained by

the fact that hydrophobia

had positively attacked others had not been to

89

to

whom

the stone

enough

available, not always, but often

engender absolute confidence

in its recondite vir-

tues.

Though

the local doctors were not prepared to

accept the belief as scientifically demonstrable, they

were not prepared

Hence

credibility.

to repudiate

my

in

it

as entirely lacking

boyhood the community's

Edmunds madstone was as strong as cripples w ho throw away their crutches

faith in the

that of the at

r

Lourdes, or as the faith of Chinese surgeons in

acupuncture.

A

second mystery was supplied by Princess, one

of our

two matriarch

St.

Bernards.

One

of her ap-

was to lead our cows to the morning and bring them back

pointed duties each day

town pasture

in the

in the late afternoon.

this office flawlessly.

Time

after time she

performed

But one evening one

charges was missing.

of her

Perceiving this on arrival

home, without a word having been spoken

to her,

she rushed back to the pasture, and, after inspecting the premises

by nose, she proceeded

to the residence

my Aunt Victoria. There she found the missing cow and duly chivvied her back to the place where

of

she belonged.

Could Princess count? only being absentminded

In

which

when she

case,

was she

first

returned

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

90

Or was Princess responding

some arcane prompting in performing something wondrous strange? I don't know the answer. But I do

her charges?

know the tale is true. The third instance

to

of the existence of the strange-

was the presence in She was a Negro, old

nesses Hamlet cited to Horatio

our community of a seeress.

and

totally blind.

But she had, among other

ability to locate lost articles. I recall that

mother, having lost a twenty-dollar the seeress and

was

gifts, the

my

bill,

grand-

consulted

told that the missing item

would

be found "between two pieces of paper." After a long

was discovered between two pages

search

it

which

my

a

week

grandmother had

of a

book

laid aside while reading

same inexplicable fashjewelry and other valuables

or two before. In the

ion missing pieces of

were located for

their owners.

In the hope of being credited with at least some

fragment of discretion,

I

shall leave these mysteries

for others to try to solve. I realize I

County

in

of Utopia,

have portrayed Glasgow and Barren

my boyhood and so

companions. But

it

as a

was

for

community on the

me and my

slopes

like-situated

in retrospect I also realize that the

corruptions inherent in

human

nature were suppurat-

ing there on the general scale of

mundane

behavior.

Beneath the roofs of the large, comfortable houses there doubtless

was

the going percentage of crime,

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG misery of

spirit, incest,

91

drunkenness, cruel gossip,

discrimination against and exploitation of the ble, lust

and greed. The drunkenness

since every

I

hum-

was aware

of,

Sunday morning the town hummed with toll alcoholic excess had taken of life

accounts of the

and property the night before. sion jail

when



I

— hiding

in

And

on the one occa-

an outhouse near the town

watched a mob take from his

accused of rape,

cell a

Negro

beheld the horrid spectacle of

I

lynch law in action.

But these matters sciousness: to

me

have described

it.

lay on the far fringes of

the

Perhaps because

I

community

at large

was seldom the

my con-

was

as

I

victor in those

which boys fall to in the course of their upgrowing, I developed a fascination for champions in the "manly art of self-defense," as the promoters fistfights

of professional

years "art,"

I

boxing describe

From my

it.

informed myself of developments

and could

reel off the

names

in

early this

of principals in

bouts which ranged from the flyweight to the heavy-

weight divisions.

Who

won, and how, and

round, were statistics ever at the tip of

And when ol*

in

the great

the

time

I

came

champions

admiration

of

the

to

know

my

in

tongue.

personally

of the ring,

I

what

felt for

some them

crowd that makes public

idols of actors, military heroes

and those politicians

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

92

imbued with what

a recent cliche designates

as

"charisma."

My

first

recollection of a prizefight concerns one

morning, when

My

was about five years old (1892). grandfather was sitting on the porch, reading I

the Courier-Journal of Louisville.

As he turned

a

page he suddenly said "what a pity."

"What's a pity, Grandpa?"

"Why,

that upstart

James

J.

Corbett has knocked

out the great John L. Sullivan."

Many

decades later

World

the

office in

ager, Florence

He

I

New

was

listening one day, in

York,

to the general

man-

D. White, on the subject of boxing.

told of a time, long after the fight with Corbett,

when, as a young reporter, he was sent the great John L.

The

to interview

old paladin of the ring

was

enthroned in his saloon and casting aspersions on all

his successors.

"How would you

handle them?"

White said he inquired, to which Sullivan replied, "With one hand." Then, White added, "Sullivan loosened his belt and his belly

fell

out."

But this anecdote was no longer disillusioning for me; long since I had transferred my allegiance to Robert (Ruby Bob) Fitzsimmons who in 1897 had taken the championship away from Corbett at Carson City, Nevada, with the famed punch to the solar plexus. I

"heard," or,

more

accurately, "read" the fight at

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

was proceeding. In those days, and television, the Western Union

Carson City while long before radio

93

it

and the Postal Telegraph Company sent running accounts of such events on their wires, and, as the strips arrived, they

father took

me

to

were pasted on the windows.

town

to join the

My

crowd before the

Western Union office that was raptly watching each tape as it was put on the glass. When a bulletin, "Knockout by Fitzsimmons," appeared, followed immediately by the detail of the solar plexus blow, my treble voice arose among the baritones and the basses in jubilation.

This early-acquired interest

in professional box-

when

was working on the World and the Times in New York in the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties I became a ing, unusually served

by the

friend of the great promoter

fact that

Tex Rickard,

I

led to

personal acquaintances with the great ring fighters of three generations.

grimage

to

he

I

had made

a pil-

Bensonhurst, Long Island, where Fitz-

simmons was while

Years before

living in retirement,

reminisced,

in

and

sat spellbound

strong Australian

his

With Corbett at Carson City. With James J. Jeffries, when he lost the heavyweight championship. With Kid McCoy, "strine,"

on his ancient battles.

the most brilliant like

of

— master

whom

— and most dubiously sportsman-

of ring strategy.

Fitzsimmons had said

With

Peter Maher,

to reporters before

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

94 the bell I

will

Maher and

hit

floor."

In

"There

:

be only two blows

the other

— one when

when Maher

hits the

And it was so.

New York

I

knew Corbett

slightly.

By

that

time "Gentleman Jim" had long since lost the championship to Jeffries and was earning a good living as

an actor, an excellent one. Once he was describing

when, as was then the custom of

his experiences

champions between

fights,

he was traveling with a

road-show burlesque troupe. His contribution box-office

draw

of the

show was

to offer to

to the

box two

one-minute rounds with anyone in the audience and present the challenger with one hundred dollars

if

he lasted the route.

remember

was in Cincinnati," said Corbett, "and at the time the manager announced the proposition I was most heavily hung over. Up from the audience came a big, muscular boy, much bigger "I

than

I,

it

assistant to a local butcher as I learned after-

ward. His cheeks were rosy, his eyes were bright.

thought to myself, 'My God, suppose this kid I

could barely see)

champion "But

I

(whom

knocks out the heavyweight

of the world.'

knew something he

scared of me, but he didn't

him. So after I

I

we came

on the shoulder.

know

I

together and shook gloves,

him and gave him Thinking it was the

tottered toward

knew he was was scared of

didn't. I

a playful tap

right thing to

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG do, he tapped

me

back.

The

turned his head in surprise. system.

I let

him have

got a punch in

first, I

it,

95

audience booed, the kid I

had one punch

and he dropped.

fear that audience

in

he had

If

would have

seen the heavyweight champion asleep on the

Among

my

floor."

whom

the other masters of boxing with

became acquainted were Paul Berlenbach, Tommy Laughran and Jimmy Slattery, all light heavyweight I

champions; Jack and

whom

Tom

Sharkey (the former of

barely missed knocking out Jack

McCoy, Mickey Walker, long king weights; Joe Jeannette, the great

Dempsey),

of the middle-

Negro

fighter;

Marvin Hart; Packy McFarland; Joe Choyinski, the skinny, stouthearted near-nemesis of Corbett; and

both

Dempsey and Gene Tunney. Thomas

Hitch-

cock, the greatest polo player of this century, once invited

me

to dine at the

Links Club

in

New

York,

where his guests of honor were Dempsey and Tunney, and their

comments on

their

two contests

for the

heavyweight championship made the evening

mem-

orable because of the respect and friendship they

showed

to

each other.

grew to know Tunney quite well, to the point where we arranged that he extend his acquaintance I

from managers, trainers and boxers by dining with

some

of the

many prominent New York men who

had expressed

a

evening, with

my

wish

to

meet him. Accordingly one

close friend J.

Cheever Cowdin,

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

96

the seven-goal polo player on the Milburn and Hitch-

cock teams as co-host, to

I

invited a group of these

meet the champion. He was the

prizefighter

most

of

first

them had met, and

pressed with him as an individual.

He

men

professional all

were im-

spoke well and

familiarly of matters of general interest, including their

own, and certainly he was the handsomest

man

among them. After dinner

all

but two of the group gathered in

another room for cigars and brandy, the two being

Tunney and George Gordon Moore,

"break

it

at the table,

still

up," saying that

all

with Tunney. As

to talk

in

When half an hour had passed

for his erudition.

with the pair

magnate

renowned as a polo player

the rapid transit industry,

and

a

Cowdin urged me

to

the other guests wanted

I

approached the table

I

Tunney saying: Gibbon was not an enemy of

heard, with no particular surprise,

"But, Mr. Moore,

if

the Catholic Church, why, on page so-and-so, Vol-

ume X,

did he write

.

.

.

Later Moore said to me:

?"

"Was that really Tunney, One of knock him out

the heavyweight champion of the world?

these nights

somebody

is

going

to

with a book!"

Another champion, a lightweight,

Ruby

Goldstein,

now

I

admired was

a referee of professional box-

ing.

For several months the senior Allan A. Ryan

and

I

followed

him from one

fight club to another

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG as he

mowed down

97

his victims in short order.

Then

came a night when he was booked at Coney Island in a match with a clumsy Nebraska farm boy named Ace Hudgkins. Ruby played with his opponent for a couple of rounds and, believing that the usual knockout din

was

closely impending,

who was with us There was

another.

and we three turned I

began

and Corbett

a

Ryan and

— looked

I

— and Cow-

exultantly at one

sudden roar from the crowd, our hero

to see

flat

with Sullivan

this aficionado chronicle in the Nineties.

end

I

it

on his back.

with Dempsey,

A. Charles Schwartz and Harry Greb. Charlie Schwartz, of

Wall

Street,

was

a fairly

good amateur boxer, his diversion from the hectic

mosphere

of the

summer,

a project for charity

Exchange. So when,

at

Saratoga one

was undertaken,

idea entered the nimble brain of Herbert

Swope a light

that an exhibition

the

Bayard

match between Schwartz,

heavyweight, and

large and

at-

Dempsey

could draw a

most generous audience. Both were agree-

There were to be two one-minute rounds. Throughout the first Schwartz was blasting the air with punches aimed at (but missing) Dempsey, which the latter never tried to return in kind. able.

Yet when the

bell

rang for the second round,

Schwartz, after vainly trying not rise from his corner,

I

to raise his

asked

arms, did

Dempsey why.

"Well, you see," he said, "we have a trick

in profes-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

98 sional boxing:

arms,

if

you just lean on thet)ther guy's

you can,

until

fore-

you have worn him down.

I

just leaned on Charlie's forearms."

Harry Greb had an unconquerable fighting heart. He also was a good boxer with a potential knockout blow in each hand. With this equipment he had won the light heavyweight championship of the world,

and

in fifteen

rounds had outpointed his most formi-

dable challenger,

improved

in skill

Gene Tunney. But Tunney, much and with more poundage, overcame

Greb to win a return match which left indelible marks on both. On Tunney, because to win he was obliged to punish Greb severely, and this has distressed him ever since. On Greb, because the punishment he took was irreparable. It was after this second fight that Tunney left the light

heavyweight

to join the

from which he eventually

heavyweight

division,

retired as unbeaten

cham-

pion.

Out

of the ring

Greb was

a modest and gentle

creature. I can testify to this because, with

Philip Boyer,

together in

Greb and

Jimmy

I

my friend

often spent the late hours

Kelley's speakeasy in

Greenwich

Village, in the blighted years of national prohibition.

At the end of these evenings we were always joined by Boyer's favorite chauffeur, who at the time was running a taxicab business in Jersey City but came over to New York to see after Boyer whenever

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

99

Boyer was having a night on the town. The deference this big black to

him were

man showed to Greb and Greb showed

affecting

and

fitting testimonials to the

greatness each had displayed in the ring.

The

Jersey City taxicab company owner was Joe

Jeannette.

Chapter Ten

The

thoughts of youth

are

long,

long

thoughts," noted Mr. Longfellow, with the

sound reservation that "a boy's will." In

both respects

will is the wind's

qualified.

I

As

I

dreamed

in-

trospectively over the pages of the standard novelists

and historians library

was

to

whose works

largely devoted,

I

my

grandfather's

conjured up myself

successively as a successor to D'Artagnan, Charles

James Fox, Montrose, Marmion, Ivanhoe, William Dobbin, Sydney Carton, Blackstone, David Copperfield, Mark Hopkins of Williams College, the Poe brothers of Princeton, Robert Fitzsimmons, Leibnitz (

because he stood on the summit of

omnium knowl-

edge), Midshipman Easy, the Boy on the Burning

Deck and many

others

whose

lives, real or

had captured my fancy. But as the realities in which

imagin-

ary,

bore in on

me more and

more,

visions, ambitions settled

come

a professor of

must be

life

expense of

at the

down, and

lived

I

my

decided to be-

American history or a lawyer.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

By

time

the

autumn

of

matriculated at Princeton

I

1904

had decided

I

temperament and

And

ing.

to

I

equipment

intellectual

the

in

lacked the studious for teach-

the family financial assets having declined

where

to the point

way

101

had

I

to

maintain myself, the only

do this was to get a paying job. This auto-

matically terminated lege to law school



my I

idea of going on from col-

had neither the years

to devote

nor the fortitude of character to attend classes

to

it

at

night after the long working days customary in

that period.

At school and college which suggested

I

had written several papers

to professors

of English that

might have

a talent for

essential to

newspaper reporting, and even

and

literate

I

good observation of the kind

narrative style.

On

opinion, plus an interest in the

a clear

the basis of this

news

of events

which

arose from their constant discussion in the family, I

decided to try to get a job on a newspaper. But the

problem was, how

to elude a certain

city editors of daily

papers in those days: an appli-

cant for payroll status field

requirement of

must come

to

them with some

experience or train for six months without pay.

For a number of reasons Louisville was choice to begin a newspaper career. lis

of

It is

my

only

the metropo-

my home Commonwealth, Kentucky,

in

which

the natives feel inordinate pride. Its great journalistic

figure,

Henrv Watterson, was then an

idol

in

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

102

every Kentucky family, including mine; his edi-

had been read

torials

me

to

before

could read;

I

and the Courier-Journal was our bible of current

had to pretend previous experience, and the managing editor, Graham Vreeland

events. But, since

I

a family acquaintance this

was

a



— would know

foredoomed venture. Also,

had none,

I

was hardly

it

managing editor of the Louisville owned by the Courier-Journal Company,

likely that the

Times, also

would not learn Accordingly,

of this

represented otherwise.

if I

my

carried

I

deceit to the city editor

of the Herald, a paper which,

though ever on the

brink of bankruptcy, was a lively shop, whose liant

managing

editor

and page one columnist, A. T.

Macdonald, daily stuck enough thorns jestic seat of the Courier- Journal to

to

weaken

When I fifty

and

its

I

my

expended

in

field.

had

just spent

to get

on a payroll as quickly as

free food

by train to my grandGlasgow where I could count on

a round trip

mother's house in

Two

not

My remaining four dollars and fifty cents I

possible.

and lodging while awaiting the decision

Herald whether

reporter

I

it, if

ma-

small capital for a night's lodging,

was obliged

of the

in the

annoy

domination of the morning

asked the Herald for a job

cents of

bril-

to

employ the experienced

vowed myself to be. weeks later I got a telegram I

offering

reporter's job at fifteen dollars a week.

And

me

it

a

was

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG not until

I

failed the intricate

assignment of covering

fundamental

test of reportorial ex-

a big fire



pertise

that



103

a

my deception was unveiled.

shown enough promise

But

had

I

induce the Herald to keep

to

me on. The Herald occupied Market

Street, near Fifth.

to the third floor

There were no elevators

where the news and composing

partments adjoined first floor,

crumbling building on

a



the business office

was on the

and the basement was given over

to the

which were the best the

creaking old presses, poverty-stricken

Like

establishment could afford.

every other city room of the period with which familiar

— even

de-

I

was

those of the prosperous Courier-

Journal and Times



the place

was musty and

strewn with the trash of reportorial activity.

But none

of its inhabitants

was concerned by

these

attendant circumstances of their labors. If any of us,

including Mr. Macdonald bicle of

an

office)

(who

actually

had been taken forward

the swept and gleaming suites in

had a in

cu-

time to

which reporters

work today, he would have thought he was

in the

throes of a particularly bad hangover. I

was assigned

to a battered old

desk on which

knew

stood a battered old typewriter, and, though

I

how

did not

to

manipulate the

latter

mechanically,

I

11

must

be surmounted bv a "slue." This consists of the

name

know that the

first

page of newspaper "copy

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

104

(in small letters) of the producing reporter line giving the subject of the story: for

and a

examples,

"Fourth Street Murder," "Wreck on the Daisy" (a trolley connecting Louisville

with

New

Albany, In-

diana, across the Ohio)

The that

I

preservation of

my masquerade

should "act" like a reporter. So

to the slang of the trade, city editor

I

also required

bent

my

ear

such as knowing what the

meant when he ordered me

to write

my

was lengthy and the "deadline" was near, and even what a deadline was. I tossed my jacket onto a peg, whether or not the room was cold, cast the ashes from my four-cent cigar El Toro into the nearest of a battery of spittoons, by name and depreciated the fame of the star reporter with the story in "takes,"

if it





others this

whom

to asperse his right to

eminence.

A common first

envy prompted

jest

among

itinerant reporters in that

decade of the twentieth century, when discuss-

ing other newsrooms, was that the pace at the

New

Orleans Times-Picayune was so leisurely, the only noise to be heard

was

the crackling of the logs in

the fireplace, and that the reporters and editors wrote in

longhand by candlelight. But,

actually,

on the

Herald, the clacking of the linotype machines in the next room, added to the noise of our typewriters and

loud conversational exchanges, conditioned us for writing in the most distracting circumstances

— an

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

105

whose value under the pressure of a developing event cannot be overemphasized. Bare and dusty illuminating bulbs, mostly hanging from the ceiling, ability

suffused the quarters with a fishbelly light such as invests the paintings of El Greco. spells of

And

in the

long

stewing weather, typical of the climate of

most riverine American

cities,

the feebly revolving

fans served only to incandesce the hot gusts that

came

in

through the open windows.

Old men but old

men

King Harry

at

Agincourt,

also are prone to believe that stouter

emerge from hardships and discomforts

spirits

early

forget, said

working

life

than amid such luxuries as

in air

conditioning, fluorescent lights, wall-to-wall carpet-

and

ing, contour chairs

electric typewriters.

ever the soundness of this postulate,

learned

my

I

am

Whatglad

I

trade in harsher working circumstances.

— and

the

absence of union-enforced equality of earnings,

re-

Long hours, with only one day

off a

week

gardless of superior talent, industry and character

— produced,

in

my

judgment, a

professional devotion that

is

in

self-discipline

and

shorter supply in

journalism today.

Like

many young

had high marks I

reporters, especially those

at school

burned with the ambition

with the "literary

in

English composition,

to invest

11

touch.

delusions, for not only are

It is

who

the

my news

stories

most juvenile of

news reporting and

litera-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

106

ture wholly different vehicles of written expression:

they are mutually destructive to their objectives. Because

had the good fortune

I

who made

editors

this

rapidly from the fever.

had

it

begin work under

to

clear to

But while

me, it

recovered

I

possessed

me

I

bad.

The

first

stage of

my

convalescence was marked

by a strange and unexpected sensation. As I typed I began to laugh at the obscure words and recondite

had selected to give literary quality to my product, and no cure of posturing is more effective

phrases

I

than self-laughter.

remember pouncing on a word I at first found delicious, intending to weave it into a profile of a citizen who exercised great power in the affairs of the State. The word was "puissant." But when I I

spoke

it

out loud

it

sounded convulsingly funny.

And

so (in order) did "pusillanimous," "hebetate" (that

most stupid synonym as "the scene

with in

my

torial at the

By

frillings of rhetoric that I toyed

brief attempt to be literary

and repor-

same time.

this experience I realized,

the unadorned adjectives,

and such phrases

beggared description," "a somber hush

— fancy

descended"

for "dull"),

and

for keeps, that

word and phrase, with

and only those

fitly

And

on

chosen, are the pure

stuff of informative, honest, readable

distinctive journalism.

restraint

and



that, if a reporter

yes



wants

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG to

107

be a novelist, a poet, a dramatist, a philosopher or

whatever, he must do

it

on his

own time

damage

or

both commodities.

Before the pretense of previous reportorial experience was shattered by

my poor performance

ing out the assignment to cover a big

man

of the

composing room

exposed me. Suspecting

was, he had easily proved to

work by

practice a

it

a

among newspaper

look at "type-lice," and,

form

jamming

to

Herald could have

after

I I

in the city

went

when

room. This con-

he wanted to have a

if

when

really

which was standard

linotype operators

sisted of asking the recruit

closely over a

the fore-

an amateur

few days

a practical joke

new boy was taken on

tures,

of the

how raw

fire,

in carry-

the innocent

had bent

observe these reputed crea-

the type together and inundating his

face with a spray of inky water.

But, having had his joke to the great delight of the watching printers, the foreman and his crew

magnanimously forbore to relay the story to the newsroom. Had they done so I might instantly have been reduced to

my

true status as an unpaid "cub,"

posing a problem of financial survival for which at the time

The

I

had no immediate

solution.

incident illustrates the fraternal relations be-

tween compositors and reporters that, experience, does not

now

at least in

my

exist with respect to the

pressmen, stereotypers and the personnel of the busi-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

108 ness

office.

Perhaps

because newsmen and

this is

printers consider their callings to be a sort of art not

shared with the other departments. At any rate, on the Herald, and later

when

of the Courier- Journal

I

was

editorial

manager

and the Louisville Times,

harmony was a firm condition. And of all my associates, in more than half a century of activity in newspapering, I had none more helpful in the newsroom, or more enjoyable in the saloons to which we repaired in common, than the mechanical workers this

and their foremen.

The foremen were good news and

editorial staffs

terrible goofs averted,

closed forms, on the vital corrections

publication.

them

have owed a debt for

many

and for miracles

way

wound

in overtaking

to the stereotypers, so that

Jackson, the foreman of the

of the Louisville

Times, had a talent

which not only was unique, but living

and

and additions could be made before

And Frank

composing room

to

editors, too,

in the

inflicted

amour propre

sister paper, the Courier- Journal.

of the

an ever-

haughty

For Jackson alone

could, with total accuracy, decipher the scrawl

which

was the handwriting of the Courier- Journal's celebrated editor, Henry Watterson. Watterson, before he was thirty, had become so outstanding in American journalism and politics that the Associated Press distributed his national and international editorials to

all its clients

throughout

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

109

Henry T. Watterson led

the nation and abroad. Together with

Grady, of the Atlanta Constitution,

movement

the

Between the

He was

to

"bury the bloody flag" of the

War

States.

either the keynoter or

chairman of the

Resolutions Committee of several Democratic National Conventions.

He

traditional party policy

led in the formulation of the

which he phrased as

"tariff

As an orator and lecturer he was demand than nearly all his contempora-

for revenue only." in

greater

ries.

The

conclusion of his lecture on Lincoln, for

example, thrilled audiences in

parts of the coun-

all

try:

Born

as lowly as the

Son

of

God,

in a hovel; reared in

penury, squalor, with no gleam of light or fair surrounding; without graces, actual or acquired; without

name

was reserved for this strange being, late in life, to be snatched from obscurity, raised to supreme command at a supreme moment, and

or

fame or

official

training;

it

intrusted with the destiny of a nation.

The

great leaders of his party, the most experienced

and accomplished public men of the day, were made

to

stand aside; were sent to the rear, while this fantastic figure

was

led

by unseen hands

the reins of power. for him, or against

It

is

as the

and given

immaterial whether

we were

him; whollv immaterial. That, dur-

ing four years, carrying with sponsibility

to the front

them such

a

weight of

re-

world never witnessed before, he

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

110

him in the eyes and actions of mankind, is to say that he was inspired of God, for nowhere else could he have acquired the wisdom and filled

the vast space allotted

the virtue.

Where

did Shakespeare get his genius?

Mozart get

his

music?

Whose hand smote

the Scottish ploughman, and stayed the

man

life

Where

did

the lyre of of the Ger-

God, God, and God

alone; and as surely as up by God, inspired by God, was Abraham Lincoln; and a thousand years hence, no

priest?

these were raised

drama, no tragedy, no epic poem greater wonder, or be followed by feeling than that

which

tells

will be filled

with

mankind with deeper

the story of his

life

and

death.*

Watterson's countenance

— with

its

one blazing

blue eye (he had lost the other in youth), ting jaw,

its

its jut-

martial white mustache and goatee

badges of the old Confederates

— was

lure to cartoonists for over fifty years.



a constant

The

fact that

he preferred beer, champagne and brandy

to the

bourbon whiskey of his homeland was a news story

whenever rediscovered, as often

it

was, by the metro-

And, though the legend also had it that Watterson lunched on mint juleps at the Pendennis Club, his actual noonday habit was to repair politan press.

Henry Watterson, The Compromises of Life, and Other Lecand Addresses, Including Some Observations on Certain Downward Tendencies of Modern Society (New York: Fox, Duffield & *

tures

Co., 1903), pp.

179-180.

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG to the

backroom

for a fare of chili

Among

111

of a saloon near the Courier -Journal

and beer.

his diversions

was poker, and each Satur-

day night for many years he joined an equally posed group

at the Louisville

Hotel on

Main

dis-

Street.

Since he rarely remembered to carry any cash, he

would stop by the business of the Courier- Journal

sum he might

on the ground

office

and extract from the

till

a

considered sufficient to defray any losses he

sustain.

"Mr. Watterson" he called himself;

him when

it

disgusted

surname was prefixed by "Colonel."

his

But he enjoyed being referred

which invariably he was in

floor

cartoons,

editorials,

around the newspaper

to as

"Marse Henry,"

in the political

approaches

personal offices,

community, and

including his own,

and he so entitled his autobiography. In figure he

was

of

middle height and stocky. His

walk was a quickstep; his voice was somewhat on the high side. Six days a trolley

in

the interurban

from "Mansfield," his home outside the town

in Jefferson

way

week he rode

County,

to the office

and back.

On

the

he read his copy of the Courier- Journal and

made notes on what pleased or displeased him, or gave him an idea for an editorial. In the office he did no more than glance

at the

Herald.

he read the Louisville Times and

its

On

his

way

out

competitor, the

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

112

Evening Post, taking

little time for these with the usual remark that " a short horse is soon curried." I

did not meet Mr. Watterson, or even see him,

until the

summer

of 1910, after I

had become the

Washington correspondent of the Louisville Times. Some field reports I had written, of the political situation in several states prior to the elections that fore-

shadowed the fatal Republican party split in 1912, had attracted his attention. He summoned me to the

was

I was appointed Washington also and instructed to report the 1910 campaign in the Haldeman paper of more general circulation. I found the famous editor, for all his reputation as

Presence, and the upshot

that

to represent the Courier- Journal in

and devastator of whatever

a fire-eater of politicians

professional conceit his reporters had

them room"

referred to editor's

and

civility.

was

his

as "the long-legged boys in the city



In

— he always

man of extreme consideration time we became intimate friends. I a

companion

in his

hours of leisure, including

those spent with the Watterson family at "Mansfield"

and annual

revelry at the

visits to

New

York

for evenings of

Manhattan Club, the Lambs and the

Lotus. In the

first

in the third

he mingled with

with

artists,

professors and authors. But

above these he enjoyed the of his life

Tammany politicians;

Lambs because

for

most

Watterson was a patron and familiar of the

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG stage, being

113

Among

something of an actor himself.

were Nat Goodwin, Maurice Barrymore

his cronies

and John Drew. In Louisville he

was responsible

for the early en-

couragement of the talent he discerned

in a local girl,

Mary Anderson, who in turn became the first lady of the American stage. And the reason Macauley's Theatre presented in Louisville the finest plays of every

season as long as John Macauley, proprietor of the theater,

and Watterson were

Henry used

his influence to that

Mark Klaw and

ville-born

alive

was

that

Marse

end with the Louis-

other moguls of Broad-

way. Years

later,

New York

on one of the occasions when

Sardou's drama Diplomacy lette

we

with Watterson, ,

in

at the

was

in

attended a revival of

which William

and Marie Doro played the leading

had dined well

I

Cafe Lafayette —

I

roles.

recall

Gil-

We mar-

veling at Watterson's consumption of a goblet of yel-

low Chartreuse

— and my distinguished companion

drowsed through most of the three tain fell,

however, he sat up brightly

comment on

As each curand made a

the performance as follows:

Act One. Of course, done as when Georgie were the

acts.

this is

nothing

like as well

Drew and Maurice Barrymore

stars.

Act Two. This

is

certainly better done than

when

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

114

Georgie

Drew and Maurice B anymore were

the

stars.

Act Three. Of course, done as when Georgie

were the

As

nothing like as well

Drew and Maurice Barrymore

stars.

the last curtain

would

this is

visit

fell,

"William"

speculation as to

Watterson announced we

in his dressing

room.

what he would say was soon

My re-

solved. "William," he exclaimed, clapping Gillette

much better perwhen Georgie Drew and Maurice

on the shoulder, "of course this

formance than

Barrymore played the

is

a

leads."

His extraordinary energy having been fully

re-

we end the Mouquin's, and we did. Per-

stored by his naps, Watterson proposed

evening by supping

haps

I

at

should have asked his

final choice

two judgments he had alternately and so

I shall

never know.

stated.

between the

But I

didn't,

Chapter Eleven

One

dividend of working on the Herald was

its

proximity to inexpensive places of

re-

freshment that nevertheless were of the high quality

which characterized most Louisville restaurants and

made possible office when throat

saloons in those days. This proximity

merely a short absence from one's or

stomach called for instant succor. Less than

fifty

yards of pavement separated the Herald from Sullivan

&

Brach's, as pleasant a saloon-restaurant as

my

has been

privilege to frequent

it

— including 21

West Fifty-second Street, Moriarty's and Cavanagh's in

New York. Each

sitely

afternoon, precisely at four o'clock, exqui-

baked Kentucky hams



am

of the school



them superior to Virginia's were loaded table across from the bar, and fifteen cents

that holds

onto a

I

bought not only

all

the

ham

a patron desired to eat,

but a shot glass of Spring Hill, one of the noblest straight

bourbons that ever was

where nobility

is

the

minimum

there a fledgling reporter

distilled in a state

for whiskey.

met and came

to

know

And cer-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

116

tain leaders of the city

and the Commonwealth

whom

otherwise he might never have encountered.

East of the Herald

office,

on Fourth Street, was

emporium of Humler & Nolan where, although there was a line of the finest Ha-

the elegant tobacco

vanas, impecunious smokers such as

out a hint of patronage,

I

could, with-

buy cheaper brands,

includ-

ing the aforementioned four-cent El Toros. Excellent

and inexpensive late-night meals

for reporters on

American Restaurant on the same block on Market Street; with the kindly proprietors of Alsatian nationality your credit was duty were served

good ment. if

at the

for even long periods of financial embarrass-

And

just

around the corner on Fourth

luck at a crap or poker

rary affluence, of its

Street,

game had provided tempo-

was the Vienna, with

a cuisine worthy

name, including kaffee-mitschlag, true Wurz-

burger and Pilsener, and such wiener schnitzels as

might win the approval

of

any chef along the Ring-

strasse.

We had few things to boast about on the Herald, though we beat "the Old Lady of Green

Street," the

Courier-Journal, with some frequency on the local

news run, and Mr. Macdonald's sharp column on local affairs was not matched by any comparable feature of the competition. But there is a sense of vocation in the staff of an underdog newspaper that, on the Herald, was almost a tangible thing. It was a

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

117

happy day on the Herald when the lordly CourierJournal was humbled by a Herald "beat," as an exclusive

news

story

outsiders better

is

known

pened enough times

though

styled in the trade, as a "scoop."

And

to

this hap-

to dispel the sensitivity

which

accompanies the status of the poor relation. Also,

Herald reporters, such as of gaffes

I,

were encouraged by

by Courier-Journal

pened before our time. One

I

tales

editors that

had hap-

remember

as giving

us extreme pleasure concerned a night telegraph editor

on the other morning newspaper. His

name was

Beriah Griffin; he was described as resembling a stuffed It

owl

in

appearance and a rooster in pomposity.

seems that on the night of January

2,

1905, just

before closing time of the three a.m. edition, an Associated Press bulletin

came

to his

desk that

ported one of the great military events of times: the capture of Port Arthur Griffin,

who had put on

his hat

re-

modern

by the Japanese.

and risen

spiked the bulletin with the comment:

to

"To

go home, hell

with

Port Arthur."

And

only the readers of the Herald

next morning

knew

of the event which, with the de-

feat of the

Russian

fleet in

Tsushima

Strait in

May

1905, marked the collapse of Russia in the 1905-

1906 war.

The

city editor of the

Herald was Ben

S.

Washer,

w ho for looks might have competed with King David if

Bathsheba had made that the criterion for the

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

118

grant of her favors.

On

the model" of Kipling's "Six

Honest Serving Men," he patiently impressed on his crew that a proper news story, in the early paragraphs, must always give the

What and Why

and

When and Where and How and Who. This mandatory formula has been supplanted

in

some degree by that exercise of "advocacy reporting," which accepts slanting and other coloring of the news on the theory that straightforward reporting is for the Dullsville Gazette. And, in untalented hands, it is. But reporters like Frank O'Malley of Dana's New York Sun, Herbert Bayard Swope of the World and Edwin L. James of the New York Times did not pass without leaving a professional posterity. And its members could, if asked, show those who slant and color the news to achieve reflection of their personal prejudices and political doctrines,

how

to

produce an accurate and absorbing

story without neglect of the essential factors.

Representatives of the

new journalism now

fre-

quently commit what are, and always will be, cardinal

— applauding

at press conferences

some statement they approve,

or putting questions

reportorial sins

to the person

being interviewed

in the vein of prose-

cuting attorneys; employing pejorative or laudatory personal terms (the "able" Mr. Roe, the "evasive"

Mr. Doe, "admitted"

as a description of

what was

merely a "concession" of the obvious, and so on).

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG Such

acts

119

and attitudes by reporters were inad-

missible as a matter of course on the newspapers

where

learned the trade.

I

These

attitudes include the formula of recording a

news event

in

terms of the reporter's view of

cial significance," etc.

that the

news

reliable.

And

is

The

inevitable consequence

in a period of history is

when

journalism,

highly suspect for

"advocacy reporting" puts both more

deeply on the defensive. This distrust

when an

is

slanted and the report factually un-

both printed and electronic, credibility,

its "so-

editorial

is

intensified

columnist with clear commitment

to a particular point of

view turns reporter

in a field

of his editorial interest.

In

newspapers

in Louisville

and elsewhere when

I

was plenty of distortion in playing up the welcome news and playing down the unwelcome; of pressures by big advertisers and joined the trade there

favored politicians to omit certain details in a report; of favoritism to individuals; of biased headlines; of

and

denying readers the publication of sound griev-

But these were dictated from the offices of publishers and editors: the poisons were not adminances.

istered

And

by the source of the news, the reportorial in those days, too, there

the antidote of competition

munity

:

was ever

staff.

available

the presence in the com-

of watchful rival newspapers.

This presence

served well as a restraint on practices which take un-

MYSELF WHEN YOUNG

120 fair

advantage of the guarantee of freedom of the

press in the First

Amendment



and

responsibility

honesty being assumed as the exchange for this guarantee.

Now,

many communities, newspaper

in far too

readers no longer have the protection of this punitive

rod of competition from the arrogance and bias that tend to develop in newspapers with a monopoly of their field.

of

And in

monopoly

such situations, while the strength

is sufficient to

reject pressures

advertisers, these pressures in the period

from big

am

I

re-

cording were rarely more than such requests as eliminating the

name

of a store in

which occurred

something that would be "bad for

business.'"

In

terms of news manipulation they were insignificant

when compared with

the pressures of the present

that have induced newspapers, in reports of crime, to

omit details essential

to identification of the crimi-

nal and to public awareness of the population groups

from which crime

is

more

Washington, when the

likely to

emerge. Thus

in

police ask for public assist-

ance in apprehending rapists, burglars and murderers, the readers of

one of

denied knowledge of a

and

its

vital factor in correctional

self-protective activity

The newest member staff, I

was

also the

newspapers are usually

if

the criminal

is

a

Negro.

of the Heral