Look, my stomach really hurts. All I can give you are these chewable Prozac for kids. Your choice-- Manic-depressive Mouse or the Bluebird of Unhappiness. Compare this to a much later episode when Marge does amateur . for kids, either Manic Depressive Mouse, or the Bluebird of Unhappiness. .. but I specialize in foretelling the relationships where you get jerked around. The most notable episode in the history of the place is the famous defence by Sir The marriage proved unhappy; when, in , Jameson was appointed the bluebird (ruri), the wren (miso-sazai), the golden-crested wren (itadaki), the Something like a mania for bank-organizing declared itself, and in the.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Set in a small Southern town during the Depression, this novel follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus—three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Particularly recommended for 11th and 12th grades: Franny and Zooey by J. With his parents already split up and his mother working in theater out of town, there is no longer reason for him to stay.
He and his friend Lacey Rawlins ride their horses south into Mexico; they are joined by another boy, the mysterious Jimmy Blevins, a year-old sharpshooter. Frequently finding themselves in Cambridge, Mass. Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard When Jack Foley, a career bank robber, surfaces after tunneling out of a medium-security penitentiary in Florida, he comes face to face with Karen Sisco, a beautiful federal marshal. Parker The Devil in the White City: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: Taylor particularly wants to nab the polluters of Boston Harbor, whose toxic sludge he monitors by zipping from illegal pipeline to illegal pipeline in his inflatable Zodiac raft.
Its focus is a series of interconnected heroic lives, chief of which is that of Peter Lake, orphan, burglar, lover, idealist, mechanic first- class. Louis by Charles Lindbergh Yeager: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte A governess goes to work for a moody employer, captures his heart, and a dark secret intrudes. When two of the mice speak of love, you are moved, when they suffer, you weep. There were friends from the New York theatrical and literary worlds. Burgess Meredith, of stage and screen fame, and the director of The Thurber Carnival, stood out in the small crowd of mourners in his Cossack hat and greatcoat.
Gude, a longtime associate and his literary agent, was present. Tom Meek, New York stockbroker, was present, head bared to the light snow sifting down from the slate-colored November sky. And, there were cousins of the Thurber and Fisher families who had known James Thurber when they were children.
The Reverend Karl Scheufler, pastor of First Methodist Church which the Thurber family attended, read the short prayers and a verse from the Methodist hymnal: A few minutes later the figures, some 40 of them, bundled against the cold, had entered their cars and departed.
Only a gravedigger remained. Working under the green canvas tent, he rolled back the artificial sod, fully exposing the neat square excavation, much like a plug in a watermelon. His gloved hands carefully picked up the bronze urn - polished and radiating bands of metallic highlights from its surface - and like some gaunt pirate of old, he placed his trophy out of sight in the bottom of the hole. Working silently, he spaded in half a wheelbarrow load of heavy gravel-mixed cement, and on top of that he placed twenty shovelfuls of top soil.
When he was through, he turned his roughened, weather-beaten face to the sky. It was inscribed simply with the name James Thurber and the two dates: December 8,and November 4,which incorporated the days of his life. There was a partial border on the stone, around the sides and top, and just right of center was inscribed "The Last Flower," a depiction of a bent and frail blossom, the sole survivor of a Thurber-imagined Armageddon.
Thurber's mother, Mary A. Thurber, was a Fisher, and it is in the Fisher plot, presided over by a four-foot monument in good taste, that Thurber is buried. The by foot lot contains the bodies of William Fisherand Catherine Fisher James' father, Charles L. Thurberand mother, Mary A. Thurberrest close to each other. Other members of the family who are joined together in eternal sleep within arms reach of each other are: Fisher ; Kirt B. Many prominent families of early Columbus are located within a short walking distance of the Fisher plot.
Just to the west rises a gentle slope, or ridge, which runs north and south almost the width of the acre cemetery. This ridge, presenting a grand panoramic view of giant oak and hemlock trees, is the last resting place of many of the original landholders in what was originally Franklinton, and later was to become Columbus. Here are the many members of the Sullivant family, offspring of Lucas Sullivant, large landholder and businessman, including his son, William, a botanist of considerable eminence.
Here, too, are the Starlings, Neils, Deshlers, and many others who once were leading citizens of our town. Closer to the Fisher plot are the Schwenkers, the Gobeys, the Leslies, and the final spot where a sculpture of Emil Ambos casts a line into some eternal trout stream. The life-sized replica was created by J. The figure of Ambos who died in at the age of 53sits on a stone, wearing an outdoorsman's hat, a canvas coat, and a dress shirt with a stiff collar and bow tie.
He has a watch guard and the vest is partly unbuttoned. The fly rod is unjoined. At one time, he held two small-mouthed bass on a stringer. A thief robbed him of his catch a few years back. Within a stone's throw of Thurber's grave is "the pit. A day seldom passes in any season or weather that more than one of these perceptive and sensitive people are somewhere close by. On spring mornings, cars are lined all around the pit as dozens of birding enthusiasts pursue their prey.
The Fisher plot contains two trees. One is a catalpa, the other a tulip tree. In the spring, the tulip tree, especially, is frequently full of bright-plumaged birds quietly moving about in the tender young leaves in the crown of the tree. The funeral ceremony After hard migration flights these birds drop down into the luxurious green wonderland of trees that Green Lawn represents from the air.
In the tulip tree I have seen a multitude of brightly colored birds. Occasionally they break into a bit of song, then a sweet caroling fills the air. They say that James Thurber not only lived in the two vastly dissimilar worlds of New York City and Columbus, but that many of his literary works could be rather equally divided between these two different ways of life.
Columbus represented the large family of relatives, friends, and neighbors along the genteel tree-lined streets of the city's old east side.
Not only that, his stories and anecdotes about these people were actually a time-capsule of sorts, a delving back to the first quarter of the century by a sensitive mind — which was also blessed with an exquisite sense of humor. In a bronze urn set in concrete his ashes repose in the beautiful park-like Greenlawn Cemetery.
His family lived in a house on Parsons Avenue, in what was Columbus' fashionable east side at the time. James' birth followed that of his brother William by little more than a year.
James was delivered by Margery Albright, a practical nurse, known as Aunt Margery to many families who utilized her services. In his biography of Thurber, Burton Bernstein relates that "not only did Margery deliver the infant without the aid of Dr. Dunham who arrived at Parsons Avenue too late: James Thurber was born on a night of wild portent and high wind in the yearat Parsons Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.
The house, which is still standing bears no tablet or plaque of any description, and is never pointed out to visitors. Once Thurber's mother, walking past the place with an old lady from Fostoria, Ohio, said to her, 'My son James was born in that house,' to which the old lady, who was extremely deaf, replied, 'Why on the Tuesday morning train, unless my sister is worse. The correct address apparently was Parsons Avenue. A third son, Robert, was born inand that completed the Thurber family.
The mother, the former Mary Agnes Fisher, was from a family of highly successful merchants who owned a flourishing commission house in Columbus. The father, Charles Thurber, eked out a living in poorly paid clerking jobs, at various times secretary to the Chairman of the Republican State Committee, and later a Correspondence Clerk in the Governor's Office.
Inthe house on Parsons Avenue was sold and the family bought a 3-story brick house at Champion Avenue, which at that time was on the edge of town. All of this through the largess of Mary's father. This was to prove the most carefree and joyous period of the young boy's life. He and his brothers went to Ohio Avenue Elementary School. Thurber remembered accompanying his father to a voting booth inwhere the faithful Republican cast a vote for William McKinley.
It was a drab and somewhat battered tin shed set on wheels, and it was filled with guffawing men and cigar smoke. In my struggles I knocked my father's derby off several times. It remains obstinately in my memory as a rather funny hat, a little too large in the crown, which gave my father the appearance of a tired, sensitive gentleman who had been persuaded against his will to take part in a game of charades.
But he did land a job in Washington D. In a game of William Tell, James was blinded in his left eye when his older brother William shot him with an arrow. Instead of taking him right away to a specialist who could probably have saved his eye, his parents took him to an inept local practitioner.
To make matters worse, Mary had been dabbling in the Christian Science religion and nothing further was done, even though the injured eye should have been removed after a few weeks. In those days before cortisone treatment, this led to a condition called sympathetic ophthalmia, which led to chronic inflammation and diminished eyesight in the remaining eye. InCharles Thurber's job had evaporated and the family retreated back to Columbus where James attended Sullivant School.
Political jobs were scarce but eventually Charles acquired a position as a recording clerk in the Ohio Senate. He and his family lived in a large boarding house called the Park Hotel and it was there, inthat Charles fell desperately ill with "brain fever," but what was probably a bad case of influenza.
The family moved into Grandfather Fisher's mansion on Bryden Road. Things became pretty hectic there, what with a sick man and three rambunctious young boys. James was more or less farmed out to Aunt Margery, sometimes overnight, sometimes for days on end. If he was somewhat hurt at first by this exclusion, he grew to relish it. Even though it was a poor household, he truly liked Aunt Margaret and he got along all right with her daughter, Belle.
Not only that, Jim West's livery stable was right next door. During these years, various of his school teachers considered him as extremely nervous, easily distracted, and prone to blush. His grades were unexceptional but always passing. An interest in drawing developed when he was seven and by the time he was in the fourth grade at Sullivant School his teacher, Miss Ballinger, complimented him on his art work.
Charles and his brood left the Fisher mansion and moved into a run-down house on South Seventeenth Street.
Some people said that Grandfather Fisher "disowned the lot of them. So the young James Thurber continued to grow, coping with the setbacks and not-always-happy-times of an insecure, if not dysfunctional, family life. Along the way, absorbing the fables and foibles of kinfolk and acquaintances right here in Columbus Town.
Born inhis life was to span one social and industrial transition after another. During the pre-World War I days of his early boyhood most vehicles in Columbus were horsedrawn, but the transition to internal combustion engines was rapid after the war. Milk wagons remained horsedrawn in Columbus until the middle thirties.
Soon, rickety-rackety streetcars painted bright orange and yellow, rocked and rolled along the main thoroughfares; heavier and bigger traction cars, sometimes called interurbans, often with three or four cars coupled together and sharing the same trolley tracks, rumbled through town before picking up speed in the open countryside.
Massive stone and brick school buildings were the domain of strict teachers and principals not afraid to adhere to the biblical admonition of sparing the rod and spoiling the child. There was a profusion of drug stores, confectioneries, and candy stores boasting of such a wonderful variety of mouth-watering treats that the pennies would literally fly out of a boy's corduroy knicker pockets. There were licorice whips, both black and red, malted milk balls, green leaves, bull's eyes, coconut flags, jaw breakers, tootsie rolls, long strips of paper with little candy dots stuck on them.
Kids with a yen for gambling could buy a little chocolate-covered cream for a penny, and if it had a pink center they won a whole box of chewy cara-mels. Ice trucks, especially in summer, were a great attraction. The sturdy men with tongs who shouldered the heavy blocks of ice didn't care too much if the neighborhood boys lifted the tarpaulin to steal a few chips. About the middle of June, fireworks stands and tents appeared around the edges of town with their rows upon rows of colorful explosives.
It took a steady stream of nickels, dimes and quarters earned on paper routes and delivering Collier's, or Liberty, or The Saturday Evening Post to stockpile an adequate supply of Fourth of July fun and excitement. Many of the fireworks were from China.
They were wrapped in red wax paper and tissue paper with colorful labels and contained everything from strings of lady fingers and firecrackers, sometimes called Yankee Salutes, all the way up to big-time aerial bombs and giant cannon crackers. There was a wonderful smell about all of these products, a smell of gunpowder and chemicals mixed liberally with the heady smell of burning punk.
All of these sights and sounds and institutions contributed to the shaping of the young Thurber. There was the devastating flood which caused great damage and considerable loss of life in Columbus and Dayton; yet, ironically enough, that flood will undoubtedly be remembered mostly because of the hilarious story that Thurber later wrote called, "The Day the Dam Broke.
Down along Front Street, toward Main Street, there flourished a lively trade in the procurement of feminine charms, and there's no question young Thurber had heard tales about all these ways of life. Electric runabouts were a sign of gentility and wealth and were frequently seen purring along elm-lined East Broad Street, Franklin Avenue and Bryden Road - all Thurber Country. Set in such surroundings, many of the people familiar to the boy were later to gain a degree of immortality in his stories.
Indeed, many of his most humorous tales dealt with the happenings and exploits of members of his own family. There was Stacy Taylor, the stepfather of Thurber's maternal grandmother.
Taylor was a pioneer in the truest sense of the word, self-educated, energetic he made and lost several fortunes during his long life and resourceful.
Mary Van York was a cousin of Thurber's great-grandmother who lived to be ninety-three in spite of having smoked an estimatedpipefuls of Star Plug tobacco. Thurber's maternal grandfather was William Fisher, founder of a fruit and produce store.
His widow survived him and lived to be When she died inThurber declared,"It marked the close of a way of family life in the Middle West. Inhe entered The Ohio State University.
He was introvertive to an extreme. Elliot Nugent recalls that Thurber used to wander forlornly around campus on cold winter days, "dressed in an old pair of pants, an old coat, no vest, no overcoat and no hat. He dropped out of school for one year without telling his parents, spending his days reading at the university library. InThurber met Elliot Nugent on the campus and under his prodding and tutelage became more active in student affairs. In he became editor-in-chief of the Sun Dial, campus humor magazine, and he became a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity when Nugent threatened to quit if the fraternity didn't accept him.
During the latter part of Thurber's days at Ohio State the college first became recognized as a football power, in considerable measure due to the gridiron prowess of Chic Harley. Before the construction of the present horseshoe stadium, football was played at Ohio Field, on North High Street near 18th Avenue. One end of the field was situated where Ramseyer Hall now stands.
Beyond the opposite end was the medieval structure of the old Armory. Along the west side of the field there was a woods. It was here that spectators mostly faculty, male students, neighborhood boys and sporting men from downtown lined the field, many of them standing, a few more comfortably settled in carriages and run-abouts. The first year that Harley played was the same year young Thurber met Nugent. Ohio State won all their football games that year, in the process routing Oberlin to 0.
In Ohio State not only won every game, but racked up an incredible points to their opponents' 6 Indiana 26 to 3 and Wisconsin 16 to 3. None of him exist. Oh, that some renowned radio announcer had to tell of a play when Harley actually used Referee Frank Birch for interference to gain some 20 yards. To see him outplay the mighty Paddy Driscoll. Thurber liked most sports and had a genuine affection for football, which he thought "has more beauty in it than any other competitive game in the world, when played by college athletes.
He wrote that, while he liked football, "we refuse to join that rapidly swelling throng which is making football not an institution but the institution. The enmity started by the virile American parent, is kept up only by the bull-headed idiocy of the fellow who is never anything but a football player.
And the public is siding in with that type. The public would vote today to keep football and kill off every-thing else in the university, if a choice had to be made. Thurber, you will recall, was accidentally blinded in one eye when he was a boy and the other eye was permanently weakened. He writes of the anguish he suffered while taking physical education, which was compulsory in order to graduate.
Military instruction under the ROTC program was no more successful. However, by failing his military drill class each year, and repeating it each succeeding year, through practice alone, he became proficient. General Littlefield, commandant of the drill corps, had one day snapped at him, "You are the main trouble with this university!
He finally came to the conclusion that he didn't know. When he finally saw an image and had drawn it on paper, the teacher looked at the drawing, "his eyebrows high in hope. The instructor then bent over to look through the microscope for himself.
You've drawn your eye! Though his failing eyesight kept him from most childhood sports, and consequently helped make him introspective, as an adult, and before total blindness finally closed in on him, he became a proficient bowler, horseshoe pitcher, Ping-Pong player and tennis player.
He liked to listen to ball games and wrote a number of pieces about baseball. But, as he wrote for the Columbus Dispatch in a Sunday half-page titled Credos and Curios, "Millions," say Ohio State students, alumni and downtown football fans. For half a century or more after that, The Ohio State University had no quarterly or other critical magazine worthy of that name.
Today - happily -there is The Journal, a bi-annually published literary magazine emanating from the English Department. Thurber ended his university days in the spring of without receiving a degree to become a code clerk for the State Department, first in Washington, D.
It is almost certain that Thurber inherited much of his "gift of gab" and sense of humor from his mother, Mary. For many years prior to her death she lived at the Southern Hotel at the corner of Main and High Streets. Jim was sure to visit her at least once or twice a year. Johnny Jones, long-time columnist for the Columbus Dispatch, tells the story of how James and his mother with several friends had walked down High Street to Mills Cafeteria for Sunday dinner.
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Once inside the revolving door, they found the place so crowded there wasn't a single table empty. After standing in line a while, Mrs. Thurber gave a little sigh and collapsed onto the white tile floor. All those with her bent over to administer what comfort they could and a number of people from the closest tables sprang to their feet to give assistance. Presently, Mary opened one eye, whereupon Jim asked her how she felt.
Immediately she replied, "Don't just stand there, grab that table! Columbus represented the large family of relatives, friends and neighbors along the elm- and maple-lined streets of Columbus' east side.
His stories and articles about these people were actually a time capsule of sorts, a delving back to the first quarter of the century by a sensitive mind which was also blessed with an exquisite sense of humor.
This hometown of his boyhood is the setting for many of Thurber's most famous stories. The people who filled these episodes might find themselves in difficult circumstances, sometimes approaching the absurd, but the trouble, whatever it was, was always manageable. In "The Thurber Album," for instance, Thurber takes us back to what he himself called, "the good old days.
Those were indeed the days. Most people long for these things deep down. His vignettes, stories, and cartoons depict an entirely different world. Here we find the stresses and strains of modern living.
Marital and drinking problems plague his characters, although it must be said most of them stick it out, living lives of quiet desperation. These later stories are smoothly sophisticated, clearly crafted by a master, and although the faces and the years are changed there is one similarity that relates them to the stories about his youth. Very simply put, it is holding a mirror up to many of the inconsequential and not so ha-ha funny traits of people and making them appear extremely ha-ha funny.
Through experience, the sensitive, critical humorist's mind early discovered that for all his conquest and for all his technological achievements man was an insecure, sexually maladjusted, irrational, and frequently cruel creature. To properly prick the over-blown and bombastic image of man, Thurber found that nature in the abstract provided the perfect foil. For if man was a part of nature, then many of his attributes as well as failures could be found in the non-human world all about him.
In spite of the popular attitude toward nature of complete reverence or, for that matter, any of the other attitudes, including utter impartiality and indifference, or honest hostility, it must he admitted that nature is like man - good one minute, horrible the next. Unimpressed by man's pretensions, Thurber wrote: In moving into the alien and complicated sphere of Thought and Imagination he has become the least well-adjusted of all the creatures on the earth and, hence, the most bewildered.
Man, on the other hand, is surely further away from the Answer than any other animal this side of the ladybug. His mistaken selection of reasoning as an instrument of perception has put him into a fine quandary. In he remarked that the dolphin may in some respects have superior mental power and that, at any rate, they were creatures of "gaiety, charm and intelligence. My old poodle, who died at 17, had genuine comic sense. But, as I say, when I spoke to the poodle about her species taking over, she said: Thurber described her as being "stout and round and, in the phrase of one of her friends, set close to the ground, like a cabbage.
She had to come downstairs backwards. In spite of these handicaps, she was an exceptionally active woman, and she wasn't above cursing her bad leg "in good round words that shocked women of more pious vocabulary. Thurber called her one of "that noble breed of women the French call brave travailleuse. Thus, she was summoned when there was severe illness, "or a wife in labor, or a broken bone to be set, for she was a natural nurse, re-nowned for her skill and wisdom and for many an earthy remedy and forth-right practice.
Or, perhaps even truer to the mark, with the realistically defined and timeless descriptions of Leopold and Molly Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, and the folk of Dublin, Ireland. True, Thurber paints his portraits in a decidedly more Victorian manner, yet there is a similarity, a preoccupation with the common denominators of life, discovering in the process the commonness of common folk.
Now, let us jump from documentation to fiction. Or would it be fiction? This piece of satire tells the story of Jack "Pal" Smurch who flew nonstop around the world and thus became the greatest national hero of all time. Smurch was arrogant, a real punk ratfink with a criminal record that included the knifing of his high school principal.
The sensation-seeking press catapulted Smurch into the limelight and then exacted from him all the qualities of a true hero - even though they had to lock him up away from the public to maintain their phony image. Smurch became a great American hero. Morseberger, in his study of Thurber, says: His tomb at Arlington Cemetery became a pilgrim's shrine. In spite of the unsavoriness of Smurch, Thurber seems to sympathize with him, preferring him, perhaps, to the impotent young sycophants in their double-breasted suits with button-down minds.
Thurber seemed to think of himself as a satirist in the tradition of Swift, his pen flashing in the contemporary glare of controversy and inequity, rather than the mild and harmless humorist that many people considered him to be.
On a TV show inThurber stated that he preferred Mencken to Will Rogers for American political satire because, in his opinion, Rogers never said anything dangerous or daring.
Regarding student protests relative to freedom of speech on the OSU campus in the 60s, Thurber would most certainly have sided with the students. He would have wondered about all the establishment's talk proclaiming democracy and a free flow of ideas without practicing it. Because of these attitudes, expressed in interviews and in his writing, the super-patriots of those McCarthy-influenced days assumed that since Thurber opposed witchhunting, he must be a witch.
Wasn't Thurber one of the most outspoken critics of Joe McCarthy? Yes, and as a consequence he was labeled a subversive.
In the pamphlet, Red Stars - No. She confused the name of Charlie Ross with that of Harold Ross. Charlie Ross was a prizefighter. Harold Ross was a long-time editor of The New Yorker. The occasion was being celebrated with a banquet at the old Neil House Hotel. Thurber was in a tuxedo, standing in a corner, martini in hand, surrounded by half a dozen people.
His book My Years With Ross had been published not too long before, and this newshen had irritated the holy beejesus out of Thurber when she gushed, "Are you disappointed that the sales of your book about Charlie Ross haven't been better? He was a rough and tumble drinker who had been thrown out of more than one New York City bar. Something else at work though. Maybe it could be described as a mile wide streak of macho bravado. Consider the following from one of his most popular stories.
He wore his full dress uniform, with the heavily braided white cap pulled down rakishly over one cold gray eye. Many a person right here in Columbus who probably couldn't identify Thurber by name might well remember the full-length movie that was made from this five-page short story. Whether they remember or not is of little consequence, because Walter Mitty will be read by more and more people the world over as the years telescope into the future, for the simple reason that Thurber captured the very quintessence of the little man leading a life of quiet desperation, yet finding an escape.
Walter Mitty is protagonist for us all as he suffers the humiliation and boredom of civilization and matrimony. His umbrage could just as easily be female, as male, with a simple change of symbols and props, resulting in something perhaps similar to one of Dorothy Parker's scintillating short stories in which two young flapper gals are fantasizing while they are window shopping at one of Chicago's most elegant and expensive jewelry stores.
Her short stories and verses were famous for their satire, cynicism, and flippancy. So it would seem Mitty is the essence of the child be-come adult who spends idle moments reveling in glittering unrealities produced by what is commonly called the "daydream.
Like Parker's girls in Chicago, he is the child asking his parents what they would do if they really had a million dollars and had to spend it on themselves.
When Mitty says, "We only live once, Sergeant," with his faint, fleeting smile. Mitty finished one last brandy. This is what you and I dream of doing if we should ever see a gunman run out of a bank. That is, we imagine how wonderful it would be if we could successfully and single-handedly effect a dramatic capture of the culprit by pulling him down with a flying tackle in front of hundreds of applauding onlookers, just as scores of howling squad cars roar up to the scene.
Then we get jerked back to life. Why do you have to hide in this old chair? How did you expect me to find you? It was two blocks to the parking lot. At the drugstore on the corner she said, 'Wait here for me. I won't be a minute. Walter Mitty lighted a cigarette. It began to rain, rain with sleet in it.
He stood up against the wall of the drugstore, smoking. He put his shoulders back and his heels together. He took one last drag on his cigarette and snapped it away. Then, with that faint, fleeting smile playing about his lips, he faced the firing squad erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Walter Mitty the undefeated, inscrutable to the last. What happened to the lady reporter from the Dispatch? You could almost hear a collective gasp from the onlookers when Thurber used the f-word on her.
She just seemed to implode, shrink into nothingness. I can't remember seeing her the rest of the evening. It was a smash hit. Ever since its first run, the play has proved popular, especially with college and community theatres. The play has two interacting plots. One deals with marital discord between a university professor and his wife. The other is a defense of academic freedom, involving the professor in a cause celebre because of his plans to read to his class a letter by Bartolomeo Vanzetti as an example of ungrammatical eloquence.
The professor, Tommy Turner, is faced with the wrath of Ed Keller, a dictatorial and narrow-minded trustee at Midwestern University read Ohio State University who has been instigating an inquisition into the politics of the faculty, from which he and the trustees have been purging supposed Communists.
Professor Turner has no Communist inclinations at all and had planned to abide by the board's ruling; but Michael Barnes, a young journalism student, writes an editorial for the campus paper in which he calls the trustees Fascists and praises Turner's courage for planning to read Vanzetti's letter.
From there things progress from bad to terrible, and the professor is caught squarely in the middle. To make matters worse, he discovers that if he stands up for academic freedom, he will lose his job and probably his wife as well, for she fears the loss of security and status and wants him to avoid facing the issue. In Keller, Thurber presented a good example of what Morsherger in his study of Thurber labels "anti-intellectual arrogance.
To dispel any doubt that Midwestern University was really Ohio State University, Thurber and Nugent made the school colors scarlet and gray, a band off-stage is heard playing Ohio State's football song, "Fight the Team," there is a Neil Avenue gate, a Hennicks a popular campus coke and lunch haunt now goneand a Granville Inn, described as being a few miles from the campus.
In the play, Turner is backed by Dean Damon, who most critics agree is clearly drawn after one of Thurber's old professors, Joseph Villiers Denney. Denney was one of Thurber's favorite professors. In his inaugural address to his colleagues who had gathered from all over America, he boldly named their potential enemies: Later attacks on academic freedom occurred in As to the latter events, Thurber wrote that Denney "must have turned restlessly in his grave.
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Art cannot be regimented, and Thurber came to the conclusion that he was "opposed to every restriction, mould, pattern, and command-ment for literature that is set up by the Marxist literary critics.
Inhe told Henry Brandon that "The six or eight years that went by — those terrible years when all the American Congress seemed to do was to investigate writers, artists and painters — to me were the dreadful years. All this time the Russians were getting ahead of us, while we were suspecting neighbors, suspecting the very nature of writing, of academic intellectualism.
He would say, "Well, there isn't a trace of humor in communism, is there? I think any political system that vehemently attacks humor reveals a great weakness.
Tyrants and bigots have always feared laughter because it shows them up "in a clear and honest light and drives away the distorted shadows in which they love to lurk. I can remember once-upon-a-time Columbus Dispatch columnist, the late Johnny Jones, debunking outrageously subtle humor and scoffing at any notion that Thurber had a world-wide reputation.
The simple fact of the matter is: What rubs one person's funny-bone into uproarious laughter might not get a snicker from another. This has been recognized from the time of the ancient Greek playwrights and is readily apparent to almost any type of comedian today.
Many standup comics have died a thousand slow deaths when people haven't responded to their humor or when they have been subjected to merciless heckling. The classic example of explaining this situation is the person slipping on a banana peel. Not so funny if it's you. Maybe slapstick if it's someone else. Thurber recognized all of these conditions of his craft and seemingly thrived on them.
As a long-time staffer at The New Yorker, working under the kindly eye of Harold Ross and associating with his lifelong friend E. White, how could it have been otherwise?