Memoranda Of A Decade


I just want to know can I do you a whaleuva favor? Honest! No kiddingl I know you’re interested in getting a house, not merely a place where you hang up the old bonnet but a love-nest for the wife and kiddies—and maybe for the flivver out beyant (be sure and spell that b-e-y-a-n-t, Miss McGoun) the spud garden. Say, did you ever stop to think that we’re here to save you trouble? That’s how we make a living —folks don’t pay us for our lovely beauty! Now take a look:

Sit right down at the handsome carved mahogany escritoire and shoot us in a line telling us just what you want, and if we can find it we’ll come hopping down your lane with the good tidings, and if we can’t, we won’t bother you. …

Yours for service

Dictation over, with its need of sitting and thinking instead of bustling around and making a noise and really doing something, Babbitt sat creakily back in his revolving desk-chair and beamed on Miss McGoun [his secretary]. He was conscious of her as a girl, of black bobbed hair against demure cheeks. A longing which was indistinguishable from loneliness enfeebled him. While she waited, tapping a long, precise pencil-point on the desk-tablet, he half identified her with the fairy girl of his dreams. He imagined their eyes meeting with terrifying recognition; imagined touching her lips with frightened reverence and— She was chirping, “Any more, Mist’ Babbitt?” He grunted, “That winds it up, I guess,” and turned heavily away.

For all his wandering thoughts, they had never been more intimate than this. He often reflected, “Nev” forget how old Jake Offutt said a wise bird never goes love-making in his own office or his own home. Start trouble. Sure. But—”

In twenty-three years of married life he had peered uneasily at every graceful ankle, every soft shoulder; in thought he had treasured them; but not once had he hazarded respectability by adventuring. Now, as he calculated the cost of repapering the Styles house, he was restless again, discontented about nothing and everything, ashamed of his discontentment, and lonely for the fairy girl.


One of the striking characteristics of the era of Coolidge Prosperity was the unparalleled rapidity and unanimity with which millions of men and women turned their attention, their talk, and their emotional interest upon a series of tremendous trifles—a heavyweight boxing-match, a murder trial, a new automobile model, a transatlantic flight. … Public spirit was at low ebb; over the World Court, the oil scandals, the Nicaraguan situation, the American people as a whole refused to bother themselves. They gave their energies to triumphant business, and for the rest they were in holiday mood. …

On October ig, 1924, as President Coolidge was winding up his successful campaign for election in his own right, Grantland Rice sat in the press box at the Polo Grounds and tapped out the following story for the New York Herald Tribune sports page: Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army football team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.

A cyclone can’t be snared. It may be surrounded, but somewhere it breaks through to keep on going. When the cyclone starts from South Bend, where the candle lights still gleam through the Indiana sycamores, those in the way must take to storm cellars at top speed. Yesterday the cyclone struck again as Notre Dame beat the Army, 13 to 7 …

We doubt that any team in the country could have beaten [Knute] Rockne’s array yesterday afternoon, East or West. It was a great football team brilliantly directed, a team of speed, power and team play. The Army has no cause for gloom over its showing. It played first class football against more speed than it could match.

Those who have tackled a cyclone can understand.

And everywhere, that year, a new craze, the crossword puzzle, was catching on. Publishers sold hundreds of thousands of puzzle books, with pencils attached. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad went so far as to put dictionaries on all its main-line trains. The Bookman, a literary journal, satirized the craze by inventing a dialogue in crossword puzzle-ese between two housewives: M RS. W. What is that you are working at, my dear? M RS. F. I’m tatting Joe’s initial on his moreen vest. Are you making that ebon garment for yourself? M RS. W. Yea. Just a black dress for every day. Henry says I look rather naif in black. M RS. F. Well, perhaps; but it’s a bit too anile for me. Give me something in indigo or, say, ecru. M RS. W. Quite right. There is really no neb in such solemn vestments. M RS. F. Stet. M RS. W. By the way, didn’t I hear that your little Junior met with an accident? M RS. F. Yes. The little oaf fell from an apse and fractured his artus. MRS. W. Egad!

Mr. Coolidge was not famed for his patronage of the arts: