beautiful Xmas trees formed a coniferous vista covering rolling countryside
like a bright green mansard as far as the eye could see. It was a stirringly
impressive sight, and I told him so, the old gentleman at my side, proud as
Punch of this hobby of his. Henry Jeffers was one of the kindliest, most
interesting men I've ever known, and some of my fondest recollections are of
hours spent in his company.
great fir factory spread over many miles of southwestern Pennsylvania was
perhaps the least of his many and varied accomplishments, although it took
second place to none in his personal preference. The first time I met him,
on his neat, meticulous Walker-Gordon dairy at Plainsboro, he told me of his
woodlands up around Kingsley near Harford, his birthplace.
was inspecting the "Rotolactor" at the time; the 100-ton carousel
without music that takes cows on a twelve-minute merry-go-ride, washing,
drying and milking them in the process. Mr. Jeffers had invented the rotary
milking machine for his pet bovine, Elsie. I had admired it at the World's
Fair a few years before. And now here it was in this beautiful farm outside
Princeton, and I was receiving a course in its intricacies from the inventor
knew Henry Jeffers by repute as president of Walker-Gordon, as an ingenious
pioneer who had produced such progressive advances in dairying as the
Jeffers Bacteriology Counter and Jeffers Feed Calculator. I knew him, too,
as a bank director in Princeton, a trustee of the University of
Pennsylvania, president of the State Board of Regents and chairman of the
Republican State Committee.
was this last which intrigued me most at the moment, for I was head over
heels in a political campaign, one in
which Mr. Jeffers, I felt, could play a most important part.
Smith, the austere Princetonian, was making his first bid for election to
the United States Senate. The Democratic nominee opposing him was Elmer Wene.
I was in charge of Wene's publicity.
Jeffers had given up the GOP state chairmanship and, I was given to
understand, had absolutely no love whatsoever for Alex Smith. Further, he
was one of the state's top agriculturists, and I had reason to suspect he
would be kindly disposed toward the candidacy of the Vineland poultryman.
I went to Plainfield to visit with Mr. Jeffers, conscious of the value of a
statement from the recent Republican State chairman in behalf of the
got the statement ultimately, but it took several visits and many
pleasurable hours in the prodigal company of Mr. Jeffers before he
consented—for which I've always been grateful. For the delay, I mean.
Pleasant are the memories of meetings and parties at Plainsboro, and on the
Jeffers farms over Pennsylvania way. I think he had twenty in all, there in
rugged Susquehanna county.
lost the election, despite Mr. Jeffers' considerable help, thanks to a
double-x by one Frank Hague. Perhaps double-cross is too strong a term to
use in this instance. The Boss didn't really do in Wene deliberately; he
simply sacrificed him on the altar of a larger mission, at least as he saw
was the year Walter Edge was trying to revise the State Constitution, and
the question was on the general election ballot. Hague was firmly convinced
its approval by the people would deal irreparable damage to the Democratic
party. It may be recalled that some years later, when Edge's successor,
Governor Driscoll, put through revision, concessions were made to the
Democracy to overcome its objections.
Hague made defeat of the Edge revision a crusade, and he told me very
frankly that he didn't give a hoot in Hades about Wene or any other
candidate that year; the all important thing was to lick revision. Otherwise
the party was out of business.
did lick revision, by the simple expedient of throwing his candidates down
the trade rivers. The Bergen county results were a case in point: the
referendum just about broke even there, but Smith carried it by 80,000 votes
—and that was before the days of uncovered corruption and tremendous
majorities out of Bergen. What happened was obvious enough: the Bergen
Demmie leadership concentrated on the fight against revision, didn't push
Wene, while the GOP ignored revision and put all its efforts behind Smith. A
cozy, convenient arrangement all around.
was the same in other counties that Hague could manipulate. With it all,
Wene came within a hair's breadth of winning. He seems to have a penchant
for being caught in such situations: he'd have licked Driscoll in 1949 and
become governor had he not been betrayed by John Kenny in the since exposed
bi-partisan Dickerson deal.
Elmer—always in the right place at the wrong time.
I've thought of all this since news of Mr. Jeffers' death in Princeton
Hospital. He was up in years—I know he was past seventy in those days
about which I'm reminiscing—and they go back a decade. But he was a
remarkably keen man. I can see him yet, receiving my enthusiastic acclamations
about Elsie and her Rotolactor toy with quiet modesty, blurting out
suddenly: "You ought to see my Christmas trees."
love to," I assured him, and shortly I did, and it was a weekend I'll
never forget. Neither shall I forget Henry Jeffers. One encounters too few
men of his stature in this prosaic old meandering through life.
seemed passing strange that the aerial phenomenon should have occurred,
there in the northern sky, on the night of July 15, the holiday sacred to
Castor and Pollux. They're the sons of Jupiter himself, and, after the
Argonautic expedition, were slain in the war with Idas and Lynceus,
whereupon Jove placed them among the stars as Gemini, the Twins. So, at
least, legend has it.
case you wonder how Zeus came to have mortal sons, mythology is full of the
earthly and earthy goings-on of the boss-man of all the gods who frequently
left his throne high up on Mount Olympus in Thessaly and, much to Juno's
chagrin, awooing went.
old boy was not one to worry about constancy, nor did he pay much heed to
the words of antiquity's philosophers. Certainly he defied Aristotle's
warning: "In an irrational being the desire for pleasure is
insatiable even if it tries every source of gratification, and the exercise
of appetite increases its innate force."
he must have spurned such advice as Agathon's: "Look not round at the
depraved morals of the others, but run straight along the line without
deviating from it." And Theophrastus: "The offenses which are
committed through desire are more blamable than those which are committed
through anger, for the one is compelled by pain, but the other is moved by
one's own impulse to do wrong."
ways of the moral man," Confucius said, "are unobtrusive and yet
they grow more and more in power and evidence; whereas the ways of the
vulgar person are ostentatious but lose more and more in influence until
they perish and disappear."
found that pleasure is not a bad thing in itself, but insisted the means
which produce it often bring with them disturbances many times greater than
may be had in abundance without trouble," observed Hesiod; "the
way is smooth and her dwelling-place is near. But before virtue the gods
have set toil."
challenging, Plutarch declared: "How mad a thing human nature is when
once possessed with any passion .... The better pleasures gained in
successful action and effort leave the baser appetites no time or
if Jupe heard such words, he chose to ignore them. Varied were the disguises
he wore for his excursions into
immortal immorality: to Leda he was a swan, and following frequent visits
from Cygnus emerged not only Castor and Pollux but beauteous Helen, she
whose flight with the shepherd Paris from Sparta precipitated the Trojan
War, theme of the greatest poems of antiquity: Homer's and Virgil's.
deceive Europa, daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor, Zeus assumed the
form of a bull—remember Tennyson's "Sweet Europa's mantle blew
unclasp'd, from off her shoulder backward borne: from one hand droop'd a
crocus; one hand grasp'd the mild bull's golden horn." Minos,
Rha-damanthus and Sarpedon came eventually of that stunt.
father, Acrisius, king of Argos, imprisoned her in a tower of brass to foil
Jupiter, but the god effected his entrance into the brazen tomb in the form
of a golden shower. Result: Perseus, conqueror of the Gorgon monster Medusa.
Juno banished Latona to Delos, a rock in the Aegean Sea, and there the
daughter of the Titans presented Jove with Apollo and Diana, the sun god and
lo, daughter of the river god Inachus, was turned into a heifer and guarded
by Argus, sentinel of the heavens, until rescued by Mercury; then Hera
forced her to flee over the whole world, roaming the plains of Illyria, ascending
Mt. Haemus, crossing the Thracian Strait and swimming the Ionian Sea to
which she gave her name. Her disguise and flight evidently kept her
occupied, for there is no record of issue.
there were others: Maia, mother of winged Mercury . . . Dione, whose
daughter was the ravishing Venus . . . Al-cimena, who bore the mighty
Hercules . . . Semele, mother of fun-loving Bacchus . . . Aegena, who
produced Aeacus . . . Callistondo, who with her son Areas became the
never-setting Great and Little Bear carrying Cynosure the Pole-star in their
tail, were among goddesses and nymphs of mortal mold alike who helped Zeus
while away the hours when he wasn't ruling Hellas or Rome.
of course, there was Mnemosyne, with whom Jove's extra-marital relations
produced the Muses: Calliope, muse of epic poetry; Clic, of history; Euterpe,
of lyric poetry; Melpomene, of tragedy; Terpsichore, choral dance and song;
Erato, love-poetry; Polyhymnia, sacred poetry; Urania, astrology; Thalia,
pardon my Bullfinch! How'd I get involved in that? Oh, yes—the Dioscuri. I
don't know whether or not you were outside sometime past midnight that
particular Wednesday, but if you happened to be floating on a lake in a
canoe as a heat-escape device, with millions of twinkling stars forming a
gold-specked canopy overhead, you couldn't have missed it.
Orion, slain by Phoebe's fatal love, fated since to pursue the Pleiades
through the sky, was following his scheduled course, when suddenly a
brilliant light swept the heavens like Phaeton's fiery ride of desolation.
The Valky-rios might have set forth on one of their borealic missions,
flashing across the northern skies in quest of new blood for Valhalla. Or it
could have been something akin to flying saucers—and I don't mean the kind
Joe Joh saw when he thrust a probing finger at the waitress.
the cause, the result was a display that momentarily rivaled The
Bulletin's brilliant Independence Day fireworks fete champetre
which in turn was by far the greatest presentation of man-made
pyrotechnics I've seen in forty-odd years of faithful viewing—and that
includes the annual dillies Hammonton used to put on in the days of my youth
in Berlin. I never tire of those melanges of prismatic projectiles—I
Fairmount Park festival offered some spectacularly new and terrific features
that eclipse all past oh-and-ah eliciters, but it still lacked the sheer
majesty and dramatics of that unexpected, unexplained shaft of brilliance
that swept the heavens. It was a picturesque month, July.
Village, the political housing project peopled largely by city employees,
had to install its own police force in an effort to curb vandalism. This is
the same place where a husband and wife were jailed for using their
tax-supported apartment as a sin-den for teen-agers. The police blotters are
full of Ablett Village addresses .... Average income on Labor Day was 21%
higher than before the Korean war, twice the increase in the cost of living
during that period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which
places both earnings and employment at record highs. A total of 63,408,000
at work .... America's antibiotic industry produced
1,320,000 pounds of
life-saving drugs worth $150,000,000
last year .... Some character named Calvin Hoffman now is trying to prove
Shakespeare's works were written by Christopher Marlowe. These jerks are as
screwy as the professors who insist a curve ball doesn't break .... September
13 will go down in video history as a landmark. That night the world's two
great glamour pusses, Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner, made their TV debut:
for $7500 and $5000 respectively .... Now that we've rid the airways of Bill
Stern, can't we do something about Jack Drees? He alone saw Henry Davis
blocking those sharp jolting straight rights of Johnny Gonsalves that won
the Oakland flash a unanimous decision. So unschooled is Drees in fisticuffs
that he calls a right cross a hook! And Jimmy Powers—the first we knew
Charley Riley's eye had been cut by Glen Flanagan was several rounds later
when the doc climbed into the ring to examine it, and found it too grievous
a wound to permit the bout to go on. Can't these birds understand that it's
such information as that we want, not their opinion of the action which we
can see for ourselves? . . . Truck drivers blame the owners' high pressure
schedules for highballing along the highways in disregard alike of speed
limits and the welfare of mere motorcars. Does that account for the
seeming immunity they enjoy in New Jersey? . . . Take it from a critical
critic, From Here To Eternity is all it's cracked up to be ....
Shades of Al Jolson and Ruth Etting! Have you heard what Sinatra does to
"It All Depends On You"? Incidentally, they're filming the
fabulous career of that lovely thrush who was my generation's answer to
Dinah Shore. Good news .... Cadillac is shedding its fishtails .... Have you
heard Merrill Moore beat out the "House of Blue Lights"? Somep'n
.... Como has recorded "That Old Gang of Mine," nicely and
tenderly .... I saw Bob Trice's mound debut with the A's and thought him one
of the most likely looking prospects I've seen in a long time. A natural
ball player with graceful ease and fluidity of motion, he handles himself
with the confidence and poise of a. veteran. Good to see Philly's color bar
removed .... Welcome comebacks: Connee Boswell, bringing with her "I'm
Gonna' Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" .... I could learn to
like the Jane Froman program if Susan Hayward stood in for her and Jane's
voice was dubbed in a la the movie .... Doris Day was never so sweetly
mellifluous as when she does "I Didn't Know What Time It WTas"
.... Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun" has become "Afternoon
Dream," and in the tender hands of Gordon Jenkins and Stewart Foster
retains its beauty .... The Hill toppers have brought back "Love Walked
In," smoothly and rhythmically .... The Mariners have a lilting version
of "I Just Want You". . . . Buddy Grecco does a pleasant job in
3-4 time to "Don't Tell Me Goodbye."
you get a good look at the mountainous cloud formations that completely
girdled the earth like Saturn's rings before the rains came September 4th? A
majestically beautiful sight. How I'd love to have been in a plane looking
down on those fleecy fields .... Did you see where Harry Stuhldreher says
football players are better today? More intelligent, he opines. Well, far
be it from me to pit my opinions against one of Rockne's famed "Four
Horsemen," but how many contemporary gridders are reckoned all-time
greats? .... Lazing by the lovely Berkeley-Carteret pool the other Sunday, I
couldn't help thinking how closely I've been linked by past events with this
newly decorated and much beautified hotel. I was the first in the pool when
it was completed several years ago. Toni Kieb and I were the first to use
the reopened Berkeley after the British Navy evacuted it in 1946. And it was
here that Ross, then four, told me accusingly he was staying at a hotel
"for the first time in his whole life" .... Kids are something
these days. Ross came to his mother, bedded by a bug, and reported:
"Helen has baked a cake for us, but she used our ingredients"
.... Caught one of Godfrey's telecasts from his farm in Virginia. I can
share his enthusiasm for the Blue Ridge mountain country. I thought the
noises of nature in the background stole the show: crickets chirping, birds
twittering, dogs barking. I found Godfrey and Frank Parker's discourse on
how it feels to be fifty heartening, too, convinced as I am that Kurt Weill
wrote his wonderful "September Song" just for me. Neither looks
nor acts it .... Parker, it seems to me, is a clever entertainer in his
own right, although harried in his attempts at philosophizing by Archie
Blyer's teasing penchant for breaking into the strains of "Hearts and
Flowers" whenever he became serious. As for Arthur—well, he wanted to
go to Paris because buxom Sophie Tucker was opening an engagement there.
Presumably at the Folies Bergere! Add synonyms: as incongruous as
little Lu Ann Sims singing "If I Could Be With You.".