was the greatest performance I've ever seen—and I've seen 'em all:
Bernhardt, Duse, Nazimova, LeGalliene, Fiske, Cornell, Hayes.
superb was her pretending that no one watching the little tableau vivant
ever would have suspected the tragic truth: that her heart was shattered
into smithereens, her soul suffocated by unrequited love.
studying that impassive face, could have known how horrendous was her hurt,
the depth of her ardor; how madly in love she was, how fervently,
desperately she adored me. I admired her artistry even as my heart felt for
her in her anguish.
said Al Harriday of 20th Century publicity, "this is Mr. Corotis."
could see passion course through her being with the unbridled surge of an
electric urge; but with remarkable restraint, she masked her emotions and
essayed a deceivingly indifferent, even seemingly annoyed "Who?"
was almost convincing even to me, who knew all too well her innermost
feelings, how profound was her desolation, her despair. Truly the girl
deserves an Anatomy Award —what am I saying: Academy Award—for that one
bit alone. It was magnificent!
know, the one who wrote those pieces about you."
if she didn't know all the time!
for the benefit of the others present, she managed a casual "Oh, yeh.
girl. Gad, how she carried it off.
another word she turned and walked away, her shoulders squared, her head
held high to conceal the pain and yearning.
thing. I don't blame her for hurrying off with her bitter grief. Skilled as
she is in histrionics, there's a limit to human endurance. How much can a
crushed heart stand? How much longer could she have contained herself,
facing me there in that breathless moment? She knew she had to go quickly,
or there'd be a scene that would be grist for the gossip mills all over the
they say Marilyn Monroe can't act!
VlNCERE AUT MORI
Boy is dead— a martyr to the cause of manumission. Deep-rooted within him
flamed liberty's lamp, a fiery yearning that burns eternally. His
self-destruction is proof that the ennobling quest for emancipation is not
man's monopoly, by any means.
didn't restrict his pungent observation a century and a half ago to hold
that interwoven is the love of liberty with every ligament of the human
heart. Dryden wasn't speaking only for humankind when he wrote: "Oh,
give me liberty! for even were paradise my prison, still I would long to
leap the crystal walls."
mankind has no corner or copyright on independence. The passion to be free
beats resolutely in dumb breasts, too.
Boy proved that. By his sacrifice he has refuted our smug, supercilious
notion that none merits freedom until fit to use it effectively. We might as
well deny the seas to those who have not yet learned to swim.
said easier were it to hurl the rooted mountain from its base than force the
yoke of slavery upon men determined to be free.
that goes for parakeets, too.
was a time when our feathered lapis lazuli was content to hop and play
within his silvery cage. That was last Christmas, when Ross first acquired
him and named him, seeing in his delicately cerulean coloring the aquamarine
brilliance of Gainsborough's famed painting.
Blue Boy adjusted quickly to his new surroundings, soon overcame his
reticence, and flitted around the house like a tiny azure angel. It became
commonplace to see him perched on Hazel's shoulder as she performed her
household chores, or hanging on a light fixture overseeing Ross' activities
in his third-floor playroom.
alas, as so often happens with freedom, it is misused. Blue Boy began
committing abuses in its name. At the very least he should have returned to
his own little home for those certain functions whose delicate nature
entitles them to privacy.
more ways than one our sovereign sapphire turned into a turquoise terror.
Not only did he overstep the bounds of decency, he took charge of the
household. Hazel couldn't keep him out of the kitchen as she prepared meals.
He sampled every dish, nibbled at our choicest viands, and met all protests
with an angry tirade. He'd anchor himself on the nape of my neck and peck
away at the tender flesh, or right smack dab on the top of my pate, which is
just as barren of hirsute protection. Every effort to brush him off produced
a raucous scolding, and when finally I'd try to grasp hold of him he'd take
off in a flurry of pastel wings and a barrage of indignant imprecations. It
reached the point where incarceration was the only answer. Our bluebird,
once timorous, had become boldly, annoyingly pestiferous.
home for Blue Boy was no dingy oubliette. His cage was spacious and
attractively done in pale blue and silver, on a pedestal to match his own
shading and richly equipped with swings, ladders, baths, and all the
trimmings and trappings that are supposed to delight an accaiiescent
Blue Boy had had his taste of unbridled freedom. No longer could he stand
durance, however plush and lush. "What is life?" I could hear him
chirp with Addison. "It is not to stalk about, and draw fresh air, or
gaze upon the sun; it is to be free ... a day, an hour of virtuous liberty
is worth a whole eternity of bondage."
poor Blue Boy never again could accept the thralldom of confinement. Where
liberty dwells, there is my country, he echoed Milton. He'd wing his way
around the house, unrestrained and unrestricted, or he'd die in the attempt.
died. Blue Boy beat himself to death against the cruelly lovely, disarmingly
fragile looking glass bars of his cell. One morning when I was out of town,
Hazel and Ross found the cold, still little body on the floor of the hated
hoosegow. Pathetically thin it seemed beneath the sky-tinted fur. Never
again would that lithe little figure streak from one room to another, up
stairs and down, like a badminton shuttlecock.
Boy had essayed the role of an avian Patrick Henry. Is life so dear or peace
so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it,
Almighty God! "I know not what course others may take, but as for me,
give me liberty or give me death."
was desolate. He wept copious tears through hurt eyes that seemed to accuse
us. Murderers, I could read them, tyrants, enslavers. You killed my little
in the end he could do nothing but give his friend a decent burial as befits
a martyr, in a snug little coffin with a marker over the grave that bears
the heroic inscription: blue boy—free at last.
was a teenager again, writing sports for the old Courier, when I saw the
fuel oil truck with the firm name obergfell & fisher spelled out on it
as I drove along Route 130 (what happened to 25?).
to be reckoned with were they in the '20s. Big Bill Obergfell was a
plunging, bruising fullback, Eddie Fisher a fleet, elusive halfback on the
much-feared Riverside Big Green, a power in semi-pro football back in those
Eddie turned to the ring and did well as Kid
Fisher, a lithe, fast-stepping
lightweight with a kayo punch in either hand.
Connor was a cameraman with the Courier then. I was running the sports
department and used to make photographic assignments that would take us out
together. There was the time, for instance, when we went to cover a track
meet at Camden High's athletic field.
early on a relaxant spring-feverish sort of day, we stretched out on the
grass of Farnham Park under a shady maple. When we awoke the track meet was
over! But that's another story.
to the point of this tale: Bill, a Philadelphian, had a friend over there
who wanted to carve out a ring career for himself and, thinking he had
talent and promise, agreed to manage him. At his request I prevailed upon
Basil Cook, then running fights at Fairview, to put him on one of his weekly
cards. He did, in the main prelim. And how he did: he matched him with
boy was tall, rangy and fast, and it was a great boxing exhibition for a
round or two, with Bill's hopeful stepping around like a real fancy Dan,
stabbing, stabbing the more experienced Fisher with a machinegun-like left
jab— until Eddie got inside, nailed the lanky lad with that deadly right,
and it was all over but Pose Robinson tolling the fateful ten.
far as I know, Bill never ventured into the fight managerial game again. He
still makes his living taking pictures, at which art he's one of the best.
Thought I'd Use It
handsome youth with the engaging smile approached me as I alighted from the
7th Avenue express at Fulton Street and started for the Hudson Tubes to
complete my return journey from Columbia, up at 116th and Broadway, to
I thought, was pulling my leg. The lad looked like anyone's idea of a bright
young American but the mumbojumbo he sent smilingly my way was the most
broken broken English I've ever heard. He didn't merely fracture the
language— he atomized it.
I noticed the copy of La Prensa under his arm. "Esta usted de
Argentina?" I asked.
he was aglow before, he was effervescent now. He literally shouted the
inevitable "Habla usted Espanol?"
muy bien— muy poco," I replied with more honesty than modesty.
bueno," he insisted graciously. I couldn't see if his fingers were
dos anos en la escuela," I told him, "pero es viente y nuevo, mas,
believe it or not, we got along fine, although I could see what an effort it
was for him to control his mirth. He must have been saying to himself:
"Este hombre crea Yo hablo pasa!"
was, I learned, a Cuban, dashing as Desi Arnaz, in Nueva York tres dias with
a fruit ship and he was trying to get over to Ciudad de Harsay.
learned a lot about Antilles' Pearl on that brief trip under the river, and
before he left the train at J.C. with a cheery hola and an envious bien amor
from me, I even had a couple of addresses. I'll bet they're pips, too.
let's see, when is that convention in cordialidad y solaz Habana?
was Hallowe'en—October 31—which also doubles in brass for Bruce's
birthday. We had just finished a filet mi-gnon meal at the picturesque
Millburn Inn overlooking popular Paper Mill Playhouse up in Essex county,
the five of us, for we had gathered up the family for this natal occasion.
our newly nineteen extracted a big Corona from his breast pocket, fingered
it tenderly, lighted it expertly, savored of it appreciatively, rolled it
around like the sophisticate who advertises Websters on TV.
couldn't help bursting into astounded laughter, although not without a
touch of admiration, even envy. In all my life I've never mastered the manly
art of cigar smoking, and here was my collegian son as proficient at it as
they learn a lot in school these days.
was truly a delightful Sunday. Hazel, Ross and I crossed the Tacony-
Palmyra to Jenkintown to pick up June, at Beaver, rolled northward along
broad Roosevelt Boulevard, past teeming Langhorne, bustling with raceday
excitement, across the Delaware on the new bridge, through Trenton via
Freeway, up Route 1 to the Garden State Parkway above New Brunswick, then
over its smooth, unobstructed roadbed into suburban Newark.
scenery was simply gorgeous. North Jersey wasn't hit at all hard by Hazel
(the hurricane, that is), and its millions of deciduous trees on mountain
slopes and heights and in valleys and groves were at the colorful zenith of
their autumnal splendor.
day was mild and sunnily bright, the cloud formations voluptuous. So
enjoyable was it that the minute we reached East Orange, we transferred to
Bruce's convertible, the better to savor of its Indian Summer delights.
the Oranges, Maplewood, Short Hills, Millburn, we drove to show Hazel and
June the beautiful homes, the lovely shops, stopping at Bill Naue's renowned
Chanticler for dinner.
Chanticler doesn't crow until five, and I'm an impatient man where food is
concerned. I, who have been there frequently, took the family through to
inspect this elegantly appointed hostelry, probably the most famous spot of
its kind in the area. Bill also operates the Roost in Newark, which vies
with the Tavern as top restaurant in that metropolis, and in summer the Sea
Millburn Inn did quite well by us, though, so we had no regrets, and the
scene that unfolds from the porch of this historic spot is one of grandeur.
then our visit to the Playhouse, a turn through the Caldwells, Livingston,
Irvington, and back to Upsala; but not without a stop at the superbly
majestic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, a tremendously impressive edifice
that has been fifty years in the building and still is incomplete.
Scaffolding stretches high up in the lofty upper reaches of the nave.
filial high spot that Hallowe'en, up there with our cigar-smoking sibling.
Beaux esprits . . . beaux yeux.
and Twenty Blackbirds
Todd already was in the dining room of Newark's Essex House when I got
down the other morning. I slid into the chair opposite him and, as if on
cue, the waitress sat down in front of me a big, thick, juicy sirloin with
french fries, A-l sauce and all the trimmings.
answer to the query in my eyes, Leon explained, "I'm tired of hearing
you complain because you can't get anything but eggs for breakfast and how
Reub Lundy has steak for you when you stay over with him."
House breakfasts always have been a controversial point with us. One of my
idiosyncracies is an abhorrence of eggs in the morning. I can eat them for
lunch, and nothing pleases me more before bedtime than a trilby, but I
simply have no stomach for them in the ayem.
solves the problem by having fish or meat for me, and when I'm away I seek
out a place that has kippers or finnan haddie or some similarly delectable
dish. But morning menus at the Essex House are strictly fowl.
night before, we got into quite a discussion on this point at the bar while
sipping our after-dinner cognac and comparing the relative merits of Remy
Martin and Courvoisier. Hours later when I had progressed to Advet Pere
& Fils, I recall that some words of Leon's did penetrate my
champagne-induced aura of euphoria as from a far-off, cloud-borne height;
something about steak for breakfast.
mentioned that that very morning Hazel had heated over a piece of
porterhouse left from dinner the night before. But I had no idea Leon
already was giving the order to Jimmy,
our favorite Hellenic headwaiter, to take one of his prize sirloins out of
the deep freeze and earmark it for an unaccustomed role as a breakfast
Lucretius ... ah, Lucullus. While we live, let us live. Dum vivimus,