March 2, 1960
Dr. David M Levy
47 East 77th Street
New York, New York
Dear Dr. Levy,
You will probably appreciate an incident of a year ago, which was recalled to me by our pleasant meeting yesterday. My son Christopher, then aged four, was heard to sing the following song while playing with toys on the bathroom floor. The tone was cheerful, in major key, sing-song Chinese style.
Oh, my dear Mommy,
She is so sweet.
She sleeps in her bed,
I sleep in mine.
I like to sleep in her bed,
but Daddy gets mad.
Oh, my dear Daddy,
My stupid father.
He was in the army,
But he didn't get shot.
With best wishes, I remain,
Alfred de Grazia
March 3, 1960
A red letter day? Not at all - a purloined pen from Erika's desk in Princeton. The children are like a tribe of selective insects that wipe out a certain material from the landscape, in this case pencils. Only "inedible"implements remain.
A visit with Dave M. Levy, the psychiatrist, yesterday, at his office. We lunched and talked over ideas for an exposition of applied social science. He is a short, grey man, brother-in-law of Max Ascoli, through their wives, who are [eyses] Cosenwald's daughters. Levy does not scintillate, but is apparently an innovator: he mentioned stories that, if they do not show genius, at least reveal an inquiring and investigating mind.
His secretary is a beautiful brunette with a great "yes - daddy" smile. I note this as a feature of the landscape, as I would a particularly pretty sunrise, a fine building, or a beggar of sorts.
I stopped afterwards at the Parke-Bennet galleries on Madison A & 75th. They were auctioning Americana... A couple of hundred dreadful objects were placed about. The thought that those fifty people in serious assembly, dignified, handsome, well-groomed for the most part, were bidding on these ill-conceived, ugly, and poorly made things is cause for mirth and despair. Old pots, crude drawings, worn rugs, rickety chairs, embroidered mottoes in frames. I left immediately.
Ate less than usual, yesterday. A good thing but no fault of mine, just the pressure of them. I am 180 pounds, and would be in excellent muscular condition with 2 weeks of exercise and sports, and 5 lbs less weight.
I have taken two risky speculative steps. I sold my 34 shares of American Motors and bought a 6-month call for Am. Motors at about 71 ½ and one on Universal Match at about 82 ½ . Much is said, here as everywhere, that property defines its terms, that puts and calls, that is, operations on stock options, "stabilizes the market," "allows one to protect an investment,"and other rationalizations. In fact, it is usually a pure gamble, as with me. I feel that a chance for heavy gain is worth it, since I want much money more than I need little money. Thus, if Am. Motors goes up 20 points before September, I would profit $680 on my shares. On the options, should AM & UM go up 20 pts, I should profit, after the return of the $2,500 paid for the options, to the sum of about $3,600. Then each additional ten points brings respectively $340 or $2,000. On the other hand, with the options I stand to lose all if the prices remain the same, or go down, and will lose less and less as the prices rise, up to 12 points on each stock.
The contract for Welfare in America is signed; publication is due in September. A pedestrian summary, undistinctive of style and content. I've given it some form and thoughts; I've kept it from being absurd; I've written little pieces of it; I've directed the writing of the whole. Ted has done most of the work and most of the writing, and Stevenson has severely edited the entire manuscript. So let it go. It serves a beneficial function. Its preparation kept the de Grazias's in food, shelter and clothing and gave me time for other things of greater moment, such as the Philosophy of Welfare that is to follow in a year.
I should arise & make my breakfast. It is 8 AM. Jill & I dined at Hall's restaurant in Washington, D. C. two weeks ago. The famous seafood place is to be torn down in a month or so to enable a large housing project to occupy the land. An old landmark of Washington goes, and people say, "How sad! How good the fish there was." Perhaps so, perhaps from time to time. I know that Jill's lobster, a $9.00 animal, stank slightly and had to be replaced by one yet feebly alive. The good waiter brought him in and said: "You can [see] this one's alive [deight], shaking him. I said "Now hold still. Let me turn,"and finally, sure enough, he waved his arms feebly at me. "OK," I said , "take him away." And then to Jill, my suspicions now excited, though I was more amused than angry, "Now how do we know they will not keep this fellow & broil you another from among the dead?". My scallops were superior, however, but then, the dreck of bad vegetable, ordinary potato and similar offerings!
An excellent restaurant is unbelievably difficult to find. To the poor & unsophisticated, every restaurant with a bit of show is credited with excellent food. Yet you can walk down any street in any part of Rome or Paris and get a good meal from the first place you go into, better than in all but a handful of restaurants in an American city of over a million inhabitants. A few homes are blessed with decent cuisine, as is ours. I should so much rather take pot luck at 306 Nassau Street than the risk of any New York restaurant, with an allotment under seven dollars for the meal. The other day, I lunched unexpectedly at home and ate magnificently from the plain wood table of boiled veal shanks, taken w/ salt & pepper and condiments, Italian bread, whole small canned artichokes in vinegar & olive oil, barley soup on a beef stock, and a large glass of reliable, full-bodied French burgundy. Go into some pretentious N. Y. restaurant, and a sullen, untutored waiter will bring in the course of an expensive dinner scowfuls of tasteless and ordinary things, from which, in the dim light, one is lucky to find some single fine dish. Pity the gourmet who is well-to-do! He must starve himself to enjoy this mess. He does best when he orders and eats one good thing. But where will he find it? And he must pay heavily for it, since waiters & chefs here are sworn enemies of the exceptional action. At Minetta's, a "famous" moderately expensive restaurant in Greenwich Village, I had an altercation with a waiter who wouldn't or didn't dare ask the cook to bring a spaghetti sauce on the side of the spaghetti; Marshall Dimock was unsure of how much sauce his stomach might take. I was finally persuaded to let the matter drop & Marshall received his spaghetti as usual, drowned in sauce.
Paul was issued a basketball suit by Mr. Wecas, the eccentric & brash physical education teacher. It is of heavy, smooth, blue cloth, shorts and sleeveless shirt, with "Nassau School" on the front & the number "12" on the back. Paul was proud of his first athletic uniforms, symbol of his "first-team" status.
He and Vicky play chess once every day or two now. I taught them a few months ago. Paul has been winning as often as not, and both can beat me on occasion if I concede them a bishop or rook. Paul is a "hunting and fishing" type of boy. He has great peaks of exertion, skill, & intelligizing & sloughs of laziness, indifference, & forgetfulness. John is modern man: he works and plays in steady prolonged streams of time. Paul is the better fighter, even relative to age; John is strong but, except in very brief rages, has no heart for the desperate fray. John is more verbal, more happy in the company of adults.
9:30 AM March 3, 1960
Warmly in bed hearing Vivaldi's The Seasons while snow falls heavily on Princeton. I am abed because of signs of la grippe and because I may fly to Detroit tonight to drive a new station wagon back tomorrow. With this snow, however, it may be wise to postpone the trip for several days.
Jill & I dined with Jerry and Ann (Van Doren) Ross last evening in New York. Jerry had read my play The Rohrbach (or The Politician's Daughter) at my request. He said it needed a great deal of work. No doubt. The point of the play escaped him, and, I fear, would most others. Is it a farce or a tragedy? Can there be a tragic farce (Don Quixote?) ? Perhaps I should introduce a kind of Greek chorus to explain & comment on the meanings. The chorus would be the electorate, the voters, the public.
Jerry's boy is beginning to write plays, at 12 years. Jerry says he has no blocks or great anxieties. He is confident and fluent. So it is often, I think, between father and son, where the father's father was not of the profession and where the son follows his father's line. The anxieties are ironed out between the generations insofar as they come from status-changes, lack of sympathy, and want of the facilities (books, pencils, 'important trivia') of the intellectual.
Mr. Gilloon, special assistant of President Newsom, called & came in to see me yesterday. They still want to cut a fast road from N to S through Washington Square, and want a survey and to locate and assess the opposition and the public relations plan to counter it. Lee & Ross had been invited to bid and had asked $25,000 for the first phase of the operation. This proved too costly and Newsome suggested G consult me to determine our capabilities. I was glad to be approached. Obviously, a chore useful to them is worth many chores of value to science when budget time approaches. Moreover, I see in the project a chance for financing from the outside, even tho the President spoke vaguely of "getting students to do the job." I informed G. that students were unreliable and had to be paid anyway. I said that we would not require any new money from the budget, if we undertook it, but that we would have to get outside funds. He has a pledge of $5,000 from Woolf, who owns #1 Fifth Avenue and part of Washington Square Village. I hope to get that, and more. The roadway idea is most unpopular with many thousands of villagers. They signed petitions to close the Square when the issue arose once before. The groups in the village include: the big owners & NYU; the Italian and indigenous element (old-timers, Irish, et al.); the "proper" intelligentsia and urbane; the Negroes and beatniks. Students & faculty belong mostly to the last two in mode of life & sympathy. The four overlap a little, but pull against each other on the [play and] development. Individual motives are complex and I have only begun to get them all from blue-eyed Ms. B.
Scofield said he was going to Trenton tomorrow to cash $2,000 of his aunt's bonds to pay for her keep and care. She is senile. She babbles, lacks all elementary skills, and requires constant care. "She is disgustingly healthy," reports Scof. "How long will her money last?" I asked. "Only another year," he replied. "Then I will have to put her in the state home ... Some of the family don't like the idea, I suppose, but she doesn't have the faintest notion about where she is."
"When is a person alive?" I thought. "Scof. is 60. Will it happen to him? Will it happen to others? To me?' I wondered about the ethics of care. An upper-middle class family needs the state asylum, it appears. Should Scof. be required to care for her? He is a bachelor of $10,000 annual income. His way of life would be changed. We all will now pay to support Scof's aunt to keep Scof. and her other relatives from discomfort, embarrassment, & heavy costs. But Scof. has paid for many others too. The state as an insurance society: taxes [& 1/] premiums. If recognized and managed as such, it would be more efficient and adaptable.
Sunday March 6, 1960
Friday evening a leak in the roof sent water dripping onto the floor of the girls' room on the third floor & thence onto our bedroom ceiling & wall below. I squirmed into the attic air space and crawled to the edge where the leak was. It came from an invisible point. I set a pot beneath it, backed away crablike, painfully, many rags were placed below in the room. The next morning I sent Paul in to empty the pot. We tried to get to the roof but failed because its slopes were icy and dangerous. I sent Paul climbing the tall pine outside the kitchen, one of the few points in Princeton from which might be seen the top of our tall house. He reported much snow over the leak, perhaps 6 inches. That meant we had to keep after the trouble.
This morning we reached the top easily, I with the help of a stout rope. There for an hour we shoveled off snow and cleaned a gutter of ice. The roof dried, the leak stopped, & I can look back on a bracing morning. The day was cold, blue, sharp, spicy. From the roof a panorama of snowy woods and scattered homes stretched out to the far ridge of low hills to the north. None were higher than we on the broad red tin roof. I am not unmindful of heights and am usually disturbed and fearful of them, but not Paul. He scampers along ledges, peers over the edges, packs & hurls a snowball at a cat or girl below, and gleefully shouts triumph into the high silent cold air. He wilted, however, after a five-minute turn on the shovel -- the pure hunter & fisherman.
Monday, March 7, 1960
Faced with a deadline of today in writing the last chapter of the Welfare Survey, I did this and that, on Thursday & Friday, was enraged by wasting Saturday morning on the leaking roof, ate a large lunch, slept & then finally at 3 PM Saturday began to write. By seven I had drafted most of the chapter and two hours in the evening finished it. Its length is 5,000 words. I loitered until 2 AM drinking in the sensation of accomplishment. Yesterday I worked a couple of hours more on it, amending, adding a chart and a paragraph. It is a good piece of work, limited by its intended audience of laymen and ordinary students, and by its lack of a philosophic and theoretical base in or out of the book to which it might be referred. One more instance of my arrow shot a marvelous distance at an inferior target.
The question should be asked of intellectual and artistic history: Is high achievement a constant, but the audience the variable? Is not the educated opinion mistaken in thinking that genius fluctuates while the society awaits the upswing of its cycle? A man cannot do his best work before an inferior audience. And if he has no audience, he hollers into chaos. In a multiform, pluralistic society a writer or artist may find himself speaking now to one, then to another, and so on to many groups; he never finds himself, or some single arrow that he lets fly may hit a target of enduring importance. If he is like my painting friend, Karnig Nalbandian, the artist may denounce all groups & delude himself into thinking a person may communicate without an audience, a contradiction in terms. Lucky the artist born in a time & place where a great audience -- small or large, hostile or friendly -- is prearranged by unconscious social forces for his work. He tunes his instrument accordingly while believing innocently in absolute pitch. Often too the communicator, unaware of his distinguished audience, will curse his fate and long for some other imagined groups that he presumes would receive his message better. And conversely, the one who believes that the enormous audiences of modern times, whether the mass audience or the large fractional components, must be the greatest opportunity an artist might historically be granted.
Is it possible for a man to be a Catholic and an independent philosopher? Is it possible for a man to be a citizen of a Nation & a free theorist of world affairs? Can a man who belongs in an active sense to any group be of liberal or objective mind? Yes, if only bec. "No" is a reduction ad absurdum. Yes, because it must be; unless "free & objective" are impossibly defined as things that can never be, objectivity for the perspective of the one situation must be as possible as from the other & perhaps from any other.
The position is excluded by definition; however many factors determine the probability of free thought. One must, for one thing, be of strong heart & mind; there is no room for weaklings in the ranks of free inquirers. One must be always at least slightly unhappy -- for he sees his irreconcilable roles -- but he will also have times of joy that are superior to easy happiness. Tactically one must simply put aside the epaulets & chores of membership, & be, I. e. exist & act, internally on a different level.
March 7 ff. (1960)
Do PIRAMIT prospects for
Push Recreation project
See Thayer w/ Dimock (also Avalon foundation)
Write memo to Markel
Visit Emerson Andrews at Found. Res. Ctr
Get loan extension from Wilks
Get Metron checks
Write lecture on Democracy in next 10 days
Write memo on World Fair Research
Write Ed Sinclair & send clocks
Write Brookings speech
Call Smith of B & N re George's offer
Set up & record entries in Metron Books
Make reservations for Mon. night at Williamsburg
Walter Wilke - Psych.
Write memo for J. Rockefeller on World's Fair
Letters to: Lasswell
March 8, 1960
Perhaps I am overly sensitive to intimations of hostility, for it seems to me that the USA is widely disliked in the world without good reason. To begin with, the English believe us to be freakishly free while they are deservedly free. The Germans curse their luck and hold our mechanical civilization inferior to their potential. The French are inherently convinced that power is better than art, and, since they do not have power, detest us for our supposed uncouthness and inartistry. The Italians feel that we don't give until it hurts; we give but we still have more, a sin. The Japanese regard us as strange people from another planet and study us with great intensity. To the Caribbean peoples Americans are big bullies with swollen pockets of swag. We are unfair competition, making too many things, to the minds of the countries farther South. The Communist Chinese see the stereotype of the wicked capitalists 180,000,000 strong. The Taiwan Chinese regard the USA as an uncertain rich uncle who may momentarily disown them. The small countries -- Sweden, Norway, Holland, Switzerland, etc. -- grant the "logic of the American position" but cannot understand why the huge whale will not always let all the smaller hungry fish bite chunks out of him; there is so much there! The Russians picture a country past its prime, beset by internal contradictions; its fall will open the world to Russian-directed communism.
All are dependent and resent the fact.
All are envious and must find faults to justify the envy.
All the European countries have millions of distant cousins here and dislike these hyphenated and alienated fools, proven incompetent & declassé by the act of emigration even if done centuries ago. Those countries without descendants here want the right to implant them in larger numbers.
Almost all are socialist and nationalist, a hundred years too late to make sense, but not too late to promote general disorder. If the world were only in trouble because of new ideas, it would be cause for hope and enthusiasm; but it suffers from the aggression of dead ideas, proven wrong and bad in practice.
So each people has its "reasons" and we have no inner urge to reject them. We have no basis for consolidation, no inner fire, strong passion, a spirit of defense to shield us from hatred. A nation, like a person, is best received, not because it is good or bad, but because it has some outstanding trait that people think they understand. And the great game of pro & con centers on this trait.
March 10, 1960
Spent the day writing conclusions to the chapters of Welfare in America. Ted then carried the mss into NYC to the NYU Press. (A mss. is never finished until the page proofs are in and the jacket blurb is approved.) I put the third seat into the station wagon that I am to drive to Chicago: the weather is unseasonably cold and much unfriendly snow packs on the ground. Vicky challenged me to a game of chess and won. I am furious at being beaten not only by her but by Paul. I must be losing my mind to succumb to these babes to whom I taught the game a couple of months ago!
March 11, 1960
The Piccolo Teatro di Milano came to Princeton last evening. Goldoni's "A Servant with Two Masters" Superior acting. Perfect flourishes. A jewel of style. The large crowd at McCarter Theater applauded long and was delighted at the tableaux that were used to answer curtain calls at the end.
March 15, 1960
Master's Spoon River Anthology. How sad the personal thoughts about those one has known. Dead or alive, no matter. My heart hangs like lead and I could cry at their beloved memory. How dreadful the prospect of the future! Not for myself -- once I may have been filled with self-love and self-pity. But no more. Always I grieved for others, soft-hearted, prone to nostalgia, overflowing with compassion, sick for all the lost, misunderstood, mistreated, misguided souls of Spoon River whom I somehow know well & who are miserably part of my own series that has hardly started. Little have I lost of such pitying sympathy. Where will I get the strength to bear all my misfortunes to come? What will hold back the tears that have been near since sympathetic childhood, keep the sob down in the throat, soften the pain in the chest & the wilting sorrow? Will the world know what a fakir I've been in my life -- tough, active, aggressive, uncompromising. I could spit in [disgust?]from at (sic) all this front when anyone is hurt thru me. And yet the agony of foredoomed troubles should be so great as to demand the most brutal reserve.
The aching pathos of what is lost in the past. Gone forever. Can anything in the present ever be worth the pain of its loss and subsequent recollection? Nostalgic melancholy -- when a holy obligation, when needed to exercise the rusty-stringed chords of the narrowed personality. Sentimentality -- When the past no matter how dear hangs over one like a decaying bower on a dripping dark day. Remembrances and the fright of the present-that-is-to-be-recalled are the inseparable pleasure-pain, the eternal damnation of man for incomplete love. No exercise of will or reason can heal every split & treat the tragic unity.
12:00 AM Wed. March 16, 1960
Expressions with many different meanings tho simple in themselves. Jay Hall, as we watched a guard tending a gate at an auto plant near Detroit: "They're too stupid to use a hammer, so they give them a revolver." Sebastian to Iano, his 11-yr old son, as we drove along: "Stop pushing the window button. That's not a child's toy ... It's an adult toy."
My weekend was long in cars. Sat. at 4 AM we left Princeton for Chicago by car. After a hard, fast drive, we reached Chicago in 15 ½ hours. Mom had an enormous, varied delicious dinner for us. I ate & drank until, with the weariness of travel to add, I was stupefied. I left the 1955 Pontiac wagon with Victor to use in Metron's Chicago work. He is beginning a TV program on public issues, with funds given by Arnold Maremont to the educational station & paid to Vic as producer. Sunday morning I helped Dad prepare his income tax form. At noon we left for Detroit by train, carrying additional packages that Mom piled upon us. She always has loads of furniture, bric-a-brac, toys, clothing, and sundries that she feels we might carry to Princeton. She is a marvelous purchasing agent for the large class of objects that one desires but will not pay anything for. This time, for instance, she had bought me a guitar & much music for $20.00. I was pleased with the purchase & carried it along with me in a gunny sack. On the train, we had an altercation with a belligerent daft conductor. The children wished to revolve one seat to face another. One conductor said it might be done. We tried and failed to discover how. We asked this second conductor. He said, turning a seat was against the rules. "But they've done it in the next car!" "I don't care." He walked off & we succeeded in turning the seat. He returned and was furious. "Turn that seat right back the way it was." "Why should we. There's nothing wrong about it." "Turn it back." "No. You let others do it, and also smoke in this car despite the 'no smoking' sign." "I'm the conductor here. What I say goes!" "The other conductor said it was all right." "I'm the conductor here." "Show us proof that you're his superior." "You turn that seat around or I'll put you off the train." Sebastian, "I'd like to see you try." The conductor was angry, desperate but nonplussed. I leaned over to him, spoke in a confidential avuncular tone, feeling the eyes of many passengers on the scene: "Why press the issue? Let it go. You have a good point. We understand that." He backed away, released from his dreadful exposed position, and disappeared. Everyone laughed and a passenger made a few friendly remarks to us. Jay met us at Detroit & we spent the night in Bloomfield Hills w/ his family. At night we talked of new books, especially Marty Lipset's Political Man, of old books, one on the population and politics of Rome in the first century B. C. particularly (Scuddard's), argued about Joe McCarthy's social outburst of several years ago. In the morning he drove us to the Pontiac factory where a new station wagon awaited us. We were guided through the final assembly line, a visit I requested largely for the sake of Paul, Vicky & Iano. At noon we left for Princeton. About 8 PM on the approaches to the Allegheny mountains, we met with a blizzard and an icy road. For two hours we crept along. Bus skidded the car perilously at one point. We learned the snow was light a few miles ahead so drove on through. By the early morning hours I was speeding the new wagon through E. Penna at 70 mph. At 2:45 we were home.
7 PM March 16, 1960
Phone 1st Natl Bank of Ptn to renew by $2,500 personal loan. The proceeds are in my cash account at Rothschild's. Dryfoos just purchased 100 shares of Mesabi Iron for me. Today it went up 6 points. I hold 2 calls for Sept. on American Motors & Universal Match. They must go up 10 points each to begin profitting. The outlook is uncertain.
Lunch with Carl Gustafson, Laurence Rockefeller's assistant at the R. Center lunch club. Excellent clams & flounder. Good pumpkin pie. Gus is a small, sturdy man of perhaps 42, with bright blue eyes; unaffected, cordial, interested in large and original ideas, he is much like his boss. L. & he were flying to Detroit this afternoon in L's Convair to ask Dean Rapport of Wayne S. U. to give Wengert a year's lease before becoming Wayne's Chairman in Pol. Sci. Gus is irritated at W's move. I agree; Norm's making a mistake; I so advise him in Washington when he asked my advice. Why move from one second rate place to another, especially when it is out of the center of one's interests? So why leave the U. of Maryland, so near the Capital, for Wayne? The several thousand dollars increase isn't worth it. Now Norm will be less esteemed by L. R. even though L. will go to great lengths out of personal loyalty. He needs simply have phoned the Dean. So I told Gus. Gus related L's and his interest in an outdoor recreation exposition at the N. Y. World's Fair & I suggested putting up the Experimental & Model Camp & Recreation Center there, & dismantling it afterwards for us in an NYU site in the U's camping program. Let us get the concession & then bring in all the govt & nongov. interests and organize them conceptually, by function, rather than as a series of sideshows run by everybody who sells something outdoors. Gus was intrigued. He & L will talk it over and call me about it. I explained to Gustafson, in the course of lunch, how I was running an undercapitalized operation; my time is unfortunately captive of the necessities of the U. I said this so that he might appreciate the need for funding any prolonged efforts to think thru & develop projects.
I wrote Frank Hughes of the Chicago Tribune today to introduce Jay Hall to him. Jay has been asked to intercede in a local factional dispute of the Republicans and wants information.
This apartment was so very dirty that I finally phoned the N. Y. State Employment Service & was surprised to have someone sent over right away. Her name was Lucille, dark, strong, not a perfectionist by a long shot, somewhat defensive-aggressive, ultimately jovial. I [pac]tioned the whiskey bottles & she moved them, probably for a drink or two. It is much more pleasant to have the place clean. I shall have her again when it becomes insupportable.
A flurry of mail came with the notice of my appointment in the Times last September. Among the letters of congratulation and solicitation, was a strange one from a town near Albany. The writer, Gladys Maserek, asked whether I were not a shipboard acquaintance from the Niew Amsterdam. "Do you remember also the two priests?" she inquired. "They just passed by and visited us." She enclosed a passport photo of her husband Joe and herself, confessing that it was old and a poor likeness. She enclosed the Times article with my photograph too.
I studied it and remembered from the dim past of 1939 the first sailing of the Niew Amsterdam from New York, when I led a small orchestra from the U. of Chicago to play dance music aboard. There were the priests, I remembered, and this couple with the Bohemian name and undistinguished, pleasant, dull manners. I replied, "Yes of course I remember you. Thank you for your good wishes. If, as you say, you would be happy to see me sometime in the City, I should also be pleased to see you." I commented to Jill on the incident. How do people remember so long, but these were precisely the kind of people to whom a boat trip would be an important benchmark, like a birth or a wedding.
Yesterday, to my slight dismay, I received a letter from "Gladys". She would be in New York today. She would call me when she opened her eyes in the morning. She would like to see me for lunch or a drink. She hoped I was not married because she did not want to create any misunderstanding. This morning she caught me on the third try. She was at the Astor. My day is in poor shape, I told her. Might I stop by for a few minutes about 2:30? Very well. Room 838. Ring and I'll come down.
So, leaving Rockefeller Center, I walked to the Astor, determined to hold our reunion somehow to under half an hour. Let twenty years go by and be damned! Why am I so foolish as to bow to the desires of anybody who would resurrect a brief contact. She came down, looking just as I had expected. A little older than me, thin, neurasthenic, an excellent coiffure and makeup. A dress of fat white & green flowers on a base of blue, unlovely but helpful in diminishing her thin impression.
We glanced at one another & understood that we were the appropriate person to meet. So we exchanged salutations and she exclaimed, "But you look so different! You have changed!" "A lot of time has passed," I explained. "I was once much thinner." She seemed to hesitate and I suggested that we sat down in the lounge or the bar. The bar, she said, and we found a quiet table there. She ordered a Daiquiri, I a Scotch & soda. We spoke of the priests, of the ship. She mentioned being in the city at a hairdresser's convention. How odd and dull, I thought, to be seated with a hairdresser at the Astor on behalf of a twenty-year-old memory. How is your husband, I inquired. "Well," she said. "I don't remember his occupation." She glanced at me oddly (should I have remembered?) "He is a policeman, you know." "Do you know Albany?" "Not very well, I've been there a couple of time since the war." "Do you remember Mrs. Culbert. She would always say 'I'm from suburban Philadelphia.' We've exchanged letters. She thought she would be in New York, and would see me, but she changed her plans." "No, I don't." "Do you remember the blonde, curvaceous girl, Manya?" "Manya" "Yes, you remember her. She couldn't be missed." (her hands described curves). "No I don't, but you see I was with the orchestra from my college. I may have been playing." "I didn't know that. Is that why you were missing from the bar so much? I thought you were a quiet type." "No, I wasn't very quiet." "That's why I couldn't find your name on the passenger list either." I mentioned the ship again and then couldn't recall whether the voyage had been in 1938 or 1939." "When was the sailing, do you remember," I asked her. "Was it 1938 or 1939?" She was dismayed. "You know, I think this is all a mistake," she said. She was cool -- only a trace of anxiety in her eyes and hands. "We were on this crossing last year."
We looked at one another. Twenty years of "friendship" became nothing. I was staring at the blank face of a stranger. "Slam down the curtain!" she must have felt. Let me out of here! What have I done?
I knew it couldn't have been my brother, yet I thought that a life raft might keep her afloat until her nerves settled: My brother was abroad last year. Could it have been him? He is taller, much thinner?" "No, he wasn't taller or much thinner... But it might have been. Will you ask him?" And now every other sentence became, "Will you just ask him?" I checked out the possibility -- my brother fulfilled only three circumstantial conditions: he was a professor, lived in Princeton & had been to Europe. (I remembered he had come back on the American Export Line with his family.) Finally we were talking in terms of the new reality. "Will you be telling your husband?" "No, I couldn't. I didn't tell him I'd call you." "It's such a good story." "He wouldn't understand." I had to leave, so said, "I am glad that when I first met you in the lobby, I declared that I could only visit a few minutes, so you won't think badly of me for taking my leave now." "Would you mind if I asked you a personal question?" she said. "Go ahead." "Are you going to tell your wife?" "Yes, I am. Do you mind?" "No. She must be very understanding." "In fact I told her about the first letter when it came. We were wondering about it." "Ask your brother anyway, will you? "All right. I shall have to excuse myself now." I called the waiter and paid the bill. "Shall I wait until you finish your drink? I don't want to leave you here unless you wish?" She said she would prefer to remain. A girl friend was going to be by to meet her. "Goodbye, good luck!" "Goodbye,: She wasn't downcast. She was friendly, full of small emotions knotted like a bag of saved-up kitchen twines. She would take forever to decide how to view the case of mistaken identity. Her white glass of Daiquiri stood quietly by as her eyes followed me out. I had used up all allotted time so I hurried Southwards.
March 24, 1960
Pa. Pr. en route NY
This March has been the coldest in memory. Only the high midday sun has kept Lake Carnegie from freezing solid. I thought we might have a little Southern warmth during my trip to Williamsburg, Va, but it is as cold there as in New York. The days have been mostly clear and bright, good for hiking with warm clothing. But there is no dawdling in the snappy air.
We left for Washington & Wmsburg on Sat. at 11 AM. In a typical lapse into irresponsibility towards his elder family, Vic failed to send me my dispatch case containing my notes for the talk to the Brookings Institution conference at Wmsburg, and I had to write the paper from the beginning while in Washington on Sunday. It now develops that the notes arrived on Saturday & had been mailed on Friday, four days late, two days after a telegram, a day after the phone call. We were angry at him, particularly since I had just delivered for his use in Chicago our older Pontiac station wagon, and had made other helpful gestures. The examples of his uncontrollable inclination to avoid being helpful are many. He has never contributed financially to the support of Dad & Mom, alone of the sons. He never writes letters of initiative or in reply. Early in life, his brilliance and energy were greatly praised & encouraged. Yet he has not even a high school diploma. He has carried his 265 pounds in and out of two colleges & a musical conservatory, avoiding degrees like the plague, all for seemingly sufficient reason --not justification, but reasons, for Vic is of the really clever rationalizing type that will be all the more persuasive for giving a socially inferior or unacceptable reason for his conduct rather than a noble, but equally "mature" reason. He still remains at the mercy of his unhappy impulses to withdraw at the moment of advance, and to reject those who push him towards "the good". I was pleased in Chicago two weeks ago to learn that he had pushed up the level of his formal work, i. e. his "job titles". Ordinarily one shouldn't mind this much, but in his case the acceptance of proferrings of the outside world, and even going after them, is an excellent sign. His second wife's influence here I read as all to the good. Robin Jackson is both attractive & affectionate, and most intelligent. She can make him build things one on top of the other if anyone can, and prevent him from carelessly knocking them over. He is a strongly attractive figure in public affairs and already commands much respect and a following in the 5th Ward and in Chicago & Illinois.
Driving steadily at between 60 and 70 mph, we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & reached Washington a little past 4:30. [Marginal note on top of the page: March 29, 1960 contd.] We stopped at Miriam deG's house to let off Iano, who had [been] visiting his father in Princeton & was with us there and in Chicago. By coincidence, Edward had arrived a few minutes before & had just discovered he was to take the 6:00 o'clock jet flight from the Baltimore, rather than the Washington airport. So, with my nephew Joe as company for the return, I speeded back along the road I had just covered and put Ed aboard just in time. The great plane took off into the setting sun & I thought what a wonderful pass travel had come to, to have a continuous splendid sunset for four hours of drinking and food and reach home in the Stanford Hills by dark.
Ed announced that the chief legal counsel of G. E. International had offered him the post of attorney in NYC for GE's foreign nuclear power operations. The offer is most attractive, but places Ed in the unhappy position of having to leave a new, conveniently designed home in a particularly beautiful part of the country, just several months after moving in. I tried not to urge him to move, though we are happy at the prospect. They might even live in Princeton.
Returning from the airport, Joe & I talked of cars, music, money & careers. He is diffident externally but intense in reality. He is not yet a good musician but thinks of working in music. I try to convey some of the practical formulae for making one's way through early manhood. He is so cash-poor like most of our family (if they didn't start that way, they end up so -- my father saved religiously & then had to spend it all during the depression for us to survive. My maternal uncles made small fortunes & wasted them time after time; one died penniless, the other lives penniless.) Bus is always on the edge of genteel penury; Vic is always broke. Ed told me that he & Ellen spent her small fortune -- I would guess $30,000 -- in toto, just in living & moving & carelessness. Jill & I spent her similar small estate of $10,000 by 1953 -- fur coat, car, babies, eating a little more than average, drinking moderately of whiskey & wine, buying & selling a couple of houses in which we resided for a short time, moving, and a couple of poor stocks in the beginning. Not until we reached Stanford could it be said that we were relieved of subsidizing my students. Until then, we spent three thousands a year over University income and two thousands over all income. Since then [March 24, 1960 contd.] I have been paid well above the average professor and my outside earnings have been heavy. Stuart Hughes once told me that in his history department at Stanford only one man lived on his salary alone. The others were helped by estates, working wives, royalties on writings, or outside earnings in maintaining their modest standards of living. I have resented this situation more than most perhaps. I could never boondoggle, which is how many professors "get even" with the system. I have disliked doing chores such as textbooks and other writing not as one pleases. Having more than the usual number of children & other dependents, I might not benignly give my talents to the largely mediocre students finding themselves in my classes. Also I am generally aroused by distributative injustice, I suppose. Moreover, I am not appeased by high status in itself. Many professors are so proud of themselves for reaching their dignified rank that they will not let themselves feel that they are being deprived of such things as power & money as the price of their positions.
Aside from his genteel poverty, my nephew is all a seventeen-year-old boy should be -- at the top of his class in studies, president of the Class, a good musician, a strong and athletic boy of 5' 10" or 11" and 160 lbs., and very handsome in a dark blond way. He is good to his mother & father and kind & helpful to his younger brother & sister. He appears ordinarily quite serious, but has a sweet and gay smile when playful. He will be up to work for me around the house & yard during the Easter vacation & I told him that if all else failed he should surely count on working for me during the summer.
March 27, 1960 9:15 AM
Reading Lock & Booth, eds., Machine Translation of Languages. We are now going about the problem by statistical word-coding procedures. Syntax analysis is also moving, but more slowly. Are there any strikingly more economical alternatives? Or any possibly more successful. Warren Weaver suggests some unknown basic similarities of languages. He is feeling for something but offers almost no denotative meaning. The editors say, "Still w/o stepping beyond the bounds of reason, though admittedly purely speculative at present, it is possible to envisage a machine w/ a large enough storage to contain descriptive phrases relevant to most standard literary situations. The act of "translation" would then consist in identifying the ideas contained in the original text & expressing these in terms of stored phrases. "Isn't this still using words-equivalents, but the words become idioms-equivalent."
A true idea translating machine would classify & code the ideas of man [acc.] basically to his logical movements of mind & representation in all situations. The basis would be translatable as ideas, the evidence or illustrations acc. to the mechanical dictionary, to be added to the idea as "fill-in." That is, when statement "That All power corrupts is revealed by the bad kings of France," is translated, "France is France," "kings are kings", etc., but then, instead of getting into trouble with the concept, it falls into the regular pattern of common ideas about power and rule and is coded to its category there, the English equivalent or perhaps "political language" equivalent if such can be devised. How many of such ideas about power and rule are there in all the history of political thought & expression? Not many. Far less, I guess, that all the words & word-combinations used to express the concepts. Therefore, list & encode meaning-concept emissions. How many really original & new ideas are there? Very few. What we must do is to integrate existing work done on translating machines via the word-idiom progression with sophisticated types of content-analysis, with development of symbolic logic, with enemies of symbolic logic & quantification such as Mortimer Adler in his Synopticon, and with a brave assault upon philosophical & social science theory. As with other instances of machine progress, the greatest effect may be true intellectual & philosophical progress. To invent economies, one thinks along original lines & forces new progress out of old lines. How wonderful & awful to swing mechanically from work to work in all languages, reproducing meaning with 90% accuracy where it is worthwhile & having bells ringing where the 10% discuss any means original combinations are occurring!
306 Nassau, 5:20 AM
March 28, 1960
The dawn is breaking. The white cat, infected by Spring, pounded into our room after the blowing curtain. She broke into my already semi-conscious doze. I've had enough sleep, with a nap yesterday. Sunday went easily by. I arose at nine, ate sausages & eggs, read the Times, observed the church comings and goings of the family and the kite-making. I didn't attend Mass. I do not like our massive marble barn glaring with light. Furthermore, I have felt cooler towards the Church this last year. I defended its position in the population-control arguments during the year, but mostly out of a sense of logic & reason, indicating the selfishness of those who would give up other peoples' right to children with no thought of giving up their own rights to property. I was also indignant at CBS' biased portrayal of the "population explosion" problem -- all the more because the stupid liberals who put it on didn't know how they were prejudiced.
In late morning I went down to the playing field with John to fly kites. The breeze was slight but the day the nearest to Spring we've had. When Spring will come, it will burst upon us, for the days are already long & the sun steep in the sky. Nothing but a handful of crocuses are up through the ground.
I ate a lunch of chicken and barley soup and liver-sausage sandwiches. The family was in & out constantly, Jessie to her last portrait sitting, Cathy to tennis, Paul to 3 games of baseball from noon to seven P.M., Carlo to Marco's and then to kiting, Vicky slinking about the house in a gorgeous blue Chinese gown, Christopher in the fields too with his mother, John with me kiting, eating, napping and back to the kite-grounds. By the time the day was over, the trees and wires surrounding were littered with the wrecks of kites, like the broken-up planes of a wartime airfield in the combat zone. One of Carl's went very high. Its rag tail shivered like a paramecium. It strained at its light string, wanting to go higher & moved restlessly against the bluest of skies, back & forth like a tiger pacing his cage. Once it stood so straight up that the small boys playing baseball stopped their game to shout about it, calling Paul's attention especially to it, and Carl, who was holding it, was proud to be discovered at the other end of the string as their eyes followed it down. Once it broke away from him, but I was downwind and by a stroke of luck snatched the string as it streamed by. Then it unexplainably began a series of great suicide dives until its string caught in a tree and itself ended atop a telephone pole.
We went to the Freylinheusens for cocktails, John carrying my trumpet case. Tom's piano had been tuned and we played some old-time jazz tunes together. We had duck for dinner; we watched an Alfred Hitchcock TV mystery; Paul and I played chess. I read some pages of Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth and then slept.
March 29, 1960 8:30 AM
Up for tennis with Cathy at 6 AM. Breakfast afterwards on the stone ground wheat that we bought at Williamsburg. Excellent w/ olive oil, salt, & pepper. I meant to say more about Williamsburg. I wrote my speech on Sunday in Washington. We had dinner with Hart and Beatty Perry. June and Fred Yaeger joined us at the Perrys for cocktails. Their boys had had a fistfight & we brought the parents, who live a block apart, together. Fred likes his new work; he is a colonel on the policy planning staff of the Army, specializing in Eastern Europe, i. e. the Soviet Union. He is persuaded of the high importance of his work. I am impressed by the intricate convolutions of policy study in the national security establishment. Every idea goes through a hundred lofty officers -- often w/ a sense of urgency & always in deep secrecy. I am happy about Fred's high morale, but I wonder at the maze and its product.
Monday morning I visited USIA and consoled Crespi and Crasley about their poor research budget. I had lunch w/ Bob Merriam at Aldo's. Afterwards I visited Eddie Higgins, Senator Green's Assistant regarding the bill for support of political science research that I was writing, and the interest of the Siamese and Nicaraguan governments in construction work. Nalbandian is working on the latter affairs. Jill & the boys met me in Green's office & we drove to Williamsburg, arriving at supper time. We ate and bedded down in the Inn in two large and handsome rooms of the far wing overlooking the golf course.
That night & early the next morning I reviewed my paper. Breakfasted w/ Roy Crawley, the Program Coordinator of the Conferences, his Secretary, Miss Cameron, and McIntyre, Pres. of Eastern Airlines, a pleasant man who speaks subtly and intelligently on the processes of making decisions and on the problems of the aviation industry. We also lunched at the same table. At 2, I addressed the group of high agency officials, about 40 in number from all over the Fed. govt. By ranging into time and space, the paper frightened a number of the men, but it also excited them and we had a flood of questions afterwards for two and a half hours. "Democracy as Method & Accident" -- I dissevered the accidental features of forms of government, & set up charity, free opportunity, rule of law, & limited government as the hallmarks, values, and methods of democracy. The men were a pleasure to work with -- sometimes blunt & obstreperous, but genuinely pleased and aroused over my constructive & activist approach. They wanted to do something themselves. I am touched whenever people with power chose to act for their ideals. I urged them, if they agreed, to throw their weight around in favor of these principles, and we went into one after another example of how their weight could be used. The afternoon & the refreshment hour that followed, with Jill present, were most successful. That night we saw the charming light film, "the Mouse that Roared."
Next morning we toured Williamsburg. The restored colonial town is, I am now persuaded, a socially valuable thing. It educates in three dimensions. It gave me ideas to use in the "dynafuturum."
Owing to my insistence upon at least driving through the campus of William and Mary College, we were just too late to make the 1 P. M. Ferry across Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Road. Jill was annoyed. Instead we drove across the long bridge & turned to the Newport News Ferry. The day was bright, calm, and not too cold. We ate lunch aboard the boat, served by a Negro whose voice burst with warmth, and quietly enjoyed walking the decks. The East Shore was undisturbed and inviting. Here, we thought, would be a fine place for a summer home. The fishing & boating are excellent, the population is small. Negroes appear to hold a majority. Wild dogs roam about, we were told, abandoned by the migrant workers who bring them from the South and return without them. We admired the groves of tall slender pine with mere tufts of foliage crowning them. The drive then became a grind, hour after hour at a fast pace until we were home at ten. Cathy & Vicky had lived alone for five days, delightfully, they assured us. Jessie had stayed w/ the Mathers and had dropped in on her sisters from time to time with Peggy Mather. Elsie was fat and sleeping. The white cat Missy was ornery.
Lunch the next day w/ Jack Snyder, Gordon Terardi and Fred Siefel (?) at the Harvard Club. Subject: plans for publishing the American Way of Government. We had a jolly drinking lunch and adjourned to talk business in the clubroom. They propose that I write a new book under a new plan, in my style and pulling out the stops on the new political science instruments. I did not object but suggested we also keep the present book in active competition by a new edition. I said that Stevenson and another political scientist might be chosen to come in as co-authors. Its descriptive and somewhat neuter character would be preserved and even accentuated. They will study the matter.
Thursday afternoon Pastor Erwin Prange of St. Marks Lutheran Church (Brooklyn) came in to discuss a study of his and other parishes. Expensive and historically dear churches and facilities are now in transitional neighborhoods that are largely Negro & Puerto Rican. Support comes from the suburbs; the problems and the mission are all around the churches. Shall they be abandoned to the wreckers or to the cults that can thrive in the settings? Or should a stern commitment be made to stay come hell or high water. And life for a traditional church in an area like this can be cruel and bitter. Hostility, race hysteria, apathy, criminality, violence, poverty and loneliness face the pastor & his family.
March 31, 1960
Two meetings with Chancellor Stoddard on the future of the research Center. He is a detestable person.
Mike Nalbandian came into New York and stayed last night at 12 Perry St. with me. He is promoting a bond issue, a large construction project, and a sale/leaseback arrangement for a steamship line, all on behalf of the Somoza brothers, President and Generalissimo of Nicaragua.
Income tax forms must be completed this weekend, by my schedule. What a nuisance! I have five sets to fill out.
Someone threw a stone that cracked the windshield of the new car. Jill lays it to a meteorite; how exotic can one get in explaining away a misdemeanor of a small boy? Last night she left the ignition turned on, and the battery was exhausted. Then Erika pushed her to the station. I am irked by that, for pushing may damage the automatic transmission system. With all this, I said "Why don't you simply run the car into a lamppost and be done with it?"
Francisco Moreno and Stephanie Neuman have organized a graduate students' Club in Political Science and, at Dimock's suggestion, which they were most pleased to have, they have inquired whether I might be the required Faculty Advisor. I consented.
Stephanie is in throes of changing her program of study. I advised her to get her PhD by steady work, taking the smoothest path. She has some talents coming with her beauty -- she stands out, has force of character, organizing ability or -- what is the word for this (Mike has it too)? -- the talent for getting people together and focussing them upon an idea or an interest, with no special ability to keep them organized or efficient. I am lucky in being able to call on her for many opinions, scraps of knowledge, reactions, errands, small projects -- if my attitude were not so different, one would say "to use her." But it is so in a much different sense than ordinary exploitation. We are good friends & having her is like walking thru a delightful garden with an understanding gardener, enjoying a new sprout, a leaf turning color, picking a tomato, examining a peach, tightening a faucet, admiring the colors of brick and soil, moving flat rocks and kicking a branch aside.