Monday, March 11, 2019

From the Top of the Hill # 16: February 5, 1948

Here's the next installment of JDM's weekly newspaper column from 1947-48 when the family was living in Clinton, New York. The column ends with an interesting self-appraisal by the author.

Ten Years Ago This Month

All the juke boxes were beginning to drive people out into the cold with aging versions of "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen".

The Leviathan was hauled out into the New York channel for the last time, headed for Rosyth, Scotland, and the scrap pile.

Gandhi, very ill with high blood pressure and heart disease, suffered a relapse in Bombay and went inland to the Berar cotton country to "mend or end there."

Joe Goebbels, through the Reich propaganda machine, told the joyous Nazis that 65,000 people were starving and freezing in Cleveland.

There was snow in Clinton.

* * *

Program Note:

Our friend, Dick Cantino, the kid who got us into that radio argument, is still top man on the H. Heidt show, in spite of rugged competition. We're even learning to like the accordion. Note to Sykes. We still don't like the commercials.

* * *

Visitor in Clinton:

Forgive us if this sounds almost incredible, but we have a Martian in Clinton. He escaped from Orson and has spent the last few years practicing to look like people.

Look for him on the street. He is dressed as a middle-aged, middle-sized man in a grey overcoat, grey hat, overshoes, pigskin gloves.

Once a week he writes us a report on his findings. You see, he's investigating our civilization. He slips his reports under our door, laughs wildly and runs like anything.

Here's the one we found this week:

"Over the tan stone building where you creatures get green paper and metal disks there is a big room where once every seven days many men gather and sit in groups of four and do odd things with colored oblongs of stiff paper. These bits of paper carry odd designs in black and red. Then men hold the bits of paper and stare at them. Then each man throws a single piece into the middle of the table and one man picks up all four bits of paper and places them carefully in front of himself and smiles. I have watched them often. On one night I took away from that place some of the paper they make marks on while they are engaged in this odd activity. On the paper I took is said, "Chip Walker -- minus 6000 points."

We couldn't give him an answer on this. In fact, we couldn't understand it either. Instead , we distracted him by leaving instructions for another assignment. The instructions told how to get to a hockey game. We're waiting for his next report.

* * *


Strange things happen in this business of putting words on paper, and in the interests of breaking a wrist, slapping our own back, and in order to bolster the sagging newstand sales of our major masterworks, we herewith record this one.

This is the month in which we became the composite author, the cross section of American scribblers. All at the same time, and all on the same newstand we were shocked to find ourselves published as follows:

One gentle little love story in Cosmopolitan entitled "Pickup."

One humorous story in Blue Book entitled "The Pastel Production Line."

One sports story in Sports Fiction entitled "Punch Your Way Home".

One story of politics and murder in New Detective entitled "One Vote for Murder."

One psychological crime story in Dime Detective entitled "High Walls of Hate."

One worlds-of-the-future story in [Astounding] Science Fiction entitled "Cosmetics".

The thing which gives us pause is the fact that not yet have we ever written a story of which we are completely proud. We are serving an apprenticeship to the Angry Gods of the Typewriter, but we can't bury our lesser efforts. We have to sell them for grocery money. It's a good thing they don't let doctors practice this way.

* * *

See you next week.

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