Biographical Aspects of Not Such
Well Known Americans

By Eli Siegel
(1950s)

History is the essence of innumerable biographies. —Carlyle

1. Cincinnati

Fred Hazard, of Cincinnati, father of three children, two in high school, looked, at the blue sky recently and said: "I wish, I was there."

2. Philadelphia

At their table, a year or so ago, Reva Williams looked at her husband, and thought for a moment: Who is this man? This occurred in Philadelphia of a fine day, and an hour later Reva listened to some devious playlet on the radio, with more than her customary satisfaction.

3. Pittsburgh

Anna Hovak of Pittsburgh told her sister, Rachel, that her little boy, Dickie, had said that morning he wished he had never been born. Rachel said comfortingly to Anna, "Oh, he'll grow out of such feelings." Dickie was in bed then, so the matter is pending.

4. Denver

James A. Videlson of Denver recently visited the dentist. While in the dentist's office he had a picture in his mind of his dead grandmother looking angrily at him. The dentist's smile mingled with the angry look of the grandmother. Nevertheless, James A. Videlson had a better time in the dentist's office that day than he usually had.

5. Enid, Oklahoma

Willa Evans was teaching school at Enid, Oklahoma, and for a while she forgot where she was. The children didn't notice this, and after a while the geography lesson went on quite as well as usual. This shows that the children of Enid, Oklahoma, didn't know everything that went on in Willa's mind.

6. San Francisco

While Frieda Eccles of San Francisco was having her fifth child, she thought often, "I do not care what happens this time." Yet when the baby, Eva, was born, she was as nice to her as she was to all the other children. Time alters sentiments.

7. Cairo, Illinois

Jack Hicks works in a paint store in Cairo, Illinois, and for a while thought of painting every house in Cairo orange. This amused him, but he still sells all the colors, including grey.

8. Trenton

Doris Waxman was doing a little dance for her mother lately in their home in Trenton. The mother looked aside for a moment, and Doris stopped dancing, and said, "I'm tired." "I understand," the mother said, "dear, you've been practicing so much." You see, Doris intends to be a dancer, and the mother has gone along. Mothers don't go along, Doris thought, when they look aside.

9. St. Louis

While the Purnell’s of St. Louis were having dinner, Harold Purnell suddenly said, "I don't feel like eating," and went to his room. His sister, Velma Purnell, thought as Harold left that this might have been done by her, if Harold hadn't been first. Two days after, the whole family of six laughed heartily at some things on television.

10. Atlanta

When, recently, Edward Mosby of Atlanta, while at church, looked out of the window, he thought he understood his Bible as well then as he ever had. He didn't care So much whether people noticed him or not. As he walked home he said the word Galilee to himself, and thought it sounded good.

11. Oneonta, New York

When Tim Faxon shook hands with Ed Betterman lately, they both thought of something else. This bit of forgetfulness took place in the town they both lived in, Oneonta, New York.

12. Minneapolis

The idea of going East scares very much Phil Judson of Minneapolis, even though he has all kinds of pictures of New York, and a few of Philadelphia and Boston. He once saw Fifth Avenue crowds in a newsreel, and felt delighted and queer. The image of the New York skyline, too—often in Phil's mind—does subtle, big things to him. But the notion of seeing Chicago before New York is not attractive at all.

13. Des Moines

The disposition to quit working shown by her husband has terrified Mrs. Vincie Williams of Des Moines. She remembers that once her husband Maxwell saw vacations as an interference; and now he takes one for the slightest cause. He is so eager not to go to the office.—All this Mrs. Williams somehow takes as an adverse reflection on herself.

14. Guthrie, Oklahoma

The person that Mrs. Elvira Haskell of Guthrie, Oklahoma, is most interested in is Madame Du Barry. At the same time, Mrs. Haskell is afraid to read anything about the French lady. The situation trembles.

15. Montgomery, Alabama

Ed Howley of Montgomery, Alabama, hates the telephone. He has a feeling he's cheating when he talks on the telephone. He also feels, though less clearly, that he's being cheated. No citizen of Montgomery has as yet noticed this attitude to the telephone of Mr. Howley.

16. Columbus, Missouri

In Columbus, Missouri, there's a little girl, Essie Stover, age five, who gets presents from four aunts pretty regularly, and by now expects them. Every time she gets a present she says, "Oh, auntie," in a rush of youthful pleasure, and kisses the aunt vigorously on the right cheek; and sometimes on the lips. Essie, however, does not like any of her aunts. What she does like is something still to be decided.

17. Salt Lake City

Four children of Salt Lake City, Ethel Travis, Judy Hale, Barbara Nanson, and Paulette Holmes, all nearing the age of ten, have talked of throwing a stone into the window of their teacher, who has acted in a way they didn't like. We shall see what we shall see. Time will tell. Que será será. For one, Ethel Travis doesn't know.

18. South Dakota and Brooklyn

Bill and Alice Robertson, right in the center of South Dakota, are still hoping; though they could hardly describe what they're hoping for. The Black Hills in twilight—at the edge of the State-are part of that hope. Harry and Emma Robinson in Brooklyn have the hopes of the South Dakota Robertsons. The Brooklyn Bridge at noon is part of the Robinsons' hope.

 

 

NOTE: "Biographical Aspects of Not Such Well Known Americans" was published in The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, number 631, May 8, 1985.

Copyright © by Eli Siegel