Thursday, May 13, 2010
Happy 73rd Birthday to Me
This is the cover of an edition of Collier’s magazine dated two days after my birth on 20 May 1937. The back cover is, of course, an ad for Coca-Cola.
One of the full page ads is for Parker pens – the Parker vacumatic – price $7.50. “BE ON YOUR GUARD Against 1937 style pens with 1907 Mechanisms. Read why sacless pens failed to ‘click’ until Parker’s revolutionary Diaphragm Filler was invented by a University Scientist – know your facts, and you can’t be misled.”
Quentin Reynolds, later known as a novelist, is their Sports writer. The editorial page concerns anxiety about the growing strength of unions under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “Any Week,” the chatty section recording comments from readers, suggests that readers “might ponder with Mr. Alex Bougainville of New York City the deviousness of Mr. Adolf Hitler, the German Colossus. Mr. Bougainville has just returned from Berlin, where, says he, ‘the roars of “Heil Hitler” by friends greeting each other on the streets are so loud one can’t hear oneself think.’ Says he: ‘The country went wild with joy when Mr. Hitler nobly restored to the citizenry the right to meet one another on the field of honor.
"'This re-established dueling in Germany. This, my dear fellow, is sheer cunning on der Fuehrer’ part. It may happen that some unsuspecting Hans or Heinrich would be suspected of a mildness in his love for der Fuehrer. He is so accused by one of the Nazi’s trigger men. His heated denials will be taken as a personal affront. He is challenged. If he doesn’t accept he is doomed to the fate of the public coward. If he does accept he is going to be done in by an expert. All together now – three cheers for liberty.’
“Or he might join Mrs. Edna S. Ring of Santa Monica, California, and worry about the predicament President Roosevelt may be rigging up for himself – or which is being rigged up for him. ‘I’m as impartial as anybody can be in this worker-employer controversy,’ says she. ‘But I’m wondering whether we aren’t going to find that rule by labor is apt to be as harassing and freedom-crippling as the old-deal rule by the plutocrats. Personally, I’m still working at being a housewife, ten to fourteen hours a day, no salary and nothing for overtime. I do manage a sit-down now and then, sewing on buttons, darning socks, knotting clothes and paring potatoes. Mr. John L. Lewis hasn’t been around shaking his finger at my boss. Wall Street, the C.I.O. and the A.F.L are all one to me. And now I’ve added the chore of worrying for Mr. Roosevelt.”
Spending one’s infancy at the end of the Great Depression, before war industries proved to be the final solution for causing an economic recovery; living ages 1 to 8 in the dark days of World War II, listening to the horrors described by soldiers on leave, or reading it in the faces and behavior, counterbalanced with extreme denial expressed in manic dance styles and sentimental songs, was a long sentence that ended with such a tiny period – the atom – which nevertheless blew a giant and permanent hole in reality. Where did we go from there? As the Parker Pen people say, “Know your facts, and you can’t be misled.” And, of course, trust your “University Scientist.” They all have integrity –
At three weeks of age.
James Thomas Eilers was born 20 May 1937 at 7:45 a.m., at St. Catherine Hospital, City of East Chicago, Indiana. His mother, Ethel Ruth McColley Eilers was 25; his father, Thomas John Eilers, was 32. Doctor: A.S. Yoder.
From the first, grumpy...