November 13, 1952
Your letter on the
round up I found vivid and exciting, quite a deal all the way around. How is your Technicolored hand? If you think those calves were a
problem think how they would have been if they had known what was in store for
them. I’ve often thought that one
of the saving graces about being a so-called dumb animal is that you can’t
anticipate your problems and you don’t worry about them afterwards. Being castrated, to paraphrase P.G.
Wodehouse, can never be an unmixedly pleasant experience, but it is undoubtedly
easier if you don’t know it is going to happen, or care particularly
afterwards. The treatment you guys
gave these beasts was rough enough, god knows, but seeing them after on the
range one would never suppose that they had enjoyed (?) an experience that to a
human being might be slightly frustrating.
Remember the square
dance at the opening of the service station? Not so. ‘Twasn’t
a service station at all, but the opening of a new city hall and civic center
at the small township of Bell, a town about opposite Westchester, but about
eight miles inland. It was quite
an experience. We were slated to
dance on a parking lot (one square of us [from Rip ‘n’ Snort] and one of the Levis and Laces, Ralph [Maxheimer] to call), which had been
covered with some kind of goop to make it danceable. The teeming multitudes were to watch us dance, be impressed,
take up square dancing themselves and so live happily ever afterward.
There were several
slight hitches. The impresario who
had arranged the deal had gotten gutter-drunk early in the day and swarmed home
in a stage of black forgetfulness.
Those officials who remained were not at home, but they were certainly
If we had gone up
and told them we were the trained dog act, they would have accepted us with
bland faith, but they wouldn’t have known what to do about it. They didn’t know what to do with a
bunch of trained square dancers either, so they stared at us in glassy
contemplation then turned without another word, climbed upon a ribbon-bedecked
grandstand on the other side of the City Hall and started talking to a small
group of Solid Citizens arrayed before them. Most of these were in a happy state of rigidity too so
things proceeded in an orderly and steamily vacuous way: drunks applauding
drunks, a sweet civic picture for the multitude of frisky moppets who seemed to
be everywhere under foot.
We walked pensively
back to our parking lot where six or eight hangover cases were scattered around
on benches provided for just such emergencies. A band now appeared.
Square dance band?
Nope. Twelve pieces in
dress suits who climbed into another bandstand and began tootling away in
stringy harmony like a poor man’s Guy Lombardo. They had never heard of us and once we had heard of them, we
had no desire to repeat the experience.
factor was the sound system provided for the girl vocalist, mm-hm, they even
had one of those. This sound
system had the interesting faculty of either being off altogether or on
altogether. No delicate shading or
foolishness like that. Part of the
time this poor little dame in her flamboyant vestments was trebling away in a
thin little voice that barely reached out of the bandstand and the next second
she was drowned in a torrent of sound so overwhelming in its violence that she
could not hear the orchestra, for this sound system not only blasted eight
million decibels, but lowered the key to a thunderous base that set the
electric wires vibrating clear to El Segundo. I am told that this awe-inspiring auditory spectacle had no
visible effect on the drunken City Fathers who continued with untroubled
eloquence their paternal maunderings.
It must have been a
touching spectacle to have watched these public servants mouthing their
platitudes into this great vortex of sound and to see the audience respond with
soundless clapping as the thunder and storming broke around their liqueous
shoulders all unbeknownst. Such is
the peace of true biliousness.
Eventually Ralph got
impatient and pushed his way to the turn-table, made some rapid adjustments
with a nail-file, ushered the bewildered orchestra into the Men’s Room, locked
the door and carried on the exhibition for one of the smallest audiences in one
of the biggest arenas in square dance history. After which, we released the orchestra, most of whom had
fallen asleep on toilet seats, whispered our good-byes to the one sober
policeman and the firemen, who were all sober, but introspective, and pushed
our way to the street through platoons of children and windrows of drunks.
evening, all in all.
Last night we
appeared on a square dance program over KECA television, sort of a barn dance
deal. Very corny show, but the
dancing was fun and the experience was, too. I am told by those who saw it that we looked quite good,
considering what we start with, physiologically speaking.
If Dottie hasn’t
sent you permission to go to Shirley’s, I shall, of course, do so, by special
courier if necessary. I think it
will be great fun.
Goom bye..my best
and highest regards to all.
Holy Christ, my poor
old typing is degenerating into shambles of the first order.
I love you…