mad in pursuit: letters from james & orpha, summer of '26

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Enough of longing -- James provides a tiny portrait of the times.

Postmarked Monday 8.2.26, from James in Lynbrook NY


My family is out at the other end of the Island for the week-end again. The last three days have been rainy, delaying cellar digging. As a result, the foundation won’t be in until the end of this week.

A quotation from a book by Simeon Strunsky I have been reading should appeal to you:

“On Sunday the newsman is busy sorting out the twelve different sections of the Sunday paper and putting the comic section on top. Nor can I think of anything in human affairs which can be more futile in the eyes of a Creator than a stationer sorting out comic supplements in the full glory of early sunrise.”

Enclosed are some duplicate pictures which you may wish to give to your family.

Last evening I listened to a New York Philharmonic concert via radio; Nickolai Sokoloff conducting. It was a fine program. The concluding number was called “Victory Ball,” a musical interpretation of Alfred Noyes poem by that name. It is about the exuberance at a dance after the news of the Armistice; its last two lines are “God! How the dead men grin from the wall, As they look on the fun at the Victory Ball.”

It was about as effective a piece of interpretive music of that sort as I’ve heard – it ended with taps played on a bugle, dwindling away into silence.

Write me your plans as soon as you know them.

Tell me how you feel about coming here. As for me – you know.




I can't really tell who Simeon Strunsky is, but Google reveals his fame is in another quote of his: "Famous remarks are very seldom quoted correctly."

About radio: interesting to remember that popular radio was a new phenomenon in the 1920's.

Ernest Schelling's A Victory Ball (a.k.a. Fantasy for Orchestra) was inspired in 1922 by Alfred Noyes' impassioned anti-war poem.



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