Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Friday, October 28, 2016

An End of Something

Perhaps not many people remember the TV show, “I Led 3 Lives”.  It was a popular drama from 1951 through 1953 based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, played by actor Richard Carlson. Philbrick was an advertising man, who joined the Communist Party to become a FBI informant.

I was also leading three lives, so to speak: bank bookkeeper, struggling writer and college student. I was also married. It was a full life – a really, really very full life. I was in the fall semester of 1970 taking as many credits as the law allowed to an evening student at Temple. This included General Appreciation Music, American Society, United States History to the Civil War and English Composition 9e.
I finished the semester with a 3.50 average. It was History that pulled me down; I only received a C. This probably appears ironic, since I am something of a history lover, but during those turbulent times many professors were admitted Marxists. They had heavily infiltrated the History Department and I kept getting them. They had an agenda and it certainly wasn’t to make Capitalism look good. Several professors had become instructors as a means of escaping the draft and Vietnam. Since they had their degree anyway; it was cheaper than moving to Canada.

Escaping the draft was certainly not the aim of my United States History teacher, for she was a young woman and there was no drafting of females. She was; however, someone who did not look favorably on the country she was teaching about. She spent the half-year doing all she could to disparage the Founding Fathers, especially Benjamin Franklin. I tended to refute her views in the essay questions, which did not make me teacher’s pet.
These were the years when feminism was growing,  the glory years of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, and a growing list of Feminist writers. The campus were rife with feminist rallies and you never knew if opening a door for a female would bring you a "Thank you" or a slap to the jowls. I was raised a gentleman; I don't believe opening a door to anyone is a tester of assumed superiority. I believe it is just polite.

 We had one such outspoken young Feminist in our American Society classes. American Society was part of my major curriculum of Sociology and was exactly what its name implied, a study of American Society. She was an interrupter, a constant disputer of the teacher and always asking questions all ready answered. At every opportunity she would climb upon her soapbox and I was surprised she didn't literary climb upon her desk, one foot on the seat and the other on the desktop like Joan of Ark leading her army into battle.
As the weeks passed she became more insistent that women really should run everything, except a home.  Her reasoning was simple. Women outlived men because men got strokes and heart attacks.
She thus posted the question, “What do you think would happen if women took over?”
I answered, “Then they would be the ones getting the strokes and heart attacks and dying early.”

I had a tendency in those days (me on the right, 1970) of getting myself in trouble by
speaking the truth, and the truth would be as women moved up in areas once reserved only for men the gender gap in death began to narrow.  In 1970 women lived about 4 years longer than men on average; by 2010 this was closer to 2 years.  Women in that time frame have made many inroads into the so called “man’s world”.  Historically women have always outlived men and it is still true, which one can see if they visit any co-ed nursing home, but the gap is narrowing and as women continue to not only move into traditional pressure jobs held by men as well as jobs that present a lot of physical danger we will most likely see the gap shrink even further.
This has nothing to do with superiority; it has to do with commonsense. I have two daughters and I raised them to pursue whatever job they wished and never doubted they could do it.

I did two long papers for the course. One was completely up to the pupil and I wrote “Fallacy of Higher Education”, which argued that not everybody did needed a college education and pushing every one into college simply diluted the quality of the education and would result in a lot of frustrated graduates. It is so much fun to attack the necessity of the institution you are striving to have approve your work. I stand by my positions in that paper, and in others I wrote considered anti-higher education, even more so today. We need a complete overhaul of the education system.
My other paper was assigned and was on the Military-Industrial Complex.

I really did appreciate Music Appreciation. It was supposed
to be another one of those easy to ace courses, and it proved to be, not like Economic History of the United States that I had taken earlier. I enjoyed the course and over the length I built my record collection with a progression of Classical Albums from Haydn and Bach to that of a new and then unknown composer named Anthony Lloyd Webber. (Right is Anthony Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1970.) One of the last pieces of the last class was “Jesus Chris Superstar” and our Professor only introduced it because in his opinion this composer had a future. It was unknown at the time.

My favorite subject was English Composition 9e. We had to read three novels and analyze them, Joseph Conrand’s Lord Jim; Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest and Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King, but the most important aspect of the class was the writing of a Term Paper on some American literary light.  Well, you know me, where others chose William Faulkner, Tom Wolfe, Ernest Hemmingway and so forth; I presented as my proposal, H. P. Lovecraft (Left).
I don’t think the Professor was enamored by my choice, in fact he didn't think I could pull it off, but he okayed it. Now as the end of 1970 fast approached in was near time for a final draft and presentation. Someone in the class asked how many pages it should be. The Professor said he expected at last 12 pages. The person who asked the question groaned at that length. My own initial draft was already a bit longer. Here is how I described it to Joe Rubio in a November 3 letter:

Speaking of school, there is only a couple more
weeks this semester. The twenty-first is my last class, but that one is Music. We turned in our term papers for English last Wednesday evening. I hope I get a good mark. Man, I put in a lot of work. My original was 87 pages long including everything.
When I got the graded paper back the professor had written a sarcastic, “Thanks!!” across the title page. He gave me an A. After the class ended he asked me to stay. He wanted me to consider publishing the essay. I eventually expanded it into a book called, Lurker on the Bookshelf: A Biographical Study of H. P. Lovecraft.

I received about this time notification that the latest story I had submitted to Robert A. W. Lowndes for “Magazine of Horror” had been accepted. But then I heard nothing further, did not receive a check and my future submissions were also not acknowledged. I did not know the fate of my story, “Conjured” until many decades later, thanks to the internet.
I was searching my own name when I discovered my story. It had been published in the March 1971 issue of Startling Mystery Magazine. I eventually learned that Health-Knowledge, Inc., the publisher of these magazines had collapsed in 1971 and disappeared from the literary world. My story may have been in the last of their issues. Robert Lowndes went on to work for another publisher on a long-running magazine called “Sexology”. I never had or read any copies of that pulp, but given what was to come, I could have probably written for such a thing.

     I never did receive any recompense for “Conjured”. It was mentioned in Mike Howlett’s book, The Weird World of Eerie Publications (Feral House, 2010) and was included in Startling Mystery Stories: The Stephen King Collection offered up for $1,800 in 2009. Stephen King’s earliest tales had been published in the same magazine. Big deal with this so-called collection. King had two stories included, exactly twice as many as I and any other author within the hoard.

The year ended rather domestically. We had Thanksgiving dinner with Lois’ dad at Ingleneuk Tea House in Swarthmore. It was a quiet, cozy, sedate dining establishment. It didn’t serve alcohol and nothing particular fancy about the food, just kind of establishment American. Some people have described it as “almost like eating in a retirement home.”
It burned down in 2000. (A Inglenook is a corner or recess on the sides of a large, open fireplace, a very cozy place.)

In those years we had Thanksgiving with Lois’ father and Christmas with my folks. (Left, Lois and I  at my parents on Christmas, 1970.)
Joe Rubio got a leave for Christmas and came home on December 16. (Right, Joe at our Philadelphia apartment around Christmas 1970.) He had to be back at Fort Lewis by December 28. His December 10 letter indicated his anticipation of being
home for the holiday, but he seemed a more subdued Joe when he arrived home. They threw a large party at his home for him, but he kind of hung back from the frivolity much of the evening. He seemed somewhat morose. In his letter of December 10 he talked of the short time he had left in the service and of coming home soon for good.

About now I sometimes look back at all the things I’ve done while in the service. Some are good memories, some not so good, but one thing for sure, I’ve learned a lot in my two years.  So when I do get out, I won’t miss the Army, but at the same time I won’t feel bitter about having to spend two years of valuable time in the Army.

Actually, there would be some bitterness and it wouldn’t be until sometime later I learned of the things “not so good”; the things he never put in his letters. Meanwhile, as December waned and the New Year approached, we lost our apartment heat.

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