IBID, page 9
Memory rush of garden promenading.
Tears of loss:
Wash and cleanse.
As I gently touch the rim-hem of that sweet
Of that moist, supple,
The poem is obviously marred by Bowling’s use of the neologism pastwastard. Bowling himself regretted its employment, noting in chatty letters to his urologist (Byron Blackfoot: Confessions to a Pee Pee Doctor [Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Towler Press, 1989]) that it was never his intention to include it, but “sometimes you just do a thing, knowing it is wrong, inappropriate, senseless or patently moronic. Like when you eat a piece of fish that clearly isn’t fresh or when you admit to a crime you didn’t commit.” On March 16, 1932, the sixty-three-year-old poet was executed for the murder of Libby Morgan, a woman he had clearly never even met.
12. “Come to New York.” After learning that his aged father was barely making ends meet by working part time as a moonshine “still basher” in the Ozarks, Jonathan wrote to his mother (13 May1920, JBP), begging her to move the two of them to New York City where Jonathan was certain that his salary as a waiter at a midtown Childs Restaurant would be sufficient to support the three until Addicus could find work locally. Although the letter was never received, we know that it was sent because it turned up in the mailbox of one Atticus Bouchard in Pettiville, Alabama, a philatelist who kept it for the stamp on the envelope: a rare Benjamin Franklin misprint—one of only eight in existence. The image is familiar to most stamp collectors and is valued even more than the coveted “Inverted Jenny.” Franklin’s mouth is missing and he has apparently been given Thomas Jefferson’s hair. Under “U.S. Postage” are the additional words, “U.S. Pastwastard.”
13. “His name is Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla.” Jonathan’s Diary, 14 July1920. Jonathan and the superfluously named Italian-American taxi cab driver were to spend the next several hours together, drinking Allash Kummel and crème de bananes. Although neither was successful in concocting a perfect screen name for the Hollywood-bound cabby who ultimately became Rudolph Valentino, or an eye-catching alternative name for Jonathan’s forthcoming deodorant venture (Jonathan was waffling over “Dandy-de-odor-o”), their lists of possibilities for both were varied and colorful, and became even more so as the evening wore on and the men became increasingly intoxicated. There is no evidence to confirm the rumor that the sexually ambivalent Valentino asked Jonathan to share his bed for the night, although Jonathan, his heterosexual libido perhaps slightly compromised by excessive alcohol intake, did note in his diary that the young man was “too beautiful to be a man, and certainly too beautiful to be driving livery for a living. I wish him well in his film career, and especially in his efforts to get that meandering birth name of his down to a manageable moniker.” One wonders if Valentino would have enjoyed the same level of popularity and acclaim had his name been drawn from Jonathan and Rudolph’s brain-stormed catalogue of possibilities. Box 17, Ephemera: napkins, JBP.
Rod Pierre d’Anton
Fonzie Fondolfo Fonzarelli
Fluffy Bobo Googoo
Boo Boo Fuzzy Moo Cow III
Among the names the two concocted for Jonathan’s startup male deodorant company were:
M’ Good Man
Scent O’ Brawn
Derma-scent for Men
Smell Me Now
14. The death of his mother hit him hard. Less credible are other stories that circulated at the time, including one that had Jonathan spending long nights staring at his mother’s photograph and singing softly the lullabies she taught him in his youth, including a gentler version of a traditional favorite. JBP.
In the tree top.
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks
The cradle takes wing
And flies through the winter,
And flies through the spring,
And sets itself down
In the room which you see,
To be near to your Daddy
And near, dear, to me.
15. Addicus had no choice in the matter. The conversation as remembered by Jonathan’s Aunt Delilah proceeded as follows:
JONATHAN: Father, I’m going back to New York City.
ADDICUS: I’ll miss you, son.
JONATHAN: No you won’t. You’re coming with me.
ADDICUS: I’m not so sure that would be a good idea.
JONATHAN: Mother has gone to be with Jesus. The bank is about to foreclose on the farm. I’m going to start a business in New York. I think you’ll be happy there too.
ADDICUS: I’ve got Arkansas in my blood, son.
JONATHAN: Aunt Delilah, maybe you can talk some sense into him.
DELILAH: Addicus, you go on with Jonathan now. It’s for the best. There’s nothing keeping you here and it would be nice for you and Jonathan to be together.
Here Delilah’s recollections become slightly suspect.
DELILAH (continued): Now, have we settled the matter? Good. Now, look at my face. People tell me I have a lovely smile. Should I believe them?
ADDICUS: You’ve always had a beautiful smile, Delilah. And you wear your clothes like a Parisian.
DELILAH: I do, don’t I?
JONATHAN: You definitely got the looks in this family, Aunt Delilah.
ADDICUS: And the brains.
DELILAH: You stop it right this instant! You’re making me blush!
Delilah Blashette Frost, Scribblings and Babblings (privately produced mimeograph, 1944). Used by permission of Frost’s great-granddaughter Glynnis Kingston in exchange for my noting here that Glynnis, in addition to writing trenchant women’s pieces, creates customized wall hangings and has a lovely professional singing voice that has a slightly feline quality, which makes it appropriate for cat litter commercial jingles. She can be reached via her representatives Michele G. Rubin or Nadia Grooms at Writers House LLC, 21 West 26th Street, New York City 10010.
16. “Childs has taken me back on as waiter and even given me a raise!” Jonathan’s Diary, 31 May1921, JBP.
17. She was a dead ringer for Great Jane. Glover drops the ball with a giant thud here. The short paragraph in his book devoted to Jonathan’s association with Kissy Valentine is based solely upon conjecture. He apparently doesn’t bother to look at Jonathan’s journal entries for the period and seems unaware of the existence of Kissy’s lengthy diary, which was published in 1987 by Man Love Press as Kissy Tell. Glover was apparently so uncomfortable writing about the relationship that he painted it with as few brushstrokes as possible. For a biographer usually given to breathless literary hyperbole, he is here emotionally uninvested and descriptively spare.
“While working at Childs, Jonathan briefly dated a woman named Kissy Valentine who he said reminded him of his former girlfriend Great Jane. Kissy and Jonathan subsequently found themselves incompatible and parted as friends. Kissy went on to a career on the stage. Her favorite soup was potato leek.”
Glover makes no mention of the fact that the incompatibility had much to do with the fact that Kissy Valentine was, in actuality, Wade Kissman, a transvestite and Childs regular who fell in love with Jonathan and who, after revealing her true gender to him, wa
“Kissy is a man! I guess I suspected it all along. But maybe I didn’t want to accept it. I did have strong initial feelings, I will admit it. Feelings that, truth be told, haven’t disappeared entirely. I want no physical relationship with Kissy/Wade—that is for certain. And yet I am still drawn to the warmth and joy I feel when I am around her. (I still can’t stop thinking of him as a her!) It is the damnest thing! Kissy asked me if I loved her. I said, “Not in the way you want me to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t remain friends.” This made Kissy cry. She cried while I waited on tables 17, 21 and 23. Then while I was giving table 27 a coffee refill, the cops came gangbusting in for their weekly raid. As per their usual, they hauled off a bunch of the fairy-regulars, including poor Kissy and her “girlfriends” Miss Gloria Swan Song, Is-a-whora Duncan and Nastymova. As per my usual, I contributed to the waiter kitty to bail them all out.”
* Struck through, perhaps due to its similarity in pronunciation to “Coarse hair”
THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
1. It was a sizeable investment. We can only guess at the identity of the mysterious benefactor. I am inclined to believe it was J.P. Morgen who twenty years earlier had been suspected of having paid Jonathan’s legal fees in the lawsuit filed to free him from his indentureship with the Grund Traveling Circus and Wild West Show. In the interim, Morgen had significantly increased his financial holdings through shrewd wartime investments and successful stock and bond trades. There was another reason why the Arkansas businessman might have been a prime candidate to loan start-up capital for Dandy-de-odor-o, Inc.: Morgen suffered from a severe form of bromhidrosis that left him virtually friendless, often emptied corporate board rooms, and on one occasion cleared out a well-attended stockholders’ meeting, the hall subsequently requiring fumigation. A strong affinity by Morgen for such a venture would not be an implausibility. One wonders at the same time if Jonathan’s battlefield inspiration for Dandy-de-odor-o might have been antedated by a hospital visit from the aromatic businessman on the eve of the boy’s scheduled operation, a half-forgotten memory later revived—as olfactory memories often are—as fresh and aromatic as the day of their birth.
For a different opinion, consider Glover and Furman’s theory that the money for Jonathan’s start-up company came from his academic mentor Andrew Bloor. They posit that Bloor may very well have inherited some of his uncle’s estate following the old man’s death during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. There would be some truth to this if Bloor’s uncle Cleve MacDougal had, in fact, passed away. (The Spanish Flu was notorious for sparing the very young and the very old, a phenomenon that baffles scientists to this day.) Apparently, neither Glover nor Furman read the Carpentertown (Arkansas) Gazette’s retraction of MacDougal’s obituary. I include it here.
We regret to note that the obituary for Mr. Cleve MacDougal that ran in yesterday’s paper was published prematurely. Mr. MacDougal is not dead, nor has he ever been dead. He was taken ill with the flu but he is most decidedly on the mend. He wishes everyone to know that he should be up to entertaining visitors by the end of the week and that his sizeable estate is still “up for grabs,” so all potential heirs are admonished to be on their best behavior.
2. Jonathan hired him on the spot. Chief chemist Hiram Diles would remain employed for the next forty-two years in Dandy-de-odor-o’s Research and Development Division.
3. Jonathan hired him half way through the interview. Chief financial officer Charleton Caldwell would remain a part of the Dandy-de-odor-o corporate family for the next forty-five years.
4. Jonathan hired him after several months of harassing phone calls, an extensive letter-writing campaign and at least one episode of drunken stalking. Ironically, it was Harlan Davison who was to become Jonathan’s most trusted lieutenant and, in time, his best friend. In his letter to his sister Shirley Watkins, written several months after he was brought on board (19 November 1922, HD), Davison states as much. An excerpt follows.
“After several months of harassing phone calls, an extensive letter-writing campaign (please thank all your third graders for their efforts) and at least one sad episode I will not go into here, I am once more a soldier in the army of the employed. I am quickly earning Mr. Blashette’s trust and am growing more and more confident that the company will be my home for many years to come. You need worry no longer about your wayward, rudderless younger brother”
5. Davison was related to Carry Nation. Griswold Lanham, “Harlan Davison: the Three-legged Business Marvel’s Right-Hand Man,” Journal of Entrepreneurial History 13 (1990): 25-42. In an amazing historical coincidence, Davison was also related to Reid Lowell, the only saloon owner who succeeded in a counter-offensive against Mrs. Nation’s reign of terror. While Nation was off on a road trip, taking her whacks at a new crop of demon “rummy houses,” Lowell visited Nation’s own home and chopped into fine kindling most of its Adirondack porch and lawn furniture with his own sharply whetted hatchet. Pinned to the resultant wreckage was a note that read, “Like you, Mrs. Nation, I did this stone sober. Unlike you, I shall now go and have myself a pint to celebrate.”
6. Bardock joined the firm in the summer. The name of Jonathan’s new accountant was originally Joseph Berdache. When Joseph was six years old, his father was informed by a family friend, a linguist, that Berdache literally meant, “homosexual, cross-dressing American Indian male.” A legal name change was immediately petitioned for all members of the family. Ellery Reinhold, The Story of Dandy-de-odor-o, the Little Company That Could…and Then Did (New York: Christopher Street Press, 1972), 99.
7. “Today I introduced Jonny to Winny. It was an instant match.” Davison had known artist Winny Wieseler since the two were kids. His journal entry for the day goes on to say:
“I hardly needed to say a word beyond the briefest of introductions. She looked at him and he looked at her and she looked at his third leg and he looked down at his third leg and then up at her and she met his eyes with hers and smiled one of those big goofy Winny smiles and I knew instantly that he knew that this wasn’t going to be a problem and he smiled with obvious relief—one of those crooked, face-scrunching Jonathan Blashette grins and then they fell into a conversation originally about beer nuts which I had put out in a bowl on the table but then about everything under the sun and the conversation continued through the afternoon and into the evening and perhaps even well into the wee small hours of the morning (I excused myself after an hour or so). It is an amazing and wonderful thing to see two dear friends hit it off so easily and so completely. I will be patting myself on the back over this one for months to come.”
Davison’s Diary, 6 January1923.
8. “I think she’s the finest girl I ever met…and she even likes jigsaw puzzles.” I bow to Lana Leggio, who, in her biography of Winny, Winsome Winny (Springfield, Massachusetts: Cohpannamo Books, 1958) evocatively describes the reasons for the attraction:
“Jonathan was quite taken with Winny. And it wasn’t simply the fact that she loved and accepted him as he was. He embraced everything about her—her commitment to progressive causes (woman’s rights, abolition of child labor, prison reform), her highly evolved taste in art and music, and her colorful, sustaining friendships. As Winny Wieseler evolved from shy country girl to a thoroughly modern force of nature, Jonathan Blashette eased back and enjoyed the ride, content to let this new and—he hoped—permanent love of his life navigate the couple’s destiny—a destiny lovingly shared, its catapult sprung from the shimmy and shake of those wild, reckless, wacky, and feckless 192
Nothing sums up better the winning wit and whimsy of Winny Wieseler than her parody of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem ‘My Candle Burns.’
My ice cream cone drips at both ends;
It will not last this heat;
But ah my tummy, and oh my tongue—
It tastes so good to eat!”
9. Winny demonstrated her propensity for protest even as an outwardly timid and withdrawn young girl. Safe and secure behind the private fortress of her correspondence, Winny pulled no punches, as this, one of many angry letters she dashed off to those public figures who raised her youthful hackles, will attest.
March 18, 1907
Dear Ex-President Cleveland,
Today you said that sensible and responsible women do not want to vote. You said that God in his infinite wisdom had worked out a social and political hierarchy with men on top.
Mr. Cleveland, I am only eleven years old but I am old enough to know that you are a fat, stupid man who would do well to keep his stupid, fat-headed opinions to himself.
The day will come when bloated, bullying men like yourself will be forced to give way to women of wisdom and fair-mindedness who will take this country in the right direction.
In the meantime I will continue to remind men like you that such pronouncements make you appear ever the more stupid.
PS May I have a picture of you for my scrapbook? Thank you.
There is no evidence that the former president ever responded. Ibid., 14-15.
10. She was a talented artist, to boot. Winny was so heavily influenced by the first International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920 that she immediately framed her next protest for mixed media. Her piece, “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp,” displayed at the Günther Gallery in Philadelphia in 1921, depicted a shellacked foot, described by Winny as “a symbol of the downtrodden, trampled upon by those of pride and privilege. I want people to see the foot and think of Sacco and Vanzetti who have feet of their own but who also have hands and hearts and lungs and want nothing more than use those lungs to breathe free and to use their feet to stand tall and unflattened by the boot of corporate greed.” The foot on display was Winny’s. Literally. She lost interest in the project after two exhausting days of standing behind a black curtain with her right unshod and shellacked foot exposed and extended out upon a pedestal, an inviting target for spitballs and mischievous feather tickles. Ibid., 143-47