The Pittsburgh Press (March 17, 1943)
I DARE SAY —
By Florence Fisher Parry
How long ago it seems when the President told us that we should not lose one social gain, come war… What now?.. Feed the world and have our cake too? Ah millennium, how you do elude us!
Heaven knows we need to sell war bonds; but whenever I see a news picture of some nice modest factor in his community blushing under the photo-flash of a news photographer who has just “snapped” him kissing some glamor girl on a war bond kissing tour (a kiss for every $100 bond!) – it disgusts me.
Surely, we can combine dignity with our war bond sales.
Now might be a good time to reread that excellent compilation, the Complete Works of Stephen Vincent Benét. We have lost too many good writers this year. Erie Knight and Stephen Vincent Benét would have been my very choice to set down, imperishably, after the melee, the terrible odor of its smoke…
Benét did not feel himself qualified. He said, shortly before his death:
I’m 44. I haven’t been in it. I won’t have had the experience to write about it… It will be written out of the emotion created in the hearts of the men who have seen it.
I do not agree. Stephen Crane wrote The Red Badge of Courage. And Benét himself, steeped in the history he pored over in the library of his Army father, set down one of the most vivid pictures of the Civil War ever to stand among the classics of our literature.
How many of our sons are now in the Air Force? And do you think for a moment that these men will return, come peace, and keep for long their feet upon the ground, having known high flight?
Besides, the blueprint for the future charts the stratosphere, and those of us still earthbound will be speaking a dead language, not understanding the brave new idiom of our sons.
Shall we let the war end, then, without trying to learn at least its primer?
Here are some good books; I think all of us with sons or husbands in the Air Force should saturate themselves with their reading:
Primer for parents of bombers: John Steinbeck’s Bombs Away, factual and accurate, with a preface that will make the mothers and fathers of these sons proud!
Both of Exupéry’s induplicable prose-poems, Wind, Sand and Stars and Flight to Arras. (I am of the mind that these two books constitute the most thrilling contribution that literature will procure out of this war).
A remarkably good compilation of “flight” reading, gleaned from almost all the really articulate fliers, and called (inadequately enough) Happy Landings. For they are not all happy landings. The book contains terror as well as ecstasy, and horror beyond imagining. But when you have done reading it, you will comprehend far better than before, the restless questing soul of your son – when he returns and tries to live without wings.
I am glad Gen. MacArthur’s men came back with their insect exterminators and sprayed their flit over the Jap survivors. That’ll show ‘em, maybe, that were not as tender-hearted a people as they thought we were.
What a long and terrifying way we have come, we who by nature wouldn’t hurt a fly!
Well, I see by the papers they popped the question to the President – rather obliquely, to be sure, but the question. What did the President think about what his party people thought about 1944?
To which the President, this time, did not recommend a dunce’s cap and a dunce’s corner. He just parried. And when our President parries, he PARRIES. He didn’t say yes, he didn’t say no, he just looked irritated. Oh, for a man who cleaves an issue with an explosive YES or NO!