AS QUINTILIAN HAD IT
Whether we're gangsters or priests, all of us have a secret yearning to have sportsman put in apposition with our names. My only claim to the name of sportsman is that I am a charter subscriber to SI, wherein I was delighted to read about that great Sherpa sportsman, Tenzing Norgay, whom I visited in Holy Family Hospital, Patna City, Bihar, India on Christmas afternoon, 1952. Tenzing had contracted fever climbing up within 800 meters of the top of Everest with the famous Swiss mountaineer, Raymond Lambert.
But has any sportsman directed your attention, as I have that of my composition class at Creighton University, to the pieces of excellent English prose occasionally found in SI? I just read "Hero," the Johnny Podres piece in EVENTS & DISCOVERIES (SI, Oct. 17) to my class of nurses as an example of what an "A" theme is like. We also took time to study the excellent introduction to Best of Two Worlds (SI, Oct 17), wherein the scholarly president of Yale University showed how "reddere auditores attentos, benevolos et dociles," just as Quintilian would have it. Good English prose is where you find it.
PAUL F. SMITH, S. J.
I noticed the merman cartoon by Chon Day (SI, Oct. 24) and I am still laughing. I guess I just happen to be crazy about Chon Day's cartoons, but I think it's one of the funniest ones you've ever run.
How about some more of Day's stuff?
?What Price Dory?, a collection of Chon Day cartoons and Alfred Loomis witticisms, will appear November 7, published by Gilbert Press, Inc.—ED.
Paul O'Neil, raking the autumn leaves of U.S.A. '55 (SI, Oct. 3), has deplorably avoided the gutters of New York. It may be true that for many fall is haunted by "the old voyageurs, or...wagon trains, grinding west to Oregon," but to many more, those of us who portage the rapids of lunchtime shoppers and whose underground wagon train grinds ever so laboriously home each night, autumn is too wonderful a time of year ever to waste on the countryside. Autumn belongs to the city. I am sure America is dotted with worthy urban areas, but when I say the city I mean, of course, New York. In September the city comes to life. Summer evacuees, no sooner over the dusty thresholds of their apartments, jump to their telephones, and friends, scattered by the summer sun, joyfully reunite in massed ranks as one cocktail party succeeds another. Once more each morning the sidewalks are dotted with children back from camp, mountains and seashore, who hop, skip and jump their way to school or coagulate at corners waiting for the school bus.
Like the lamplighters of old, theatrical producers touch the dark marquees of Broadway and the names of new plays and old stars light up the autumn sky (alas, only too often to be extinguished by critics whose days in the sun have not mellowed their opinions). Carnegie Hall, the summer habitat of evangelical vegetarians and suspect healers, once more becomes the showcase of the world's greatest musicians. The antique shops of 57th Street, the most elegant thoroughfare in the world, gleam with the colors of every contemporary and old master, with Meissen, Spode, and Sevres china from the tables of tycoons and princes, with Marie Antoinette's boudoirs, George the Third's libraries and Queen Anne's silver chests. Fifth Avenue's fashion windows—which clothed us in fall black as early as July—now point the way to the Caribbean, to Mexico, to the Riviera.
The city, as monumentally lifeless in summer as ruins in the Haitian jungle, sparkles, glistens and breathes life without compare into its citizens, who swarm over the scaffolding of new office buildings, new apartment houses, new museums, who happily buffet their way from street to street, fill a thousand aromatic restaurants, drink a thousand gallons of gin at lunch, deal with a thousand bad-tempered cab drivers, a thousand traffic tickets, the thousands and thousands of little pleasures, excitements and disappointments that make fall, New York, the most wonderful season in the most wonderful of all possible worlds. Try it some time, Mr. O'Neil.
? O'Neil, who will try anything once—and meant no slight to the big city—has penitentially sent out for a thousand gallons of gin, fully expects to sparkle, glisten, happily buffet his way from street to street, swarm over the scaffolding of new buildings, and end the season as monumentally lifeless as a ruin in the Haitian jungle.—ED.