Friday, November 14, 2014
Down, down, down ...
I woke up on Tuesday, my 70th birthday, with a sore throat. Nice. (It would get "nicer" as the hours advanced.) This was not good news: We'd planned to drive that day to Pottsville, Penn., to donate my entire John O'Hara collection to the Schuylkill County Historical Society, a collection that included all of his books, many of the movies he worked on (or that were made from his novels), and many other goodies, including copies of all the "Entertainment Week" features he wrote for Newsweek back in the 1940s. I'd spent an afternoon at KSU copying them all from bound copies of the magazine.
Anyway, I didn't want to delay the donation, for Pottsville is in the mountainous region of eastern Penn., winter is approaching, and I didn't want to wait till spring to make the drive. So off we went, proving, once again, that you don't get wiser with age.
We arrived at the Pottsville Ramada Inn (right downtown) after dark. We've stayed there before. Ramada has named the hotel's meeting and conference rooms after O'Hara works and characters: The English Room (Julian English, dark star of Appointment in Samarra), The Lockwood Room (for The Lockwood Concern), and the John O'Hara Ballroom.
The Society does not open until 1:30 on Wednesday, but that's okay: There were some sites I wanted to visit, including the farm where he spent all his boyhood summers, only about five miles away. (His father was a physician and could afford such things.) I'd driven along Panther Valley Road before, but I'd not known the address. This time I did. And we found it easily (GPS!), and were sad to see that it's looking much the worse for wear. No surprise, really. They bought the place in 1907 (John was only 2) and had to sell it when Dr. O'Hara died at age 57 in 1925.
After that--and a few other sites--we sat in the local McDonald's and read and worked until about 1:30 when we headed over to the Society.
I was feeling ever more crappy, by the way--throat, congestion, energy about zero.
I had made arrangements with the Executive Director to make the donation between 1:30 and 2. But when we got there, he had just gone to lunch, and the two remaining employees didn't know anything about any donation. Awkward. So we left the thee cartons--big, heavy--right on the floor by the entrance. And set off for home about 1:45.
I was feeling ever more crappy, by the way--exacerbated now by the singularly unsatisfying transfer of materials I'd spent some years accumulating--not to mention some $$$.
Oh well. The materials are where they belong. O'Hara's home town. When I first visited the Society (two years ago), they had virtually nothing on O'Hara (he is not popular in Pottsville: He told too many secrets, I guess), and the Research Director told me O'Hara was "a spoiled brat"--a phrase he repeated on Wednesday. Well, "spoiled brat" or not--he's a winner of a National Book Award and an important figure in twentieth century American literature (friends with Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, and others), despite his nearly invisible status these days on our cultural radar.
I was feeling ever more crappy, by the way.
And by the time we got home--about 8 on Wednesday night--I plopped into bed and pretty much stayed there until about an hour ago. I'm going back for another visit (to the bed, not Pottsville) as soon as I finish this little posting.
I'll post some pictures of some things when I have the energy to do it--tomorrow? Let's hope ...