HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

September 6, 1990

Hey, they’re, Udo!–

Happy to receive a letter after a month’s silence, which led me to wonder if you had returned to the CCCP as an advisor on their cold fusion program. Your description of life over there would not tempt too many leotoro-chemises to leave the Catskills for a tasty breakfast at the KOCMOC, even if you could bring your own can of Log Cabin Maple Syrup. The IGA manager will be relieved to know that your patronage will continue.

Your invention of the combination wheelchair and racing bicycle is the greatest advance since James Thurber’s combination ironing board and stepladder. Yours is better because it provides mobility. If you haven’t filed a patent application, move fast. The sidewalk entrepreneurs in the new CCCP are slicker than the shell—game artists on the Bowery. Deal only with Gorchyboff or Yeltsin. However, if you set up an assembly plant over there, I could be the personnel director, and recruit the factory workers.

“I see from your application, Afanassy, that you assembled in Chelyabinsk.”


“Can you tell me a little about what you assembled?”

“Assamble ploshchad’ for how you call … ralli.”

“Not Party rallies. I mean putting machines together… bicycles.”

“Is bye-see-kol vot?”

“I’ll look in the slovar’ya. Ah!… velocipéd!”

”You want I ride velocipéd in ralli?”

“No, no. Do you understand ‘wrench’?”

“Da … onderstand! Navar forgatting Yoo Ess cowboys… kinokartina! ‘Minn—vile, book at wrench’!”

“I see. Well, how about putting on the chains?”

“Marx say vorkers got notting to lose bot chains! You want I poot on again?”

“We may not be able to offer you anything, Afanassy.”

“Dot’s ho—kay. I not used kapitalistichyeskiy’vork ettik. Go bock Chelyabinsk, join ralli again.”

“If you want a job, be sure to come and see us.”

“You vant ralli, kom see me.”

The time has come to rip away another mask of hypocrisy and lay bare another rotten core! You have no doubt already examined the enclosed article from The NY Times about the Ulster & Delaware, and the xerox copy of the Delaware & Ulster brochure.

When you sent the brochure, dogs began to howl in the distance, vultures gathered, black clouds covered the sun, and I experienced a deep sense of unease, created by the suspicion that Something Was Not Right. Let me explain.

My mother’s Aunt Hattie (I’m not making this up) used to tell me stories about taking the Ulster & Delaware out of Kingston, and riding to a summer resort in the Catskills. It may have been Stamford, but I can’t remember. Anyhow, the Ulster & Delaware name-from the two counties-remained in memory. That contemptible, deliberately deceptive literature about ‘Delaware & Ulster’ should be burned openly on Main Street, as soon as the environmental impact report has been approved! These frauds are making out like train bandits by cashing in on a long and honorable history, and making a mockery of Aunt Hattie’s support! To make matters worse, their general office is supposed to be in Stamford, which is not even shown on their maps! (Try to control your temper, Udo.)

My plan (I know you will approve) is this: first, have our Udobbs Press attorneys, Snayre & De Luzian, file papers to stop the Delaware & Ulster from making a hollow mockery of childhood recollections (and my Great Aunt Hattie) by continuing to milk cheapjack nostalgia. Then–here’s the beauty part–after dragging them through the courts, we snap up the rights, and change the name, but not back to Ulster & Delaware! We keep the U & D logo, but re-name it the Udo & Dobbs! Think of it, Big Tim! As copies cascade from the Udobbs Press printing plant, you rush them by backpack to the Stamford railroad station, from where they are carried FREE to Kingston, loaded on a Hudson River Day Line boat, and speeded to New York bookstores! And discount copies can be sold to U & D passengers by candy butchers who patrol the aisles screaming the titles, to the delight of the tourists! Also, when you need to visit your science museum in Oneonta, jump on the next U & D and wave your owner’s pass!

You are no doubt so excited by this concept that you want to sit in the shade and think over the details before you respond. That will work out O.K. See following paragraph.

This coming Saturday (the 8th) we leave for a one-week trip to Santa Barbara, where we will enjoy their water shortage and visit Mary’s sister. Along the way our camera crew will shoot footage of enduring interest for the eleven o’clock news. I will provide incisive commentary on Gilroy, “The Garlic Capital Of The World,” the delay at Highway 101 in Paso Robles, and the house wine at Michael’s restaurant in Santa Barbara (not Zinfandel). Mary will discuss world affairs and the influence of sea power on history in the Middle East. I will also pass out literature promoting your Wheelchair Repair & Resale business at every gas stop, plus the Fall List for Udobbs Press. No stone will be left unturned. Brace for an avalanche of new business.

And stay tuned.

Fred C. (“Tonight At 11!”) Dobbs

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