HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

Hey, they’re, Udo!–

(Even Though You Don’t Want It)

TIME: 16:04 P.M.
BAROMETER: 29.90′ Hg. ↔

O.K, UDO!….
….y’ wanna play hardball, hah?

I respond to the article on Barthelme by criticizing his equating minimalism with collage, and you come back with a letter formatted in montage, which is the closest you can get to college on your word processor!  Snappin’ my wire a little, hah Udo?

All i got to do is pick up the phone and Merriwell and Bart Hodge and Dink Stover drive over from New Haven in Frank’s Marmom and stop in front of 78 Main Street and sing “Boola-Boola” all night in their raccoon coats at the tops of their lungs accompanied by the plunks of their ukuleles.

The whittlers down at the IGA know right off what happened: nobody monkeys with Fred C. Dobbs.


I DON’T WANT TO THROW MY WEIGHT AROUND, UDO, but a little word to the wise: there are not too many of us around who remember that you belonged to The Sporty Club in The Forbidden City, and flaunted pressed shoelaces and pressed socks.  How you got a security clearance with that on your record I’ll never know.  But if you don’t want to be the laughingstock of the whittlers who sit on the front porch of the IGA, I suggest you keep your nose clean and your sidewalk shoveled in Stamford, where fops are not suffered gladly.  I shall say no more, unless you force the issue with more montages.  ‘Kay?


  1. Yes, you wrote about the Rockefeller University Writer’s Conference (you called it Rockefeller College at the time), and I responded on 7 April, expressing confusion.  You never volunteered another word of explanation, so I am still confused.  Please amplify (as you should have done months ago).
  2. The nom de plume of the former Los Alamosite who lives in Schenectady was lifted (as you may know) from the pages of P. G. Wodehouse, who named one of his characters Stanley Featherstonehaugh-Ukridge, pronounced Yewk-ridge.  (I have five Wodehouse (pronounced Woodhouse) novels, but Featherstonehaugh-Ukridge is not in any of them, so I can’t verify spellings.)  You should advise former Los Alamosite that the truth is known, and nothing is to be gained by perpetuating this imposture.  At the next reumion he should stand up and confess, and stop living a lie.
  3. FURTHER TO THE OSTERHOUTS: Before you understandable astonishment abates, let me offer further details: the Osterhout parents who owned Springside Farm (closer to Franklin than to Oneonta), were named Alexander and, I think, Mildred.  They had four or five children, but the only names I can remember are Ernest, Ronald, and Gladys.  (The current Oneonta phone directory lists an Ernest Osterhout, but we didn’t call him.)  They had another daughter who was a school teacher, but I don’t remember her name.  Elaina may be the granddaughter of one of these children or one of their cousins in the same age group.  BUT!…. here’s the grabber: Mrs. Osterhout’s father, whose last name was by coincidence Alexander, used to drive over to Springside Farm in a horse and buggy.  Honest.  He had a horse with a “watch” eye.  If you never heard of that, it’s another word for walleye, a kind of strabismus accompanied by loss of coloration.  The horse is perfectly safe but it looks wild-eyed.  As kids, we hid behind the trees whenever Mr. Alexander paid a visit, and peaked at the horse’s eye.  No end of thrills at Springside Farm.  Unfortunately it has been neglected by new owners, who use it for an auto wrecking yard.  Sic transit gloria Springside.

    SPRINGSIDE FARM: Foreground: ol’ swimmin’ hole; upslope: cowbarn, house, etc. [Road lies between barn and house: ←Oneonta, Franklin→]

  4. If Thomas turned down the change to appear in further productions of the Catskill Art Players, he may have made a smart decision.  There’s A Broken Heart For Every Light On Broadway.  He’ll be happier earning $250,000 a year with his PhD in electrochemistry, and attending revivals of “East Lynne” in Stamford.  He’ll have the best of both worlds, plus discount coupons to shop at the IGA.
  5. YOU ARE RETICENT about cold fusion.  I have asked for your position on this development many times, but you have not responded.  Does this mean that in your cellar (now dry) or barn or garage (possibly flooded) you have set up a cold fusion cell and refuse to discuss it on the advice of your attorneys?  I read that Los Alamos has dropped its agreement with U of Utah on the grounds that Utah has been dragging its feet.  Utah counters that the patent process is taking much longer than anticipated, and on the advice of their attorneys they are divulging nothing until the patents have been formalized (by Ralph Carlisle Smith).  If you have a garage-type setup, always wear dark glasses to avoid losing your eyebrows if nylons or proteins escape from the bubbling cell.  To invoke Dorothy Parker:Men who peer bare-eyed
    Appear debonair-eyed,
    But men who sport glasses
    Thwart browloss from gases.
    I never heard anything about this episode until John asked me in one of his letters what I knew about it, which was nothing at all.  He had no recollection of any such thing ever happening.  He said your version went something like this: you and Yeffe and some others visited John and Jeanne at their house in Benedict Canyon.  Differences arose.  Jeanne told everybody to get out, or else told John to get rid of them.  The house was built on a steep hillside (I was there many times).  Somehow, in the course of departing down the steep concrete steps, one of those accompanying you either slipped and fell or were pushed and tripped, and reached the bottom suffering from rent garments and/or abrasions.That was the story John asked me to confirm or deny, and I couldn’t do either.  He said he was not surprised because he didn’t know anything about it himself, and he was supposed to have been there.  There’s where the matter stood until you mentioned it in your last letter.  You say John gave you “the full story from day one.”  He told me there was no story.  What can a decent, God-fearing person believe any more?I should like to offer a Remembrance of Benedict Canyon of my own that brought John to the brink of apoplectic rage.  The first time I visited J&J in the canyon, they mentioned that Barry Sullivan lived in the house next door or the one just beyond it, toward Wilshire Boulevard.  I asked if they ever saw him, but they never did.  Just more neighborhood glamor.  I happened to mention this to John in one of my letters, and he asked where I ever got such an idea.  I thought he was kidding, because he would play dumb about some things just to test my recollections, and then confirm what I mentioned.  On this Barry Sullivan thing he pulled a total blank.  After disputing the name a couple of times, he said that it couldn’t have been Sullivan because Cedric Hardwick lived there.  That was a name that had never been mentioned at all, at least to me.  So I dropped the issue because there was no way of confirming anything.  Sometime later I wondered if he had confused Barry Sullivan with Barry Fitzgerald, whose name had of course never been mentioned at any time, but neither had Hardwick’s.  The point of this Remembrance Of Benedict Canyon is that John’s memory could be selective.  He had to pass up some stage roles because he reached the point where he couldn’t memorize all the dialogue.

    (May I have the next slide please?)  Question: was the story that John said you gave him actually the story that he gave you?  Was this another Barry Sullivan-Type Muddle, with a reverse switcheroo? Will the American People ever learn the truth?

  7. DEAR DR. ANSWER: “If SoHo means ‘SOuth of HOuston,’ which I know is pronounced ‘house-ton’ in New Amsterdam, what does TriBeCa mean?  I think I read somewhere that the ‘Ca’ stands for Canal (Street), but the ‘Tri’ and ‘Be’ are not self-explanatory, unless they are the beginning letters of Tri(nity Church) and Be(ekman Place).  I am sick of being called a hick at Elaine’s every night by streetwise Gothamites!  Please help me!Signed,
    Tomato-wise But TriBe-Foolish
  8. HOUSTON (PRONOUNCED ‘HYEW-STUN’) DELICATESSEN: My stepdaughter took a bachelor’s in drama at the University of Houston (known locally as “U Hoo”) when my son-in-law was doing a neurosurgery residency at M.D. Anderson, so we have spent some time in Houston.  Also, my youngest stepson just completed a geophysics master’s at U of H.  Both steppies and Mary & I will be very pleased if we never set foot in Houston again.  It’s the weather.  Ghulam Bombaywala’s New York deli may be a big hit, but I wouldn’t wilt in Houston just for a pastrami.  “Bombaywala” is curious name.  As you remember from our days in The Lancers, a wallah is a person responsible for some duty (like pulling an overhead punkah).  The word is hindi, but Ghulam is from Pakistan, which is is Muslim.  This is clearly another unfathomable mystery of the East, which only you can solve by writing (in Sanskrit) to one of your powerful friends in Islamabad.I await, pastrami-less, his reply (and yours in English).  Furthermore, if the waiters are not insulting, you might as well go to a deli in Big Town.  Some customs don’t travel.
  9. You must have a scanner to incorporate that photo of your handsome home in Stamford with the text of your montage.  I don’t have one, so I am forced to make Xeroxes of photos and fit them into text by hand.  Thus, two daguerreotypes below:




Fred C. (“1 picture with 10,000 words, 2 worth 20,000 words”) Dobbs

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