HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

May 16, 1990

Hey, they’re, Udo!–

Sorry to hear about your awful red-eye return flight. We were asking ourselves how you got from New York to Stamford. Flight to Albany, then drive your own car to Stamford (after having left it in the long-term parking lot)? Flight to somewhere else upstate, then hitchhike?

Anyhow, you arrived safe if not fully sound.

ACCIDENT: The details you provided have cleared up my ‘confusion a little. I never knew you had been at Rocky Flats, for one thing.

I didn’t know Allan Kline, just his name. I still think that NY Times Sunday Magazine article was sensationalism. I didn’t think the Times printed that kind of Now-It-Can-Be-Told! bushwa. We have now lived long enough that the 20—20 Hindsight Analysts have overtaken us, and they need thicker glasses.

FROM GUTTER TO HAPPINESS: Very pleased that you feel the same about Mary as I have felt for 24 years (next June). I tell her that the best thing she ever did was take me out of the gutter and straighten me out.

She insists that I was not in the gutter. “You were on the curb. That’s not the same.”

The way it happened was, I was panhandling on Flatbush Avenue, and along comes this beauty who was obviously also rich and intelligent.

“Could ye spare a shillin’, ma’am, fer me t’ have a pint with the lads down at Paddy Grogan’s?”

“Cut out that phony Irish accent, Willie Coster! Get up off that curbstone! What kind of a way is that for somebody to behave who invented the automatic bomb and saved the world?”

“Say … you sound like Mary Powell from Osterhout’s Springside Farm! What are you doing on Flatbush Avenue?”

“I live near here, you dummy! Furthermore, you ran off from Osterhout’s to some crazy place out West. And you need a haircut and your fingernails are dirty. Where’s your necktie?”

“Well, now, Mary, inventors who save the world don’t worry about appearances. We just do great things, you might say.”

That’s all behind you! Go out to California and get a job building flying machines, and I’ll be along with the kids in a week or so. Get moving. Oh, I can’t wait to tell the Osterhouts about this!”

That’s how it happened, Udo. When I applied at Northrop they told me that she had written a letter that they were to hire me in spite of how I looked. They didn’t want to, but they were afraid not to. After that I invented the B-2 Bomber.

Then one day I said, “You know, I invented the automatic bomb and the B-2. That’s twice I saved the world. I’d like to retire and let somebody else save the world.”

“What would you do with yourself?”

“Write to Udo.”

“That sounds all right. Just don’t get under foot around here.”

Any other versions of these events that you might have heard are untrue.

May I have the next slide, please?

ANNE & THE COUNCIL: It’s clearly time they were shaken out of their complacency. Class “A” uniforms at all meetings. Open with reveille and close with taps. No bribe-taking while in session. Local merchants may not offer special discounts to council members unless approved by a 2/3 majority. Gavels must be tightened, following the episode in which a loose gavel head flew out the window and struck one of the whittlers on his knife hand, eliminating him from the Annual Whittle-Off at Delhi. (He sued, but the incident was classified as an Act of God.) And the laundry of council members may no longer be washed free at Sullivan’s Laundromat, in return for allowing the laundromat to discharge its wash-water into Main Street, which was giving Main Street a blotchy bleached appearance that made it look like WW II camouflage.

It’s time for Stamford to enter the 20th Century!

Keep us posted.

SANTA BARBARA MUSEUM OF ART: We went to Santa Barbara to visit Mary’s sister, who is in a nursing home there (which I think we told you), and went to the Museum of Art to see Yeffe’s paintings. The first problem was that they were having a traveling exhibition of French Empire paintings, which displaced everything else in the building. The second problem was that they have about 18,000 paintings, but can hang only about 1000 at a time. Apparently they rotate the inventory according to “themes,” and Yeffe would be displayed when the theme is American Painters or Native American Painters. This is not reassuring, because we do not visit Santa Barbara that often. But we’ll keep trying.

BEE OMBUDSMAN: It was a great relief to return to Sacramento and the journalism of the Bee, after reading nothing but the New York Times and The Los Angeles Times and some other third~rate papers while we were away. The enclosed ombudsman’s column is an example of the Bee’s fearless, self-searching discipline, which has made it such an outstanding paper. How many papers can make that claim? Would The Stamford Science-Monitor lay bare its soul in this gutsy manner?

FOR MOTHER’S DAY we went out to Travis AFB in Fairfield, about 45 minutes from here, and Lt Col stepson and daughter-in-law took us to brunch at the Officers’ Club. Just before dessert I went up to the small stage and asked for a moment of silence. They apparently thought I intended to make a speech about mothers, but I pulled no punches. “I used to be an enlisted man,” I shouted fearlessly, “and if you think you’re better than I am, step right up! All your brass doesn’t impress me one bit!” Nobody stepped right up. After I went back to the table, the waitress didn’t pour me any more champagne, but I guess I told them, all right! It’s about time somebody did.

Thanks very much for the Claremont photos. We will put then in our Album of Memories, and look forward to adding many more from future get-togethers.

Will now close on that high note.Regards to all, and keep Stamford safe from enemy invaders.

Fred C. (“Dry Pen”) Dobbs

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