Great Orators and the Lyceum: Robert G. Ingersoll

Excerpt from Great Orators and the Lyceum, by James B. Pond. From The Cosmopolitan magazine, Vol. XXI, No. 3, July 1896. The byline of the magazine at that time was “From every man according to his ability: to every one according to his need.”

This is the same magazine that is known as Cosmo, and features monthy “10 Ways To Make Your Man a Slave” type articles.

I just thought it was interesting to see something on Ingersoll, so I scanned and OCRed it.


Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll is without oubt one of the greatest popular orators now living. Ingersoll will never receive the full credit due to his great success as an orator during the present generation, as his vehement assaults on the Christian religion have aroused so many and such powerful enmities. But without regarding his creed, judging him solely by his power as an orator, no nation can to-day produce his equal. There is poetry, wit, humor, sarcasm, and tenderest bathos in nearly every lecture he delivers, whether on religion or politics. Colonel Ingersoll is not invited by the lyceums to lecture in their regular courses, as his infidelity arouses the opposition of all orthodox committees. But his fame is such that he does not need aid in procuring audiences. Whenever he wants to lecture, he sends out an agent, “hires a hall,” nd lectures at his own risk, and almost always, when in large cities, to his own great pecuniary benefit. In the smaller towns the church influence is always too much for him, and it does not pay him to lecture there.
While coming from New England one day with Mr. Beecher, I found Colonel Ingersoll in the same car. After a pleasant salutation between the two, the Colonel went to his seat. In his mischievous way, Mr. Beecher said “I have written that man’s epitaph.” He showed me, written on the margin of a newspaper, with his pencil, “Robert Burns.”

“I LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT SEX” By Corey Ford (from “Tales for Males”)

A short story from a book I scanned the table of contents from earlier. It was worth the trouble just so I could get the following excerpt online, but the introductory paragraph is a gem that I’m going to post on my quotes page:

“I was weak as a baby when I was born, and indeed it was several weeks at sea before I was able to hoist a sail as well as the rest of the crew.



By Corey Ford

“You see this here fish, June?” old Britches asked me one after­noon. “This here fish is called a sucker. It’s called sucker because it will swallow almost anything. There’s hundreds of thousands of these suckers, June, and most of them read travel books.”
I never forgot the lesson that he taught me.
My life at sea started at a very tender age. In fact my first im­pression upon opening my eyes on the world was of being dangled unceremoniously upside down by the heels, while the family doctor spanked me repeatedly with his open palm. It seemed to me even then that this spanking business was starting pretty early, and I objected in my childish treble.
“Hey, what the hell?” I piped.
“Rockaby, baby,” replied the doctor kindly, seizing my ankles and slamming me against the mattress until I was red in the face.
“Listen, no damned son of a — can get away with that!” I gasped, my father’s blood roaring in my veins. “Rockaby, baby, eh!” and wrenching loose a slat from the cradle I swung on him with all my strength. Two hours later I reported aboard the Ethel M. Dell with my duffle wrapped up in a triangular piece of white linen.
I was weak as a baby when I was born, and indeed it was several weeks at sea before I was able to hoist a sail as well as the rest of the crew. In the meantime my father turned me over to the care of old Britches. Britches was the sail-maker on our boat—that is, when the wind fell off and we were becalmed, it was old Britches that Father called on to make sail—and from the time he first took charge of me until he perished in the fatal fire that finally destroyed our boat, he devoted his life to my care. For fourteen years he taught me the mysteries of the sea; and although I abused him and pestered him and embarrassed him as only a child can, yet everything that I am today I owe to him. Poor old Britches!
I recall Britches as the only man who was older than Father. His life was just one more of those mysteries of the sea. Nobody knew where he came from—some said he was a descendant of Robert Britches, the poet—but when he and his brother came aboard to sign on the Ship’s Articles, he fiddled with the pen for a moment and then said : “Our father’s name was Britches, Skip­per, and if you don’t mind we’ll just sign on the same way.”
“Just a couple of sons of Britches,” answered Father, who knew a good joke when he saw one.
So the old sailor signed the Articles just “Britches,”1 and for fifteen years he went by no other name. In appearance he was un­like any other sailor I ever saw, an effect which was partially caused by the fact that he always wore a derby hat and carried a riding-crop. To discreet inquiries as to the purpose of these articles, he would only reply: “You never can tell when you might find a horse,” but it was generally believed that they referred to some romance of his buried past, and that in his youth he might have been thrown by a favorite mount. Whatever was his secret, Britches never told. He had a pleasant face surrounded by a fringe of red hair, and a wide comfortable lap, which did not disappear when he stood up, as most laps do, but merely ran around behind him and showed up under an assumed name. I spent many happy hours in that lap, learning some of the mysteries of the sea.
The first mystery which had to be solved was the question of feeding and clothing me during that initial trip. Fortunately the question of clothes was settled with promptness and dispatch. Britches had a pair of yellow oilskins and an old sou’ wester, which he had worn, man and boy, for fifty years and by which he set great store; but when the question of clothing me arose, he did not let any sentimental attachment deter him for a moment in his decision. Without hesitation the loyal old sailor grasped his scis­sors and with trembling fingers cut out the seat of a pair of father’s best pants. Soon I was clothed as shipshape and tidy as Britches and all the rest of the crew, except Father. For fourteen years old Britches was my guardian, nurse and severest critic, and no sacrifice was ever too great for his faithful old heart to make.
Although the question of clothing me was easily settled, the puzzle of how to feed me did not prove such an easy matter. Father’s friends had warned him that he was crazy to take a baby to sea; and their dire predictions seemed about to be borne out. Even old Britches was baffled. To be sure, he manufactured me a very handy milk-bottle out of an old gin bottle that Father had lying around in his bunk, half full; and he also designed a work­able nipple out of the first mate’s galoshes. But when it came to filling the bottle, his ingenuity gave out.
Three days out of Frisco the supply of milk which Father had put aboard for me was exhausted, and we were forced to turn back and get more. This supply in turn was exhausted three days out, and Father had to turn back once more. The third time he got as far as four days out, but inasmuch as it took him just that much longer to get back to Frisco again, it really didn’t help much. After this state of affairs had continued for a month or so, Father grew pretty discouraged. It began to look as though we would never get more than three days out of Frisco until I was weaned.
“We’ve got to do something pretty soon,” he said disconsolately to Britches. “We’re way behind schedule, and our milk bill is get­ting something fierce.”
“Can’t we get milk from the ship?” suggested Britches. “A ship is she,” he added philosophically.
Father shook his head.
“We could milk her rudder,” urged Britches.
“How do you know?”
“I heard a farmer say so once.”
“You misunderstood.”
There was a long silence.
“If we had some cream,” said Britches, “we could add some water, and make milk out of that.”
There was another long silence. When Britches opened his eyes again, Father had left.
The following morning I was crying with hunger, and in des­peration Father turned in at Norfolk Island to see if he could buy something for me to eat. He sent Britches in one direction down the island, and he went another, seeking to solve this feeding prob­lem. His search was in vain. The native women refused to accom­pany him back to the ship—after all, they said, if he was so darned anxious for them he could come ashore—and after combing the island all day Father returned that night discouraged and empty-handed. Britches met him at the gangplank with a broad smile on his round face.
“Cap’n, I settled the feed problem fer the kid!”
“Where is it?” shouted Father.
With a sly grin Britches laid his finger astride his nose, tip­toed aft to the fo’c’stle, and pointed proudly to his prize. Father peered through the shadows, and saw a terrified goat tied to one of the bunks, balancing dizzily on its legs and bleating feebly.
“Cap’n, I hada helluva time gettin’ it,” said Britches, “but I finally traded your compass, sextant, and chronometer for this here dairy.”
It was the best trade Britches ever made. Father was so grateful for the goat that he gave Britches the special privilege of cleaning up after it, as long as it stayed on the ship. The happy sailors named the goat “Sweetheart,” and it soon became the pet of the fo’c’stle.
Unfortunately I was not destined to have my bottle of milk that night, nor for many nights to come. The moment we put to sea “Sweetheart” became violently seasick, and meantime I grew hun­grier and hungrier. Father knew that seasickness, like a broken leg, was purely mental; but unfortunately neither the goat nor I fully appreciated this advice. For weeks it lay in its bunk in the fo’c’stle, moaning and groaning and hoping to itself that the boat would sink; and for weeks I lay in my bunk, starving to death. The crew tended the goat day and night, bringing it appetizing tidbits and magazines to read; but despite their efforts “Sweet‑heart” steadily refused to give milk. After a month had passed, Father’s suspicions began to be aroused. He decided to go aft to investigate.
That night he approached my bunk with a steaming platter of goat-meat.
“I’m afraid there’s no use waiting any longer for that milk,” he said sadly.
“Why not?” I demanded in surprise.
” ‘Sweetheart’ will never give milk, June, little girl.”
“What’s the big idea?”
By way of answer Father sat down quietly on the bunk beside me; and while I devoured my first square meal he opened his worn old Bible and turned its pages till he found a certain chapter in the Old Testament called the “Songs of Solomon.” And then in a gentle voice, while the ship creaked and the waves hissed under our bow, he read to me the explanation of the question that I had asked.
That was the first time I ever realized there was such a thing as Sex.

1 His brother left the ship immediately afterwards, having come aboard, in fact, just for the sake of the gag.

A product of New York by birth and education, he has not limited his range of living and writing. His latest book “War Below Zero,” co­authored with Bernt Balchen, tells the story of Greenland. He also wrote “Short Cut to Tokyo.” It is amazing that the same man can write such incredibly ridiculous themes as the one we selected here. Sometimes he uses the pen name of John Riddell.
Corey Ford is widely known for fiction and satire which he con­tributes to magazines, and for his books such as “The Gazelle’s Ears.” He can give you serious reading which makes you think, or the most delicious nonsense which makes you chuckle. The latter applies to “1 Learn Something About Sex.”

His wikipedia page is here:

BOOK NERD :: The Book of Forbidden Knowledge – free ebook on, + process notes

I uploaded my first contribution to today. A reader of my site from Germany asked if I had copies of “The Book of Forbidden Knowledge”, I assume after seeing it listed on the page with cover scans (actually photos) of various Johnson smith & Company booklets I have collected over the years.

I told her I’d scan my copy and send a PDF, but since I’d been finding so much incredible stuff on lately I decided to upload it there so that everyone could have a digital copy if they wanted.

I figured I’d roughly outline my process with a few images:

I scan ever page individually at 400dpi in 24bit color. I have scanned them 2-up before, but the time saved at the scanner is lost in separating the images of the two pages in editing. For ease I just flip the book upside down ever other page so that I lay it on the platen in the same spot every time:

This means that every other page is upside down, but not a problem. I set the scanning area to be a bit larger than needed, so that if I don’t place it exactly in the same spot, I don’t end up cutting off something I need.

Once I have the scans, I import them all into photoshop and use the cropping tool to get the bulk of the text block with a little extra. You can rotate the area you crop to help straighten it out. From there I just click Image>Image Rotation>180 and it’s right side up.

I save each page with the correct page number, the above being ForbiddenKnowledge-pg01.tif, and the covers will get a -C1 for front, -C2 inside front, -C3 inside back, -C4 back.

I then open one image and create a Photoshop Action that strips the yellow paper color from the page (Image>Adjustments>Replace Color) and then use the curves to give the page a crisp dark black and white (Image>Adjustments>Curves) and finally convert to Grayscale. I close that image without saving and then use the Batch command with the new Action to zip through the directory of interior page images.

After this is done, I put them all into an InDesign file and exported to a PDF without compressing the images. I uploaded that PDF to and it had automagically processed it before I was able to finish writing this blog, allowing me to put the following inline:

I started scanning this 36 page booklet at 11:20 this morning and posted the blog at about 1:20pm.

Raising the dead…

Background HERE. Post informed guesses as to years/location in comments below.



Coop thinks the Model T’s are from 1915-16 and 1917-18. I hadn’t realized they were even different cars.

Picture 2 of 28 – “This is a 1915 or 1916 Model T.”

Picture 3 of 28 – “This one is at least a ’17 or ’18 Model T, but I’m not schooled enough to spot the minor differences, and they were pretty similar year to year. The main difference from the earlier T in the other photo is the embossed grille shell, stamped fenders and the rounded hood.”

Scott Huffhines “digs up” the following:

Re: the graveyard shot. Definitely from Maryland since she was referenced in a 1944 Sun obit (which I didn’ want to pay for).
My guess the obit was for one of her children or relatives but not for her.

Rob Sherwood:

Number 3 has a license plate, which reads “OHO 256825 1920” I think. I’m researching that, assuming that OHO refers to “Ohio” and 1920 is a date.

Looking at “http://www.worldlicenceplates….“, the OHO is common in ohio but a 6 digit plate number is only listed on the 1921 license plate.

Christopher Mealie:

What a great find. Nice scans too. From clothing and autos they seem to be 1910s.

A reader named “Jack” that wasn’t able to post for some reason peels a sharp eye on the scenes:

I’m sorry to get this to you via email, but I was unable to post comments when I logged in. These are interesting. You may have already noticed these things, but…

I think the woman in photo 20 is the same woman years later in photo 23 who is sitting on the right. She has the same mouth and the same hairdo. Although the hairdo was probably common back then, the facial similarities seem convincing.

The dog in photo 23 appears to be the same one sitting next to the boy in photo 19. The boy in photo 19 looks like the toddler in photo 27.

The man sitting on the left with the woman’s arm around his shoulders is the same guy standing in the middle in photo 24. Judging by that dimple on his chin and his overall looks, he is also the same guy wearing the hat in photo 11. That could also be him on the horse in photos 13 and 15.

The same little boy appears in photos 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 12. There may be some more repeat subjects but I’m not sure.

The rustic wooden bench in photos 20 and 21 is interesting. That would be a cool heirloom to have, eh? This isn’t really important, but the bench seems to have moved when you compare it’s position relative to things near it on the ground such as twigs, holes in the dirt, etc. Based on the way the man and the woman are dressed in those two shots, I’m thinking they may have gone to church that day. If so, then the paper leaning up against the leg of the bench may be the program for that day’s service. I’m not enough of a historian to know if churches could afford to do that back then though.


Nerd Project No. 1920 :: Analog + Digital = <3 (scanning glass negatives)

It’s been a little while since I posted a project. The last one might have been my Accordion Box that I refurbished. Yesterday I found three boxes of 5×7″ and 4×6.5″ glass negatives at a local junk shop that I stop in at least once a week. The place mainly deals with estates, so you never know what’s going to come in the door.

Being, well, me… I looked quickly at a few of the slides, asked for a discount on all three boxes (they were marked $4 each, but they gave ’em all to me for $9) and then spent my Saturday morning scanning them and then doing a small amount of color correction in Adobe Lightroom, and now this afternoon putting them online.

The photos themselves will go into a post by themselves, but I did document the process a bit for here.

I WOULD like some assistance, if you’re inclined, in dating and locating these images. There are a ton of clues in the images for the keen observer. Please use the comments section to make suggestions (and give reasons).

Being the weirdo I am, I own a few bags of cotton gloves for occasions just like this. I also have a few other things laying around that I used in the process, as I’ll detail below.

Two of the negatives were broken, and many had deteriorated  or had some decay going on. I did my best to wipe off the dust and smudges on the glass side, and did a gentle wiping of the emulsion side. I suppose I could have looked online to see what should be done to clean these properly, but I didn’t. I did quite a bit though.

I tool some thick matteboard and cut a template out so that I could place the negatives in the scanner consistently.  I know I’ve got some plastic templates that they provided, but had no idea where a “cleaned them” to last time (to the spot I’m sure I thought I’d never forget).


There are three boxes, but the third wit the smaller negatives had no printing like these.

Here is one of the negatives on the scanner with the template. The template needs to be removed before the scan starts.

Just because, here’s the top of my scanner.

Holding up a negative, in case you’ve never seen such a thing.

Once the negatives were scanned, I took some packing sheets and cut them down to size to insert into the top and bottom.


Then I took some archival storage bags and put the boxes in them.

Now that I have everything scanned, I’d be willing to donate the negatives to either a museum, historical society, or the living family. One of the photos is a grave marker, so there’s a name to go on. If I can figure out a region, that’d narrow it down.

Oh, and the “1920” in the post title isn’t really a guess, but it sounds good.

LADIES OF THE MOB by Ernest Booth


by Ernest Booth

scanned from
The American Mercury, Volume XII, No. 48, December 1927
ONCE when I was very young I saw a newspaper picture of a lady. “Beautiful Accomplice”, it was captioned. My interest was aroused. In various books I had met beautiful heroines, but that was my first knowledge that a woman who associated herself with a thief could be—and authentically was—beautiful! Clipping the picture, I sought for a secure place to hide and preserve it. Opening the large dusty family Bible, I inserted it between two pages containing the Canticles! But my sudden and intense interest in Biblical lore provoked an investigation. The picture was discovered, I was told I had committed fifty-seven varieties of desecration, and, after being paddled, was consigned to punishment in a clothes-closet.
I carried the memory of that picture with me through all the years I was steal­ing for a living. An accomplice, beautiful, fascinating, and loyal ! For a decade it was the paramount desire of my life to find her. During my quest I met many ladies of the mob who actually seemed to possess some of her high qualities. Beauty—often! Fascination—until I knew them! Loyalty —Ah, yes! But there were others, alas, vastly different. They were the girls who made their livelihoods “off” thieves: never definitely entering into crime, but helping to spend a major portion of the money stolen. Their usual prey was the more egotistical sort of thief; with a skill rivaling Lorelei Lee’s they devoured him. Others stole from thieves. Yet others prac­ticed a polite form of blackmail: they would possess themselves of all possible information concerning the activities of a thief, and draw dividends from it in the form of clothes and jewelry. Theirs were not crude, open threats, but veiled insinua­tions. How often have I heard the com­plaint, “Sure, I’d like to ditch her—but what the hell can I do? She knows every­thing!
One girl that I recall was typical of this class. Not beautiful, she yet possessed a fascination which brought her the plunder of several thieves. One after another they were drawn to her, abode their destined hours, and then vanished into prisons, to live for years in memory of the time when Florence was their divinity. The daughter of a small Pacific Coast town, she had been adopted in infancy by a Baptist preacher. Some indefinable, inherent quality had enabled her to weather his imprecations, and she emerged with a personality all the finer for the heat of the flames that had tested it. Although I knew her when she lived with one thief or another, at different times, she ever preserved her separate entity. She was only with them—not of them.
Our acquaintance began when she was about twenty years old; we intuitively sensed sympathetic traits in each other. There was a brief period of antagonistic probing, and then a truce was agreed upon, and we respected it for ten years. Thus, after ceasing to be “possibilities— to each other, we became fast friends.
During a lull in the trial of her latest devotee, we were in her apartment one evening. Although she had by then passed the Rubicon beyond which women no longer count birthdays, she still preserved the air and appearance of unconquerable
youth. Reclining upon a sofa, her slender body relaxed in a careless and ingratiating attitude of repose, she was floating tiny wreaths of cigarette smoke to the ceiling. The impression she would have made upon fresh eyes was that of an ingenuous crea­ture who must be protected against the devastating assaults of reality. Her short, attractively-bobbed hair showed faint glints of red-gold. She released each word slowly, hesitantly, as though it were too fragile, too precious to send unprotected into the air.
“I hope,” she said, and her eyes avoided mine. “I hope Johnnie gets another dis­agreement from that jury. . . .” Her voice trailed off.
I glanced meaningly at the vanity-case atop a nearby stand. The key to a safe-deposit compartment lay concealed within that case. A fair portion of the unset gems from Johnnie’s last raid upon a jewelry store was cached in the vault.
“Yes,” she continued, “I hope he is freed.” Our eyes met, “Oh! but I’ve given over half of them to the attorneys. I can’t do more—what would happen to me if he goes to prison?”
After Johnnie was convicted, Florence introduced me to another chap who was guarding her from the cruel world. She assured me that she had done rightly by her own interests when Johnnie went to jail.
Another—Marie—was the antithesis of Florence. Action was the word emblazoned upon her face. Marie possessed vast ag­gressiveness. Her presence in a group—at an apartment, a “scatter,” or a roadhouse —set up a liveliness which even the var­nish-removing beverages could not rival. She was ambitious to engineer a bank raid. She spent several weeks “casing,” that is, becoming familiar with the habits and locations of the employes, the hours that money arrived, and so on. Then she at­tempted to enlist three experienced men to
rob the bank with her. We enjoyed Marie, she was so refreshing, and we respected her ability to keep her mouth closed, should she be arrested, but we laughed at her efforts to blossom out as a leader of bandits. Exasperated, she sought out some foppish drugstore cow-boys, drove them to the bank, and filled them with the no­tion that they could rob it. She almost had to shout to get them through the door­way. Then the force of her dynamic per­sonality died, and they bungled the affair disgustingly. Two of them were killed; the third, wounded, gained the machine. Marie pulled him across the side door, and held him there with one hand as she piloted the car through the traffic. She ministered to him, and borrowed money from us to pay the doctor. Later he recovered, and, visiting his old haunts, was arrested.
Marie reaped her reward for stepping out of her class by being brought to trial with him on the stand against her, as a State’s witness. It came near breaking the rest of the outfit, “squaring her” out of that “rap.” Now she is content to help her man count his money after he returns from “working.”
Another, Madge, was young, pretty, and of Iowa stock. She caught Red’s fancy when he and I arrived in Los Angeles after a forced trip from Denver. She was a waitress, and covered a dearth of brains with a recently-acquired line of snappy chatter and a white uniform pleasantly charm-revealing.
Red’s regular lady, the volatile Vera, was spending a month at Hot Springs. In the role of a wealthy oil-land owner, he soon convinced Madge that as a profes­sion, “dealing ’em off the arm” was not so much. Two weeks later, when I called at their bungalow, she naïvely informed me that they were married. I extended hearty congratulations.
Red was rough, abrupt, and reputed to be vicious. That reputation was merited
when he was “working.” Madge, believ­ing implicitly his tale of oily wealth, never questioned the truth of his explana­tions for his absences. I think it was that blind, trustful belief in him which divested Red of his usual hard exterior.
“My God! I’m hooked for that little broad,” he confided to me one day. “But what the hell am I going to do when Vera shows up? She’s due any day next week.”
“Can’t you give Madge carfare back to Iowa?”
“Sure,” and Red offered a curiously sheepish grin. “Sure I could, but I don’t want to. I’m telling you she’s the kind of broad every thief ought to have. She likes to cook, and she’s crazy about that flop of ours—even had a guy come out and make pictures of it, garden, car, everything. Wanted to send ’em to her folks. Say! I’m going to root for some real big dough—marry her—and get off this racket!”
“Steady! steady!” I cautioned. “You’ve been drunk before—and got sober.” I had visions of an efficient partner gone to seed.
Madge was crying next afternoon when she admitted me. She was crying as a child cries—from its heart.
“S-s-some policeman took Reddy away.”
Snatching up a coat, I wrapped it about her, and quickly bundled her into the car. Red’s arrest might be only a routine one, and it might be—any one of several un­pleasantly definite things. There was no time for consolation when policemen were about.
She accompanied me without question as we drove to a beach town. She sobbed less frequently as the rush of air struck her face. Gone was all her snappy chatter: she was an eighteen-year-old baby knowing great grief for the first time.
Salvation Nell Murray’s home was a four-roomed apartment on the second floor of a building she owned. She had be­friended thieves and their girls for a score of years. Her place was an exchange for news and messages. A large, overripe woman, with a sparkle in her eye and a rough and ready humor, she had simpli‑
fled the problems of life into eating, drink­ing and loving.
“This is Madge,” I told her. “Her hus­band has had some difficulty. You know how these officers are.” Nell nodded. “I don’t want to see Madge arrested. Can she stay with you for a few days?”
Nell opened her arms to the girl and en­folded her to an ample breast. I watched the scene with pleasure, for in her move­ment was the gesture of one who welcomes with the soul. It was like the embrace of some great divinity. She could welcome and embrace Madge in particular, and yet seem to include scores of others at the same time.
Vera read of Red’s arrest, and the news of his “wife.” She rushed to Los Angeles, visited him at the jail, and then, unable to get a satisfactory explanation, she sought me. Of course I knew of no girl in connection with Red! Vera was uncon­vinced. Information she held, if revealed to the police, would have resulted in send­ing Red to prison for a longer time than he could hope to live. She never once inti­mated that she contemplated such a course —she knew of other girls’ “suicides,” and so I did not believe she entertained the idea.
But Red was held for investigation. The police, aware of his prison record, believed that he had been at work in the State, and continued to show him up to bank em­ployes, messengers, and payroll carriers in the hope that one would recognize him. Before I could return to tell Madge that she had best remain quietly with Nell, she had returned to the bungalow, and there Vera met her.
The indignant Vera disillusioned her quickly concerning Red. The discussion brought on a fight, and Vera lost. She rushed to Nell’s to get a gun. There I en­countered her. Madge was packing when we returned. A newspaper, folded open at the want-ad column, lay atop her ward­robe trunk.
“I don’t care,” she said with some re­turn of her former bantering attitude. “Redheads was always fickle.”
There comes now the memory of Dale’s girl, Yvonne. She was French and she had come to this country as the wife of a patriot who had fought to make the world safe for democracy. Shortly afterward, he relinquished the charms of Yvonne for the more substantial ones of a Kansas corn-fed.
Though unable to speak American as it is gargled in a Kansas City dance-hall, Yvonne was yet able to get a job as a hostess. I danced with her one night, waiting to meet Dale. When he came in they danced. After that she danced no more with me, or anyone else—except Dale. From that moment there ceased to be a Dale or an Yvonne; they were insepa­rable and almost indivisible.
An attractive pair. Wrapped in their peculiar interests, they would be absent from the city for days, and offer no excuse to anyone when they returned. Dale was teaching her English, and acquiring some French for himself. Their jumbled conver­sations, particularly during dinner at some restaurant with the rest of us, were filled with a happy carelessness. Yvonne laughed often, but she had eyes for none but Dale. So evident was her devotion that when he suggested bringing her with us when we “went went against” a large down-town bank there was but a momentary dissension. She could already handle a shotgun or a pistol with a skill bespeaking volumes for his training.
I was the last man out of the bank. The others were in the car. Yvonne, behind the wheel, snatched us away from the curb with a rush almost breath-taking. I caught a glimpse of her eyes in the rear-view-mirror, and they were dark and intent. There was nothing of fear or terror in them. Rather they held calm determina­tion and cold resolve. The infrequent seconds during which she was not busy with the car were used to snatch melting glances at Dale by her side.
That night the house was surrounded by police and sheriffs. We had remained too long in one neighborhood. The officer on the beat had developed certain sus­picions, and having unusual intelligence for a cop, had kept his ideas to himself in­stead of coming to the house to make in­quiries. Finally, calling in help, he sent a street urchin to the door with a note telling us we were under arrest. Their message named several thieves whom the cops believed were with us in the house. Anticipating a battle, they had warned us with the note, and when we did not reply they opened fire. Yvonne displayed the same countenance she had worn during the afternoon’s drive.
“This is it—of which you told me?” she whispered to Dale as he and I stood irresolute.
“Yes,” he replied. “It’s a case of sell out—we can’t surrender.”
“Sell out?” Yvonne wrinkled her brow. “How is that?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” Dale jerked out. Already the police had fired a few shots into the house.
“I do!” she exclaimed, quickly taking a place behind a trunk, and preparing to reload guns for us.
“I can send you out. They won’t shoot a girl—I don’t believe they will shoot a girl,’ he amended.
“Give her a white handkerchief to wave and let her go before they start pouring slugs into the house,” I suggested.
“White kerchief—wave—out?” She looked quickly from Dale to me, her eyes wide and accusing. ‘Leave you ?’9
“Better if you stay you’ll get killed and—”
“No!” She stood erect, and swept past me as though I had ceased to exist. “Mon chérie! My little cabbage!” and a lot more. Dale gathered her to him. The pose might have been directed by a movie director, but it was really instinctive, unaffected. Faced with the fear of separation, they clung tenaciously to each other. I had the impression of two people trying to fore­stall the inevitable by the strength of their arms.
But it was not a moment for drawing fanciful conjectures. We needed an “out” and needed it immediately. The firing was desultory—only the pistols and rifles had been used. The machine guns and tear-gas bombs were held in reserve. Leaving Dale and Yvonne for a moment, I scanned the shrubs alongside the house. Auto­mobile lights and a couple of searchlights were being employed to illuminate the premises, but there was a dark strip where two lights failed to overlap. Returning to the kids, I brought them to the window and showed them the only possible chance of escape. In a few minutes it would be covered. But at the moment the siege had not been thoroughly organized.
Yvonne wore a light dress, and Dale forced her into a drab duster. He contented himself with turning up his coat-collar to conceal the white of his shirt. Swiftly he dropped to the grass. I lowered Yvonne. They crouched and scampered through the shrubbery. I saw them emerge at the farth­est end. A man accosted them. In the bright light there I discerned them, with­out coats or hats : they had discarded them to attempt a desperate ruse. They clung to each other as though frightened. Yvonne was speaking to the man, who, incident­ally, held a rifle in one hand. I crawled up on the grass close enough to hear the con­versation. She pleaded that they be al­lowed to go home. They had been for a walk, she said, and they lived but a few blocks further. The officer accepted their explanation, because he could not reconcile the two apparently scared youngsters with the bad men he had been sent to apprehend. He ordered that the lights be thrown on the garden. In the confusion of the adjust­ment I gained the sidewalk and a moment later mingled with the crowd.
Yvonne and Dale left the city that night. The house was riddled, two officers were killed in the cross-fire, and when it was found empty about noon the next day, the police were baffled to explain the escape of six bandits! But from the laundry marks on napkins in the house, the police estab lished past residence and soon had our pictures identified. Yvonne was linked to Dale by some of the loose-mouthed gentry of the dance-hall. Her picture was un­earthed in some manner, and with its pub­lication, Dale and Yvonne were unable to remain in the State. They headed toward the Pacific Coast. At Colorado Springs they were stopped for questioning. An officer attempted to arrest them. Yvonne shot him through the head.
Westward they drove until they reached. Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles—Tris­tram and Isolde seeking a haven of safety for their love. Faced with the ocean, they drove back a few miles and rented a fur­nished home. From there they seldom ventured. Dale had a great sum of money from the Kansas City robbery, and there was no reason for further stealing just then.
There were frequent rumors that they were in Southern California, but the police could get no definite report. Eager to re­join some of the outfit, Dale risked a visit to Salvation Nell’s. He had no other means of establishing communication, and he wanted someone to go with him on a reck­less robbery that would result in making him independently rich, and enable him to return to France with Yvonne. This much he told Nell before a chance visit from a detective forced him to leave. In the ex­change of shots Dale was struck in the arm. With his identity established, and his presence positively located in that part of the State, the police posted bills like circus plasters for his arrest. It was impossible for him to undertake a lengthy drive in his condition, but Yvonne insisted that she could hold the wheel for the five hun­dred miles necessary to bring them into San Francisco. First they alternated in making trips from the house to different gasoline stations. At each they would fill the car tank and a five-gallon can with gasoline. With thirty gallons in reserve they could make the dash without stop­ping. They were set to go one evening about dark, and in an expensive, closed car they drove to the outskirts of Glendale. Stopping long enough to fill the tank again was a fatal mistake.
Dale had been at that station two days before. The clerk had recognized him and reported to the police. Four detectives were waiting, concealed in the shadows. Into the light Dale drove. While he was instructing the attendant an officer stepped into view, and, leveling a gun at him, he called for surrender. Dale leaped from the car and shot the man. Another opened fire from one side. Yvonne shot at him as he pumped the contents of an automatic into Dale. In the light, Dale whirled about, fired at the officer, and then collapsed. Yvonne lifted a rifle and fired at the third officer again. The fourth raised a shotgun and blasted away half her head.
Mae had married Art within a week after he had got seventeen thousand dollars for his end of a robbery. She was past forty, and had served several terms in the county jails, yet she had preserved some of the charm that gave Ninon de Lenclos the power to attract homage until the day of her death. Mae had a passion for marrying young thieves. Art was aware that she had not been divorced from the others, who were all in prison; one of them he knew. But when she insisted that he observe the legal rituals before being granted her debatable favors, he acquiesced.
Mae had a code, and followed it. She handled Art as a veteran trainer handles a fighter. She instructed him in what parts of town to avoid. She labeled for him the questionable characters among the thieves in her extensive acquaintance. And when he was arrested she used her peculiar knowledge to get him a disagreement in the first two juries. At the third trial she bribed the bailiff and secured an acquittal. Together they _knew a few hysterically happy weeks. Art swore that she was the finest and most loyal of all women. What was a. difference of twenty years in age?
When he was again arrested following a robbery in a different part of the State, Mae arranged a quick straw-bond for him. The investigation that followed his failure to appear for trial caused the State to be­come too small to contain him. So he went into an adjoining State and “worked” with a group on a night raid. He was arrested on a chance recognition, and Mae arranged a fight against extradition for him. When that seemed likely to fail, she climbed to the top of the jail, sawed several bars from a skylight and lowered hacksaws into the corridor. After Art had sawed his way out of his cell, she lowered a rope and he climbed safely up beside her.
When they had escaped to another part of the country, Mae drove a car while Art held up and secured from two employes a large payroll. When he was subsequently arrested for that robbery, and Mae was held as a suspect-accomplice, Art confessed and exonerated her.
“No, I never visit Art,” she told me. “It would be cruel. I can’t help him now. But you can’t hold that against me—I stuck to him as long—and did as much for him—as anyone could.”
She had a code—and she followed it.
But to return to Vera—Red’s girl—Vera the curious mixture.
We were casing a large bank, and needed a house to work from. Red was well known to the police of that city, so the prelim­inary work devolved upon me. Certain ex­periences of the past had instilled in me a distrust of women as partners. If I could get a girl like Vera fine! But I preferred at that time to have only the passing con­tacts with women that I had known before serving my first prison term. Vera was against this.
“What you need,” she said, “is a square girl. I think I know one for you. You don’t have to get married. Not right at first—but you will after a while. It’s the only right way to live. I’ve been a thousand times happier since Red and I were married.”
We were seated about the dinner table, and she leaned over to touch Red’s freckled. hand. He grinned. I mused on the incon­gruity of her logic. Happier since they had yielded to a legal requirement? Happier in his profession of robber because he had stood before a justice of the peace and mumbled a formula? .. .
Vera was against Red’s continued steal­ing. She wanted him to make enough money in one raid to buy an apartment-house and then live within the law. She had found the germ of that idea, perhaps, in her belated observance of the marriage vows. Red was not exactly against the idea, but he had a great many friends who were constantly needing help. Frequently he had to pay attorney’s fees for thieves who had been caught broke. Once he had posted fifteen thousand dollars for an appeal bond. When the case was decided adversely by the Appellate Court he urged the chap to run away, and forfeited the bond with a smile. But Vera became in­sistent that his constant risks were too great. He treated her pleas lightly, and it was that fact which first gave her the idea that she was not completely understood by her husband.
Thus Vera grew in the belief that Red did not appreciate her. She nagged him constantly. She wanted him to quit, and leave the city with her. Her intuition told her there was something wrong. . . . I was in the house often in the days that fol­lowed. Vera threatened to kill herself if Red did not leave with her. He offered to send her halfway across the continent to visit some friends while he and I com­pleted our business. But she insisted that she would remain rather than go away and be prey to her imagination. She wanted to know precisely what chances he was taking. She had to have something to worry about—and Red supplied it.
She and I were waiting for Red. It was about eight o’clock and he had not yet come home for dinner. She became as nearly hysterical as a woman can go with­out screaming. She pulled at a pillow on the lounge until she tore it to shreds. Then, in odd contrast to her appearance, she spoke quietly. “He just has to come before another hour or I’ll go crazy—I can’t stand this!” There was nothing dramatic in her voice. She made the statement so calmly and judiciously that the words seemed to send a chill about the room. There was an ominous note of finality in them. She had mounted to the heights of anxiety and there concluded that she must have relief from the constant strain. Though she had stolen often herself, and taken her chances many times with Red, she yet retained some saving quality which would not allow her to enter completely into the life. Whether the marriage cere­mony had released that quality, I can only guess; but I know that after it she more than ever desired to have her man with her—that she was made frantic by the fear of receiving a ‘phone call from an attorney, to tell her that Red was in jail. I thought her rather selfish at that moment. As I saw it, Red was taking chances for her daily. He was risking long years in prison to gain for her the home she had so often pictured to him.
Again she grew restless. Her calm de­termination now deserted her. She plucked the shredded pillow case with increasing nervousness. As her eyes encountered mine I saw they were wide, and she blinked rapidly. Ever acutely conscious of others’ moods, I tried to calm her, despite the fact that I was fighting a battle to retain my own composure. I succeeded only in add­ing fuel to the flame rising within her.
“It’s not worth it!” she exclaimed. -All the money in the world isn’t worth this worry.
“It’ll be all right,” I offered. “He’ll be home soon. Probably he’s only busy, and—”
“Oh! you don’t understand!” She stood erect and crossed to the window. “It isn’t only now—it’s always! Can you imagine what it means to have the one you love
better than life constantly away from your side?” I thought I could, and again I assured her that he would come soon.
“Yes,” she said with an odd catch of her breath, “yes, I believe he will. But in the morning he’ll be gone again—for the whole day, maybe half the night. And then this awful worry! When he’s here, everything is all right—but when I’m alone—oh, I can’t explain it ! Please, please! Make him stop! won’t you, please? Ask him to stop and let’s all go away! You don’t know how much it would mean to me, away from here. Please make him stop, won’t you?”
She was rapidly losing every vestige of control.
“Of course I will,” I assured her. “There’s no reason why you and he can’t take a train out tonight. I’ll talk with him, Vera—but sit down and don’t be worrying so. It’ll be all right.”
“If it only would be all right.” She returned to the lounge, and grabbing the torn pillow she shook it as though to re­lieve her excitement in physical exertion. “I’ve heard that so often: ‘It’ll be all right.’ It’s a thieves’ phrase that gets on my nerves. I can’t stand it! I can’t stand this—I’ve got to do something!” At the ringing of the telephone she uttered a sharp cry. “Oh, what has happened? I know that’s him.”
Racing into another room I answered the call. It was Red. He told me to take a certain suitcase containing a new Thomp­son automatic from the closet, and put it in a “plant” in the cellar. He believed that he was being followed and had decided not to chance a raid if he could not shake off ”the tail.”
Hastily I hid the suitcase.
Returning to the room, I told Vera that Red was all right. I found her lying with her face buried in a pillow, her toes beat­ing a tattoo on the end of the lounge. Her body quivered as though in the toils of some tremendous convulsion. I touched her shoulder and she turned a face so dis­torted with weeping that I was startled.
“I can’t s-s-stand this any longer,” she sobbed. “You don’t know! Oh, he doesn’t love me or he wouldn’t treat me this way!”
Again she pounded the pillow. I tried to reason with her. She repulsed me. “Oh, leave me alo-o-one—” and she was hys­terical again.
She had extinguished the light in the room. A shaft from the adjacent hallway cut sharply into the darkness and illumi­nated her form. I stood so that the glare of it would not strike her eyes as she twisted and wiggled about. An anguish so deep, so profound, seemed to possess her that she ceased to be herself. She became the symbol of all thieves’ girls—of all the women who have lived, loved, and worried with thieves. Always theirs has been the role of sustaining a silent grief transcending in its horrors the most ignominious horror ever suffered by the martyrs.
A Eurydice in Hell, awaiting the music of her Orpheus. Yes—a thousand Eury­dices! And in a Hell such as Dante never imagined.
Her frantic struggling mounted until it approached the point where it must break —either in great comedy or great tragedy. I was holding her in a futile attempt to in­duce a return of sanity. Then Red entered. He had opened the door so quietly that I was unaware of his presence until his form shut out a portion of the hall light.
“What the hell’s the matter?” He ap­proached and I caught the odor of whiskey.
“She’s worried,” I explained. “She wants you to quit the racket and—”
Vera sat erect. Red dropped down be­side her. They faced the light. Her lips were distorted and her hair hung before her eyes. Encircling her with one arm, Red brushed back the locks from her forehead.
“What’s it you want?” he asked, thickly.
“O-o-o-o!” She tried to free herself from him. Together they stood up. Red’s eyes were hostile, uncomprehending.
Disengaging herself she faced him. “I can’t stand this! I can’t stand this !  I can’t stand this! You’ve got to quit now—or—” she strove desperately for some control of her mounting voice and failed—”or I’ll kill myself!”
“Say!” Red spoke sharply. “Cut that out! What do you think this is? Think I’m going to duck because you have a fit?”
“Don’t! don’t!” She shrank from him as though he had struck her. “Don’t talk like that, Red. You don’t love me—oh! I’m better dead!”
“Aw, Vera—you know I can’t quit now. C’m on—be a regular fellow. Have a drink and you’ll feel better.” Red was less angry then, but his irritation was evident. He bent over her and attempted to kiss her. She interposed her hand so suddenly it seemed like a slap on his face.
“Oh, I’m better dead! I can’t go on!” She almost shouted it.
Stung by the unexpected slap, Red jerked himself from her “Stop talking like that! Stop saying you’re better dead. What in the name of God is the matter with you? Ain’t I giving you all I can?”
“Ple-e-ease promise me you’ll stop stealing.”
“Sure—when there ain’t anything more to steal,” Red snorted.
“Oh-h-h, if I had a gun I’d kill myself!”
Angrily, Red snatched a revolver from his pocket, and held it before her.
“Here’s a rod. Blow your brains out if you want to—or else shut up and have a drink.”
With a movement so quick I could scarce believe it had occurred, she caught the revolver from his hand, put the muzzle into her mouth and pulled the trigger. Glass from a shattered picture on the wall behind her tinkled on to the floor as she collapsed on the lounge.

MY FAVORITE PICTURE by William Mortensen

Scanned from Popular Photography, December, 1939.

MY FAVORITE PICTURE by William Mortensen

This brilliant photographer, famed for his spectacular and dramatic effects, selects as his favorite work a picture that achieves effectiveness and charm through simplicity.
THIS, I think, is my favorite picture. Although I made it a good many years ago, my pleasure in it has not grown less, but rather in­creased. Many more spectacular “masterpieces” that excited me tre­mendously at the time have long since found their way into the ash can.
It lasts so well, I believe, because it expresses a universal idea with­out straining after symbolism—the close relationship of the eternal feminine and the fertile earth. One reason that it turned out so satis­factorily was the particular joy that went into its making. There was no especially laborious preparation: “Today we shall make a picture to be called ‘Woman of Languedoc.’ “
Instead we just took a few bits of costumes and went out to get some pictures. Everything was just right. The day pleased me, the light pleased me, the model pleased me very much. I was even pleased with myself. And, finally, the pic­ture pleased me. She looked rather like a French peasant, so we called her “Woman of Languedoc.”
Nietzsche said: “What is good is easy; everything divine runs with light feet.” Lots of hard work may go into a picture, yet it must come off easily. That which is consum­mated in dull drudgery cannot help but be dull.
“Woman of Languedoc” is a miniature shot, made with a Model F Leica camera. It was taken out­doors when the sunlight was con­siderably softened by an overcast sky. The print was made by the bromoil transfer process.