This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Opens with talk by Chet Huntley, NBC news anchorman and author of "The Generous Years: Remembrances of a Frontier Boyhood." He speaks about his boyhood in Montana. He delights the audience with a few funny stories.
Next, Marc Connelly, playwright of "The Green Pastures" and author of his memoirs, "Voices Offstage" speaks. He sings the club hymn of the Butterworth Club, and tells a humorous story about the athletic club.
Finally, Supreme Court Associate Justice Abe Fortas. He speaks about his work on the Supreme Court. He mentions the demonstrations of Martin Luther King, as well as others who have defied the law in order to support a moral right. He discusses the history of democratic descent. Several reference to the presidential election that took place the following day.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 72185
Municipal archives id: T4853
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
The ambassadors made. The So just like the dissenters demonstrate the astronauts all bit the beauty clean weeps with joy the politicians point with pride or do the other thing and it is the profession of television newsman to report on those kinds of things of this kind of history what has just happened what is happening. What is likely to happen it's a demanding and responsible job that no one fulfills those demands more intensively Oh it carries them out with a greater sense of responsibility than I first begin today but Chet Huntley has found the time. I don't know how. To examine another kind of history the history of his own growing up on the prairie days and in the towns of Montana in the second and third decades of the century it is personal history but then the real history of the land lives in human beings rather than in headlines and in writing of his family his neighbors the scenes and events of his boyhood and you. Just have to be as also writing of the way a part of this American looked and lived and of the forces of change that made it certain that nothing would ever quite be the same again ladies and gentlemen here is the unusual state of being on pot nut and on the high from the Chet Huntley an the Mr Chairman thank you for just as far as this thing which gas ladies and gentlemen I have authored a very modest little book with something less than a shattering or profound conclusion and it and it has just occurred to me that in view of what Mr Justice Fortis has written. And in view of what Mark Connelly has written and if Mr Justice Fortis here this afternoon is good for twenty minutes and Mark Connelly is good for fifteen I am reduced to about one minute and thirty seconds. I making several notes here to Pony me through this response I recall the story of two undergraduates at Oxford University who it seems by some process or another simply losed and despised each other and they spent most of their undergraduate years in Carling and bickering and insulting each other and wouldn't you know it after graduation they found themselves living next door to each other in London and the process was renewed and they insulted each other on the street vendor over the back wall but ultimately fate and circumstances intervened and left them in their separate directions and one ultimately became an admiral in Her Majesty's fleet and the other one became an arch bishop of the church and one day the archbishop dressed in Havoc was waiting on a station platform outside the city park trying to take him into town he glanced up the platform and there without a doubt it was his old disguise nemesis the admiral in full uniform and the archbishop could not put aside the temptation so he walked up and he said station master what time is the next train for London. And the admiral started and surveyed his man and said I haven't the foggiest notion madam but in your condition I don't think you should travel on but. In speaking about my book I also recall what Senator William McAdoo once said about President Warren G. Harding said the Senator his speeches leave the impression of an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea sometimes these meandering words would actually capture a struggling fought and barrack triumphantly a prisoner in their midst until it died of servitude and overwork. As I recall in my book I made a reference to the harmony which prevailed between Canadians and Americans along the Montana scotcher one frontage here I must go back up there one day to see if the country road still wandered back and forth across that border at will and without checkpoints or customs installations. But one incident about that Frontiere is not in the book my father I recall once volunteered to go out on a two day exposition to expedition to take school census and he consented to take me along we saddled up two horses and spent the day knocking on ranch house doors and inquiring how many children lived there and what their ages names were we stayed overnight and I hayloft know blighting rancher and ate a fair table and went on and collected school census for another day and finally made our way home but about three weeks later my father received a notification from the proper authorities that he had done an excellent job of taking school census in Canada. I want to tell you about my ID card my credit card and the world the political it was during the war and I came back from an expedition with the fleet back to Los Angeles and on the way back in that bouncy destroyer the only reading material I could get my hands on was a book about the drama by Stella Adler and I read it and what it was doing on that destroyer I shall never know but I came back to Los Angeles in the midst of the biggest war bond campaign that. Was to be put on during the course of the entire war admirals and generals were there the secretary of the Treasury was to be there government officials every movie star I suspect Mark Conley was there but we all gathered down in Pershing Square every radio station in town was latched up in one vast network for this event and I was given the unlikely task of taking a travelling microphone through the stands to interview the V.I.P.'s in the audience and I had a scout with me to pick out the V.I.P.'s so I was wandering through this crowd had interviewed a couple of people and. My assistant talked of my sleeve and said there is Mr Adler So I rushed up to her and I said Miss ADLER I want to tell you how much I have enjoyed your work that I had the wrong Miss Adler it was Polly out it was. And of course she seized upon it and wouldn't let me go and it was destroyed maybe the result was that I was dispatched back to the Pacific the next week. Seriously the main thrust if I may call it that of my book is to demonstrate the changes which have occurred you know our country in a time lapse of about fifty years perhaps the change from the front chair to the thirty Rockefeller Plaza and from communications by Morse code to television is somewhat more dramatic than most have experienced yet I hope it will occur to the reader that Brooklyn and Washington Philadelphia and Los Angeles are Seiko Montana and River City Iowa I have changed too and perhaps just as much and all of these communities and in many ways all of us are likely to change yet more so in the future let me cite just one statistic at the beginning of this book The time is about nine hundred twelve and I have discovered that in one thousand twelve by any standard of measurement seventy percent of the people of this country were considered to be poor today fifteen percent of our population we reckon is poor Apparently we have in spite of everything made some progress at least in one area of course we have accumulated some other problems along the way. I must say that I am pleased with the response I am getting from youngsters I was prepared to be written off by youngsters as an incurable square and I think one of the critics did come quite close to that. But the youngsters the students for whatever reason are not calling me that rather they seem to reveal rather profound interest in the homely verjuice of threat honesty and self-reliance and family cohesiveness and an exchange of correspondence with one freshman student at Vassar has thus far heard it was her rather fascinating analysis that our young people today are deeply concerned about a contradiction about contradictions in our society on the one hand she says they are fully aware that they and we have never had it so good but on the other hand they are aware of the deep faults in our society racism violence the endless formation of power blocs the remaining fifteen percent poverty and they are preparing she says in a fumbling and inarticulate way for the cataclysmic destruction of the good life and the affluence therefore they have decided that it might be wise to drop out of this good life for a while just to get acquainted with the kind of society that might develop when the apocalypse occurred the theory may be highly inaccurate but nevertheless I find it fascinating the book has brought about another brief exchange with an artist who called my attention to something which had never occurred to me he observed that only writers and poets especially can deal with mountains prairie horizons the dark conifer forests and the UN bounded sky he says that no painter in his right mind would ever take on a mountain that it's just too much he observed that Maxfield Parrish I'd tried it without much success it's interesting to note however that Remington and Russell world where apparently of the big mountains they painted if you will notice the buttes and the foothills and their high mountains where forever on the far distant horizon. But if nature and poets are particularly compatible we might hope that one day in a more benign political and social climate we might get away for a while from Marx and Freud and returned to Wordsworth may I propose a couple of for you I think we could do with a Wordsworth or two and retire Lord Russell to stud. Perhaps on this final day of a political campaign is the moment to observe that the prose and poetry of this year's debate has been rather deplorable the metaphors have been ostracized sentences left bleeding for want of subject or predicate and hyperbole robbed of grace and style this is a day perhaps to reflect upon what many qualified authorities say is the most brilliant political speech ever delivered in the English language it was delivered it was a five hour affair by the way in the House of Parliament delivered by Richard Brinsley Sheridan It is rather difficult to come by I want to inflict upon it up on you at this moment but try to get hold of it and read it it is a jam of the English language insofar as political wit in terms of the power of the language is consigned to the late governor Earl Long of Louisiana was a rather singular individual one day Governor long glanced across a crowded room and New Orleans and observed Leander Pereira's the indefatigable racist boss of plaque I mean power right and long shouted out at the top of his lungs Hey there Leander what you're going to do now that the feds have got that out of the bomb. I'm indebted to an old friend I represent a congressman from four up from Florida Billy Matthews for the following. I think the story is apocryphal but nevertheless here it is he says that he received this letter A lot of letter from a constituent in Florida and quieting how he stood on whiskey and prohibition and Billy says that he answered as follows MY DEAR FRIEND I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time however I want you to know that I do not Seana controversy on the contrary I will take a stand on any issue at any time regardless of how fraught with controversy and maybe you have asked me how I feel about whiskey here is how I stand on this question if when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brood the poison scourge the bloody monster that defiles innocence the thrones reason destroys the home creates misery and poverty Yea literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children if you mean the evil drank the top of the Christian man and woman from the pinnacles of righteous gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation and despair shame and helplessness and hopelessness then certainly I'm against it with all my power but. If when you say whiskey you mean the boil of conversation. The philosophic wind the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together that puts a song in their hearts and the laughter on their lips in the warm glow of contentment in their eyes. If you mean Christmas cheer if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring and the old gentleman step on a frosty morning. If you mean the drink that enables a man that magnify his joy and his happiness and to forget if only for a little while life's great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrows If you mean that bring the sale of weight pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars. Which are used to provide turned or care for little crippled children. In our climate are down far Domme our political aged and infirm to build highways and hospitals and schools then certainly I'm in favor of it. This is my stand and I will not compromise sincerely and not. In the year nine hundred thirty. The Broadway theater rared back and produced American green pastures by not Connelly Mr Connelly's play based on a series of biblical stories by rock Bradford went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winner. And I'm like a number of others which have preceded that award a classic not only of the American but of the will say it while the story of the writing on the stage history of the green past has occupies a high and central place in the kind of his book reminiscences voices offstage the surrounding territory is mighty interesting to the son of an actor turned hotel keeper in the Keys but Pennsylvania Mr Connelly was staged at an early age and to the great benefit the delight of a fair number of generations of the other goes has never recovered. As a playwright his career goes back as far as one hundred thirteen when he and George Kaufman wrote the deep tangled wild what So as collaborators they made most of Stachel contributions to did history with delicacy and I got horseback as an actor he's appeared in almost every field of theater stage movies radio television I think there are possible exceptions I don't think he's been in opera all ballet. He may correct me. He was one of the Algonquin whips member of the only thing was around people besides King offers a brilliant company recalled with affection to take their curtain calls in his new book Ladies and gentlemen Mr McConnell. And. I'm afraid our. Master of Ceremonies has completely forgotten the fact that I have a short but rather brilliant career as a dancer when I use the name the young. But I'm not here to talk about work as a ballet dancer I want to tell you about because I'm limited to what was an hour and a half. I'm limited in my time to mentioning one or two incidents of an era which at least in my life was a golden period I'm standing here truly filled with shame that I can't remember the name of the author probably everyone else here does remember the name of the person who said that memory was given to us so that we could have roses in the sun. Well I am standing in a garden and say the latter part of August at the moment. But I've got a lot of happy thoughts despite the fact somebody said the other day that must tell you it isn't what it used to be. I have tried in. My own little book I wish I could speak as modestly as Chet Huntley but I have too much vanity in me to do that but I want to talk not about all the people. Whose friendship I enjoyed and treasure but I want to talk about one