Happy Birthday Zelda Fitzgerald

 

Today is the birthday of writer and socialite Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama (1900). She was named after the fictional gypsy heroine in Zelda’s Fortune (1874), one of her mother’s favorite books. She was the youngest of five children, and she rebelled against the strict discipline of her father, an Alabama Supreme Court judge. She snuck out of her window at night, smoked cigarettes, bobbed her hair, and wore a flesh-colored swimsuit so that people would think she was swimming nude. She spent her evenings at dances and parties with the officers stationed at nearby Camp Sheridan, and they competed for her attention. One officer performed the full manual of arms drill outside her door, and others took turns trying to outdo each other with fancy airplane stunts in the sky above the Sayre household.

It was at Camp Sheridan that Zelda met a young officer named Scott Fitzgerald. He was beautiful, like Zelda — they were both petite, with blond hair and light eyes. Years later, in her autobiographical novel Save Me the Waltz (1932), she wrote: “He smelled like new goods. Being close to him with her face in the space between his ear and his stiff army collar was like being initiated into the subterranean reserves of a fine fabric store exuding the delicacy of cambrics and linen and luxury bound in bales.” Scott and Zelda spent a lot of time together, but she didn’t want to commit to him; even though he was confident that he was going to be rich and famous, Zelda was hesitant, and her parents were unconvinced. She wrote to him: “Mamma knows that we are going to be married some day — But she keeps leaving stories of young authors, turned out on a dark and stormy night, on my pillow — I wonder if you hadn’t better write to my Daddy — just before I leave — I wish I were detached — sorter without relatives. I’m not exactlyscared of ‘em, but they could be so unpleasant about what I’m going to do.”

After the publication of Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise(1920), Zelda agreed to marry Scott. They became the most famous couple of the Jazz Age. They were the center of attention at parties, where their drunken exploits became the stuff of legend.

Zelda was a writer in her own right, and Scott borrowed from her ideas and sometimes copied writing from her verbatim. When they were dating in Montgomery, Zelda showed Scott her diary, and he used that and her letters in This Side of Paradise. He had modeled the main character, Rosalind, after a woman he had been in love with at Princeton, named Ginevra King; but after meeting Zelda, he reworked the character of Rosalind until she was a combination of both women.

When Zelda was hired to write a review of The Beautiful and the Damned for the New York Herald Tribune, she wrote: “It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and also scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. In fact, Mr. Fitzgerald — I believe that is how he spells his name — seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.” She also encouraged readers to buy the book so that Scott could buy her a new dress and a platinum ring.

She said, “I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally.”

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

We took the wood from the old dock and made a ...

We took the wood from the old dock and made a wild west town. #MasonLake via therealspa

The revolution starts today.  #BigInflatableCr...

The revolution starts today. #BigInflatableCrayon via therealspa

I fear that anyone that started following me on Twitter today because of my World Cup tweets will quickly become very uninterested in the rest of my tweets. It is all the #MEXvsNED and #VivaMexico hashtags, when it is really more that right now, I really do not like the Dutch. Let’s break it down, since I do not claim to know much about Futball, I will use what I know. Who has the better beaches: Mexico or The Netherlands? Who has the better food: Mexico or The Netherlands? So, I rest my case. Oh, one more comparison: Who is NOT a passive-aggressive, lying, childish, unprofessional former employer of mine? Yes, the answer in every case in MEXICO.

It is true, I may be putting my own emotions into the mix, but even if this was six months ago, before I ever even heard of Suitsupply, I would still want Mexico to win. I am just glad to be rid of those horrible Dutch people. I dare say they are worse than Germans.

Friday was my last day at Suitsupply, I start work (training, I suspect) at Tiffany & Co. on Monday. My life will be back in balance. I will have time to do more than next week’s laundry, I will go to the gym, I will have a work/life balance. And (I hope), I will have and employer that knows what it is doing. The great things about working at Suitsupply were the people I worked with in Seattle and the customers that I helped and formed relationships with. I sold a suit that was worn during a performance at the Grammys. That’s a major highlight. The rest, the negativity, the hurt feelings, all that will fade. I am just lucky to have the new opportunity in front of me.

This week on Waldina, I added Caberet, It Should Happen To You and Harold and Maude to the Required Viewing film series; celebrated the birthdays of Pearl S. Buck and George Orwell; and celebrated my last day at Suitsupply.

The Stats:

All Time Views: 116,503
Views This Week: 382
Total Posts: 1,165
Total Subscribers: 316
Most Popular Post This Week: Ali MacGraw – Style Icon

This week on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted photos of vintage Hollywood, historic Seattle, New York & Los Angeles, the last words of The Great Gatsby:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

And this great photo series of James Dean:

The Stats:

Total Posts: 2,491
Posts This Week: 45
Total Subscribers: 179
Most Popular Post This Week: Seattle Hotel in Pioneer Square

This week over at @TheRealSPA, my little corner of Twitter, I trashed-talked The Netherlands (obvi), I lamented my decision to eat all that corn, I posted a list of the business that are actively working to lower Seattle’s minimum wage, I celebrated my last day, I posed photos from Instagram, I explained how to mass-unsubscribe from unwanted emails, I asked @Target if they allow people to openly carry firearms (they didn’t reply), and posted links to my Wasp & Pear and Waldina posts. Most importantly, I change my profile from “suit seller” to “diamond dealer.”

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 265 (ones older than 31 days are auto-purged to preserve freshness)
Total Followers: 181
Total Following: 243

come find me, i’m @:

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA

 

The Great Gatsby

Once, I went to a reading of the entire The Great Gatsby.  It took about eight hours and at least a half dozen people to play all the parts.  When they got to the last paragraph, we all recited it together.  It was intense and glorious and beautiful.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

 

 

It was on this day in 1925 that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby was published. Fitzgerald believed he had written a great book, and he was disappointed by its reception. He wrote to his friend Edmund Wilson: “Of all the reviews, even the most enthusiastic, not one had the slightest idea what the book was about.”

Fitzgerald was already famous when The Great Gatsby was published. His first novels, This Side of Paradise (1920) and The Beautiful and the Damned (1922), sold well. Scott and his wife, Zelda, were celebrities — a beautiful, fashionable, social couple. After watching them ride down Fifth Avenue on top of a taxi, writer Dorothy Parker said, “They did both look as though they had just stepped out of the sun.” Shortly after the publication of The Beautiful and the Damned, Fitzgerald wrote to his editor, Maxwell Perkins: “I want to write something new — something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.”But first he wrote a play, The Vegetable, and it was a flop. To pay off his debts, he churned out magazine stories. He wrote to a friend: “I really worked hard as hell last winter — but it was all trash and it nearly broke my heart as well as my iron constitution.” He had high hopes for a new book. He wrote to Perkins: “In my new novel I’m thrown directly on purely creative work — not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained imagination of a sincere yet radiant world.”

The Fitzgeralds’ extravagant New York lifestyle was weighing on them, and in the spring of 1924, the couple and their young daughter headed to Europe, where Scott was looking for somewhere quieter and less expensive to work on The Great Gatsby. (Fitzgerald’s idea of a quiet lifestyle was relative; of his 1926 visit to the Riviera, he wrote: “There was no one at Antibes this summer, except me, Zelda, the Valentinos, the Murphys, Mistinguet, Rex Ingram, Dos Passos, Alice Terry, the MacLeishes, Charlie Brackett, Mause Kahn, Lester Murphy, Marguerite Namara, E. Oppenheimer, Mannes the violinist, Floyd Dell, Max and Crystal Eastman … Just the right place to rough it, an escape from the world.”)

After a stay in Paris, they headed south to the town of Valescure on the French Riviera, which Fitzgerald called the “hot sweet south of France.” In those days, the Riviera was cheap, and they rented a villa on a hillside. He described the Mediterranean: “Fairy blue [...] and in the shadow of the mountains a green belt of land runs along the coast for a hundred miles and makes a playground for the world.” They went to fancy dinners with rich friends, listened to jazz on the phonograph, and lay in the sun drinking. Fitzgerald worked on The Great Gatsby, writing to Perkins that the south of France was idyllic and that he would finish the novel within a month. Zelda was not so happy; Scott was too busy with his novel to pay attention to her, and their daughter was watched by a nurse. She distracted herself by flirting with a French naval officer, and the Fitzgeralds’ marriage deteriorated.

They moved to Rome that fall, where Scott made final edits on The Great Gatsby. He couldn’t decide on a title — he considered On the Road to West Egg, Gold-hatted Gatsby, Among the Ash-Heaps and Millionaires, The High-bouncing Lover, Trimalchio, and others. While the book was in publication, Fitzgerald suddenly came up with Under the Red White and Blue, and Perkins had to convince him that it was not worth delaying publication and that they should stick with The Great Gatsby.

When The Great Gatsby was published on this day in 1925, it cost $2.00. The reviews were mostly good, but sales were bad — after the initial run of 20,000 copies, there was a second printing of 3,000 copies in August, but some of those copies were still in the warehouse when Fitzgerald died 15 years later. He told Perkins that he thought there were two reasons for the book’s failure: that the title wasn’t very good, and that there were no strong female characters and women were the ones buying fiction. A few years before he died, Fitzgerald went from bookstore to bookstore trying to find copies of his books for his lover Sheilah Graham, but he couldn’t find any.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald wrote: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Zelda Fitzgerald – Words To Live By

zelda-ballet
“She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, The Collected Writings

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

I decided to use the paintings of Gerald Murphy this weekend.  His painting “Wasp and Pear” was the inspiration for my Tumblr page, I loved it the first time I saw it in a book many years ago. I will include links to all the info I have collected on Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara in the Related Links/Further Reading section at the end of this post.

In related news, this week I learned you can only store 300 posts in your Tumblr queue as they wait future publication.  Since I hit that limit, I upped my auto-post to three a day.  Still modest, still respectful of feed variety.

This week, we moved and this weekend, we unpacked, unpacked, and unpacked.  I am still unpacking.  I hope to find some clothes to wear other than the limited variety that was moved in a laundry basket.  There will come a point soon when it will be either too cold or inappropriate to wear gym clothes all the time.  Soon, like tomorrow morning.  The place is looking great, there is a lot more room and it is interesting to see how furniture looks completely different in a different space.  The last three places I have live have been painted gray (if you live in Seattle, think ‘November Sky’ and you have the idea of the color) and this one, I think we are going to paint ultra pure white.  The whole place could use a coat, and I plan on tackling a room every weekend or so, nothing too crazy, I still have clear memories of painting the outside of old house last month.  Think of that scene of the 1973 version of The Great Gatsby when Daisy and Nick are reunited in Daisy’s living room:  ethereal billowing curtains, white, gauzey, crisp, clean, new, hopeful.  Just fresh.  Oh here, watch it:

That’s the idea, anyway.

I have about ten minutes before I need to start getting ready to drive over the mountains to see a fire (or hopefully see no fire) and perhaps eat a cherry or two.  Photos forthcoming.  Check my instagram feed on the sidebar of this website or Wasp & Pear.  Probably not facebook…

Happy Birthday Zelda Fitzgerald

Today is the birthday of writer and socialite Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama (1900). She was named after the fictional gypsy heroine in Zelda’s Fortune (1874), one of her mother’s favorite books. She was the youngest of five children, and she rebelled against the strict discipline of her father, an Alabama Supreme Court judge. She snuck out of her window at night, smoked cigarettes, bobbed her hair, and wore a flesh-colored swimsuit so that people would think she was swimming nude. She spent her evenings at dances and parties with the officers stationed at nearby Camp Sheridan, and they competed for her attention. One officer performed the full manual of arms drill outside her door, and others took turns trying to outdo each other with fancy airplane stunts in the sky above the Sayre household.

It was at Camp Sheridan that Zelda met a young officer named Scott Fitzgerald. He was beautiful, like Zelda — they were both petite, with blond hair and light eyes. Years later, in her autobiographical novel Save Me the Waltz (1932), she wrote: “He smelled like new goods. Being close to him with her face in the space between his ear and his stiff army collar was like being initiated into the subterranean reserves of a fine fabric store exuding the delicacy of cambrics and linen and luxury bound in bales.” Scott and Zelda spent a lot of time together, but she didn’t want to commit to him; even though he was confident that he was going to be rich and famous, Zelda was hesitant, and her parents were unconvinced. She wrote to him: “Mamma knows that we are going to be married some day — But she keeps leaving stories of young authors, turned out on a dark and stormy night, on my pillow — I wonder if you hadn’t better write to my Daddy — just before I leave — I wish I were detached — sorter without relatives. I’m not exactlyscared of ‘em, but they could be so unpleasant about what I’m going to do.”

After the publication of Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise(1920), Zelda agreed to marry Scott. They became the most famous couple of the Jazz Age. They were the center of attention at parties, where their drunken exploits became the stuff of legend.

Zelda was a writer in her own right, and Scott borrowed from her ideas and sometimes copied writing from her verbatim. When they were dating in Montgomery, Zelda showed Scott her diary, and he used that and her letters in This Side of Paradise. He had modeled the main character, Rosalind, after a woman he had been in love with at Princeton, named Ginevra King; but after meeting Zelda, he reworked the character of Rosalind until she was a combination of both women.

When Zelda was hired to write a review of The Beautiful and the Damned for the New York Herald Tribune, she wrote: “It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and also scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. In fact, Mr. Fitzgerald — I believe that is how he spells his name — seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.” She also encouraged readers to buy the book so that Scott could buy her a new dress and a platinum ring.

She said, “I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally.”

The Golden Bowl Is Broken

I remember reading this letter years ago.  I used to spend many rainy afternoons in the college library avoiding any course-related work by devouring the biographies of the “Lost Generation” writers, artists, composers, dancers, and their benefactors.  This letter has remained with me and I am reminded of it whenever I or someone I know experiences loss.  I used to include the “golden bowl” line in sympathy cards, but I think it really only meant something to me.  After reading several biographies on the Murphy family, I felt very fond of them, their loss of their two boys, while having all the treatments and specialists money could buy, hurt as if I actually knew them.  The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald was an often-borrowed book from several libraries from Seattle to Interlochen (until I found my own copy in a second-hand book store) and it’s content I think of at least once a week.  I hope you like it too. 

On January 30th of 1937, two years after his older brother, Baoth, succumbed to meningitis, 16-year-old Patrick Murphy passed away following a seven year battle with tuberculosis.  The boys’ 20-year-old sister, Honoria, remained.  A few days later, the children’s distraught parents, Gerald and Sara Murphy, received the following letter of condolence from their friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

January 31, 1937

Dearest Gerald and Sara:

The telegram came today and the whole afternoon was so sad with thoughts of you and the happy times we had once. Another link binding you to life is broken and with such insensate cruelty that it is hard to say which of the two blows was conceived with more malice. I can see the silence in which you hover now after this seven years of struggle and it would take words like Lincoln’s in his letter to the mother who had lost four sons in the war to write you anything fitting at the moment. The sympathy you will get will be what you have had from each other already and for a long, long time you will be inconsolable.

But I can see another generation growing up around Honoria and an eventual peace somewhere, an occasional port of call as we all sail deathward. Fate can’t have any more arrows in its quiver for you that will wound like these. Who was it said that it was astounding how deepest griefs can change in time to a sort of joy?  The golden bowl is broken indeed but it was golden; nothing can ever take those boys away from you now.

Scott

Zelda Fitzgerald – Style Icon


Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (July 24, 1900 – March 10, 1948), born Zelda Sayre (“Sayre” is pronounced to rhyme with “fair”) in Montgomery, Alabama, was an American novelist and the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was an icon of the 1920s—dubbed by her husband “the first American Flapper”. After the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), the Fitzgeralds became celebrities. The newspapers of New York saw them as embodiments of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties: young, seemingly wealthy, beautiful, and energetic.

Even as a child her audacious behavior was the subject of Montgomery gossip. Shortly after finishing high school, she met F. Scott Fitzgerald at a dance. A whirlwind courtship ensued. Though he had professed his infatuation, she continued seeing other men. Despite fights and a prolonged break-up, they married in 1920, and spent the early part of the decade as literary celebrities in New York. Later in the 1920s, they moved to Europe, recast as famous expatriates of the Lost Generation. While Scott received acclaim for The Great Gatsby and his short stories, and the couple socialized with literary luminaries like Ernest Hemingway, their marriage was a tangle of jealousy, resentment and acrimony. Scott used their relationship as material in his novels, even lifting snippets from Zelda’s diary and assigning them to his fictional heroines. Seeking an artistic identity of her own, Zelda wrote magazine articles and short stories, and at 27 became obsessed with a career as a ballerina, practicing to exhaustion.

The strain of her tempestuous marriage, Scott’s increasing alcoholism, and her growing instability presaged Zelda’s admittance to the Sheppard Pratt sanatorium in 1930. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While in the Towson, Maryland, clinic, she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, which was published in 1932. Scott was furious that she had used material from their life together, though he would go on to do the same, as in Tender Is the Night, published in 1934; the two novels provide contrasting portrayals of the couple’s failing marriage.

Back in America, Scott went to Hollywood where he tried screenwriting and began a relationship with the movie columnist Sheilah Graham. In 1936, Zelda entered the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Scott died in Hollywood in 1940, having last seen Zelda a year and a half earlier. She spent her remaining years working on a second novel, which she never completed, and she painted extensively. In 1948, the hospital at which she was a patient caught fire, causing her death. Interest in the Fitzgeralds resurged shortly after her death: the couple has been the subject of popular books, movies and scholarly attention. After a life as an emblem of the Jazz Age, Roaring Twenties, and Lost Generation, Zelda Fitzgerald posthumously found a new role: after a popular 1970 biography portrayed her as a victim of an overbearing husband, she became a feminist icon.

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

Oh this week…

I got a new phone and can’t figure out how to load my old junk into it, so I have two phones until I complete the data entry that is moving contacts.  Or whatever, text me and identify yourself to make sure we move forward together.

I wish I liked this song less:

Over at Waldina, we celebrated Billy Wilder‘s birthday and Judy Holliday‘s birthday.  We were inspired by Leigh Bowery, Kay Thompson, Lauren Bacall, and Tippi Hendren.

Then, at Wasp & Pear we celebrated Carol Doda, Chrissie Hynde, David Bowie, Rudolph Valentino, Polaroid Land Camera SX-70, Edie Sedgwick, Erdem Gunduz, Diane Ladd, Doris Day, The Great Gatsby (1974 film), Frances Farmer, and Bonnie and Clyde.  I cannot say enough good things about Tumblr, I Tumblr for you, do you Tumblr for me?  [you may have just witnessed my first ever pun]

Instagram launched videos and I cannot wait to see the endless supply of moving selfie-duckface-bathroom pics.  I will give it a try, if I don’t think I look gross and if I figure out how to use my new phone.

This week, I learned how to take two picnic favorites and make them one super-favorite picnic powerhouse:

In Other News:

This week was crazy with day-late-dollar-short apology videos, it’s like a whole new sub-genre on youtube.

Miss Thing over at Exodus International said he was sorry for wrapping his own self-hate up in the bible and forcing it on people for the last 37 years even though the higher-ups in the organization routinely used it as their own match.com and left it (and their opposite-sex spouses) for lives of commitment ceremonies and Sunday brunches .  He apologized for making people that were going through difficult realizations about themselves feel worse enough to contemplate, attempt, and even commit suicide.  It’s just not good enough.  This man does not get a free pass because he said sorry.  He plans to rebadge his ministry into a kinder-more-affirming bla bla bla.  You can find his apology video by googling it, I will not provide it, try keywords “Liar Closet-Case Hater Apology Video.”

Oh Miss Paula.  To be honest, when I heard that Paula Dean used the n-word, I thought it seemed about right.  When I heard her brother (his name is Bubba) used it in reference to our President, it seemed pretty stupid, but not out of the realm of believability.  But when I heard that Paula wanted black waiters to dress up like slaves at Bubba’s wedding and that she is unable to determine if jokes about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks offend people I thought that was even a bit much for her.  She also issued an apology video this week, probably more because she was worried people would stop buying her merchandise than due to any change in her butter-drenched heart.  Her contract is not being renewed at the Food Network and hopefully, she will slip quietly into history’s footnotes.  You can find the video using key words “Liar Racist Butter Apology Video.”

Tune in next week for Rachel Ray’s apology video when it is discovered that every time she said “yummo” and “E.V.O.O.” she whole-heartedly knew America’s soul incrementally died.

“The Diamond As Big As The Ritz” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of the many novels that have stuck with me and I carry around in my head is  a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald called “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.”

The story first appeared in the June 1922 issue of The Smart Set, a popular magazine of the 1920s. Originally titled “The Diamond in the Sky,” Fitzgerald had attempted to sell it to the Saturday Evening Post, which had published many of his other stories, but its harsh anticapitalistic message was rejected by the conservative magazine. In September 1922, the story appeared in his second collection, Tales of the Jazz Age.

The story was inspired by Fitzgerald’s 1915 visit to the Montana home of a Princeton classmate. It tells of young John Unger, who is invited to visit a classmate at his impossibly lavish home in Montana. Gradually, Unger learns the sinister origins of his host’s wealth and the frightening lengths to which he will go to preserve it.

In this story, Fitzgerald begins to explore many of the themes he used later when writing his best-known work, The Great Gatsby. The carelessness and immorality of the vastly wealthy and the American fascination with wealth are personified by Braddock Washington and his narcississtic family, who seem to believe that all others have been put on Earth for their amusement.

It is old enough to be in the Public Domain, so I will include the whole story below.  You should read it.  It’s not that long, really quite tightly written, and a pretty good reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ

by
F. Scott Fitzgerald


JOHN T. UNGER came from a family that had been well known in Hades–a small town on the Mississippi River–for several generations.

John’s father had held the amateur golf championship through many a heated contest; Mrs. Unger was known “from hot-box to hot-bed,” as the local phrase went, for her political addresses; and young John T. Unger, who had just turned sixteen, had danced all the latest dances from New York before he put on long trousers. And now, for a certain time, he was to be away from home. That respect for a New England education which is the bane of all provincial places, which drains them yearly of their most promising young men, had seized upon his parents. Nothing would suit them but that he should go to St. Midas’ School near Boston– Hades was too small to hold their darling and gifted son.

Now in Hades–as you know if you ever have been there–the names of the more fashionable preparatory schools and colleges mean very little. The inhabitants have been so long out of the world that, though they make a show of keeping up to date in dress and manners and literature, they depend to a great extent on hearsay, and a function that in Hades would be considered elaborate would doubtless be hailed by a Chicago beef-princess as “perhaps a little tacky.”

John T. Unger was on the eve of departure. Mrs. Unger, with maternal fatuity, packed his trunks full of linen suits and electric fans, and Mr. Unger presented his son with an asbestos pocket-book stuffed with money.

“Remember, you are always welcome here,” he said. “You can be sure boy, that we’ll keep the home fires burning.”

“I know,” answered John huskily.

“Don’t forget who you are and where you come from,” continued his father proudly, “and you can do nothing to harm you. You are an Unger–from Hades.”

So the old man and the young shook hands and John walked away with tears streaming from his eyes. Ten minutes later he had passed outside the city limits, and he stopped to glance back for the last time. Over the gates the old-fashioned Victorian motto seemed strangely attractive to him. His father had tried time and time again to have it changed to something with a little more push and verve about it, such as “Hades–Your Opportunity,” or else a plain “Welcome” sign set over a hearty handshake pricked out in electric lights. The old motto was a little depressing, Mr. Unger had thought–but now….

So John took his look and then set his face resolutely toward his destination. And, as he turned away, the lights of Hades against the sky seemed full of a warm and passionate beauty.

St. Midas’ School is half an hour from Boston in a Rolls-Pierce motorcar. The actual distance will never be known, for no one, except John T. Unger, had ever arrived there save in a Rolls-Pierce and probably no one ever will again. St. Midas’ is the most expensive and the most exclusive boys’ preparatory school in the world.

John’s first two years there passed pleasantly. The fathers of all the boys were money-kings and John spent his summers visiting at fashionable resorts. While he was very fond of all the boys he visited, their fathers struck him as being much of a piece, and in his boyish way he often wondered at their exceeding sameness. When he told them where his home was they would ask jovially, “Pretty hot down there?” and John would muster a faint smile and answer, “It certainly is.” His response would have been heartier had they not all made this joke–at best varying it with, “Is it hot enough for you down there?” which he hated just as much.

In the middle of his second year at school, a quiet, handsome boy named Percy Washington had been put in John’s form. The newcomer was pleasant in his manner and exceedingly well dressed even for St. Midas’, but for some reason he kept aloof from the other boys. The only person with whom he was intimate was John T. Unger, but even to John he was entirely uncommunicative concerning his home or his family. That he was wealthy went without saying, but beyond a few such deductions John knew little of his friend, so it promised rich confectionery for his curiosity when Percy invited him to spend the summer at his home “in the West.” He accepted, without hesitation.

It was only when they were in the train that Percy became, for the first time, rather communicative. One day while they were eating lunch in the dining-car and discussing the imperfect characters of several of the boys at school, Percy suddenly changed his tone and made an abrupt remark.

“My father,” he said, “is by far the richest man in the world.”

“Oh,” said John, politely. He could think of no answer to make to this confidence. He considered “That’s very nice,” but it sounded hollow and was on the point of saying, “Really?” but refrained since it would seem to question Percy’s statement. And such an astounding statement could scarcely be questioned.

“By far the richest,” repeated Percy.

“I was reading in the World Almanac,” began John, “that there was one man in America with an income of over five million a year and four men with incomes of over three million a year, and–“

“Oh, they’re nothing.” Percy’s mouth was a half-moon of scorn. “Catchpenny capitalists, financial small-fry, petty merchants and money-lenders. My father could buy them out and not know he’d done it.”

“But how does he–“

“Why haven’t they put down his income tax? Because he doesn’t pay any. At least he pays a little one–but he doesn’t pay any on his real income.”

“He must be very rich,” said John simply. “I’m glad. I like very rich people.

“The richer a fella is, the better I like him.” There was a look of passionate frankness upon his dark face. “I visited the Schnlitzer-Murphys last Easter. Vivian Schnlitzer-Murphy had rubies as big as hen’s eggs, and sapphires that were like globes with lights inside them–“

“I love jewels,” agreed Percy enthusiastically. “Of course I wouldn’t want any one at school to know about it, but I’ve got quite a collection myself I used to collect them instead of stamps.”

“And diamonds,” continued John eagerly. “The Schnlitzer-Murphys had diamonds as big as walnuts–“

“That’s nothing.” Percy had leaned forward and dropped his voice to a low whisper. “That’s nothing at all. My father has a diamond bigger than the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.”

Full Text:  http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/diamond/diamond.html

Continue reading