Oral History Cover Sheet
Narrator: Robert Osborn
Interviewee: Robert Steck
Tape # 62 A/B
Place of Interview: Robert Osborn’s house
Summary of talk: Osborn’s name change history, leather trade. Living locations, Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, France, Taconic. Father’s frontier life, father was a judge and a teacher. Wyckoff family, Robert Wyckoff a newspaperman, philander. Mother was a music teacher, Spanish War, won the right to govern in Spain. First year here 1929, tea at Yale, if needed a job contact George Van Sanfoord at Hotchkiss, job accepted to start an art department, medical issues with ulcer. WWH out in the Pacific, recalling history of Hotchkiss school social life, interacting with teachers, town’s people. The Depression period, servants being told how to vote, otherwise fired, FDR talking’s, stock market problems, Europe to attend The British Academy. Budapest to view Vermeer painting, 1935 heard Hitler speak, very diabolic quality. Moved to Taconic 1937, did not go back to Hotchkiss to teach. Painting, bought small house in Taconic, sold his paintings to pay for living expenses. Took hamper of paintings to art gallery in NY, Mary Lasker, imitating other artist not his own style. George Storm given a drawing thank you for duck shooting outing. Sketches turned into small book, two more to follow, opportunities there to put out cartoons. Deeply grateful to live where he did.
Date: December 4, 1987
Property of the Oral History Project
The Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library
Salisbury, Conn. 06068
RS: Interview with Bob Osborn. December 4th 1987
RS: I read in your book (Osborn on Osborn) you know about your mother and your father and I was quite interested in your antecedents if you know anything about them. Your grandparents or who came over here and why did they come?
RO: Ok I can tell you pretty clearly I feel this branch the Osborn’s without an E on it. Incidentally the people who dropped the E were those who were against the king, and the fancier Osborns or some royalist they hung they kept the E so it was Osborne. Anyway, these Welsh people is was the eighteenth century they came, the Osborn’s came from Wales. They landed in New Haven, and they were in leather. The Osborn that came was promptly put in jail for cheating on the quality of leather. I suppose after he got out of jail. So then they went to Sleepy Hollow. The family moved to Sleepy Hollow, in New York. Then from Sleepy Hollow you know how people were moving west I suppose by now it is the beginning of the nineteenth century, and going on the waterways and all that. Oh they finally ended up in Washeenee, Illinois and up into Wisconsin. My father’s father was a judge out there. It’s a little tiny town my father was born in. He once took me to see the place out there in a town called Iola, I.O.L.A. Wisconsin. He showed me the house; it was as just as big as a minute. It was a very small house; he said he and his brothers slept up in the attic. He said snow use to come in through the roof on the blankets. It was a very frontier life. My father, Albert Osborn (born Sept. 9, 1858) told me that as a boy. This is up in the middle of Wisconsin. At night you’d look out one of these small windows, and you’d see an Indian face right out there in the darkness. His father told him to just stare right at that face and pretty soon the face would just vanish back into the woods. The only reason I’m telling you this is that I come from; naturally I don’t know whether you want to know about me?
RB: I do, I do yes
RO: He was terribly close to the frontier. I can see that my father had very distinct feeling about the frontier and surely his father did. Finally starting out in that small house my father’s family moved on to Oshkosh it was there that the old man became a judge and father started out, he actually never went to college, started out about the age of sixteen to teach in a one room school house.
RB: That was your father?
RO: That was my father. Three miles outside of Oshkosh. He’d walk out there
every morning and teach his young pupil. He said he had one student that was older than he was. Seventeen years old and his father was sixteen but pretty soon he got into lumber. Again is any of this relevant?
RB: Yes, yes I think it is in your book you do describe the lumber. Let me just go back and ask you about the mother’s side of the family.
RO: Very good, very good. She was a Wyckoff her family were docked. Actually that old, old house I think it was almost the oldest house now on Long Island was the Wyckoff house. (Alice Lydia Wyckoff born June 9, 1873 Detroit, Michigan) I don’t know whether she was directly connected with that in the library there’s a book about the Wyckoff family, I never traced it directly; I’m not that much interested in those things. But these Dutch people came over I really don’t know much about her parents. I know about her mother. By now Wycoffs were out in Detroit, Robert Wyckoff her father was a newspaper man also a philander. I think he must have been a terrible person. Her mother use to come visit us in Oshkosh: marvelous a very handsome woman but just a housewife, very correct and wore one of those high collars all those ladies wore in those days. My mother was really had a great deal of spunk to her. As a young girl she was musical, she studied at a school in Detroit and I think at the age of about 18 or 19 darned if she didn’t get a job as a music teacher and went up to Ironworth, Michigan. This was up in the lumber country. She lived actually with a terribly nice family: he was head of all prison in Michigan. Mr. Wright was his name. Margaret as a young girl lived there with that man Mr. Wright, and Mrs. Wright, his wife. His wife is actually a delightful woman I meet her as a child. My mother would get up in the morning she said sometimes 30 below zero. Think of this compared to kids now a days. Mother said that she would walk ten miles each day between three schools and teach a class in music in one school then might walk four miles to the next school and then back to the this school but as a triangle, teaching her class of music in each one of those schools. Again just think of the vitality of those people. Mother who died at 82 still had this wonderful kind of vigorous quality to her.
RS: You know if you’re growing up in Iowa as I did. That’s where I’m from Davenport. It was the most populous period and also that of the progressivism in Wisconsin. You were growing up during that period. I was particularly interested in whether any of this helped to shape any of your thinking or were you too young for that?
RO: No, no it actually didn’t but what did, let’s see father just loathed Robert La Tollette. He thought he was just really an untruthful man: what he was saying, what he was promising, what he was actually doing. Father really disgusted him very much. Actually I think some rich lumbermen out there put my father as a congressman into their legislature down in Madison. I’m sure probably they were
combating with La Tollette. I suspect La Tollette actually was more corrupt than those lumbermen because he saw them just cutting the trees down and leaving slashing all of that all over the land. He was insisting that they got laws passed. That they had to clean up after they had sawed cut this timber to make money. It was amazing how strong his sense of things being right or wrong between that the sense of justice. I know now, I didn’t sense it of course at the time, my father’s strong sense of justice: but around the dining room table at home at dinner I can remember my father hammering his mahogany table and the china jumping all over the place, I remember once he said I think I can make brass pudding in that wood. I don’t care if everybody believes this, and I believe that, if I believe what I am standing for is correct, I am going to stand firmly for it, and with that wam the dining room table.
RS: That he shared with Mark Twain
RO: You have that very strong sense of justice. I don’t know whether it’s because you need to have to. When he lost his mother when he was 6 years old and had a really wretched step mother the judge had married, but I’m sure that must have given him this sense of I would call it justice. I find even at this day and age that as I watch these injustices being carried out, I am amazed how angry it makes me just plain angry I felt these very strongly with that Spanish War. I had been there three months before that war began, and those people had actually won by an election. They won the right to govern in Spain. Then there’s these rich people moved in with the army. This is really incensed stuff: highly incensed like I told you. I tried to volunteer to go over there and fight .1 would have probably been killed except I was a very good shot. I was a good rifle shot. Ok
RS: That covers that background very well. I’d like to jump now to when you came here because the rest of that material I am trying to cover are things that are not in the book right?
RS: I gather from the book that your first year here was 1929?
RS: Had you ever seen the place before?
RO: What happened was when I was at Yale, I think it was probably a spring afternoon, and I had been invited to a professor’s digs, Chauncey Brewster Tinker asked me up for tea. There were professors that thought I was bright or funny or something. I was asked up for tea. Imagine in those tea days you were going to have
tea with your very remarkable professor, George Van Santvoord who had taught at Yale and had actually left Yale because he wasn’t doing any publishing, and they weren’t advancing him. He left and went up to the University of Syracuse. However think of the luck on his side that spring afternoon. He happened to be in New Haven and came up to Chauncey Brewster Tinker’s rooms and had tea. I didn’t know him at all. We talked during tea. I’m trying to think perhaps he did because he had taught there at Yale; perhaps as a freshman he had seen me. I never had a course with him, but anyways at the end of the tea he said, “Well if you ever need a job.”( I guess by that time he had gone to Hotchkiss: he was then Headmaster of Hotchkiss.) he said, “get in contact with me.” After I finished at Yale, I had earned one thousand five hundred dollars which was quite a lot from cartoons. From the Yale Daily News I got some. If the Yale Record hadn’t put up that darn building, I would have had really quite a lot of money. Well with that money I set off for Paris and studied in Italy, France. After about a year the money was just down, and I could see that I was getting to the end. I wrote a letter to George Van Santvoord and said, “I would be interested in coming to Hotchkiss.” They didn’t have any art teachers. I wrote this very correct letter saying I would like to go. There was no answer, and the money is going slowly I was literally down to about 180.00 dollars at that point. I was going over to Morgan and Company where my mail came. It was that afternoon; there was a telegram there from Van Santvoord saying yes we would like to have you come. I have cold chills at the memory of this; it was as though you took off in a balloon. Actually though I took the telegram they handed me, I walked over in to the Tuileries and stood beneath the statue. I opened the thing, and it said, “Yes, come and start an art department.”
RO: Oh really what a moment you know. I packed up my trunks, clothes and stuff and went over to North Express, got ticket on a boat that probably cost about 110.00 dollars; tourist class it was. I arrived in New York .1 took a train from New York to Millerton. When I arrived in Millerton, I had 15.00 dollar s George Milmine loaned me another 15.00 dollars. Incidentally think of how simple life was in those days, I never taught art or anything but I put a department together. Van Santvoord was very helpful about that. In that main corridor we put up some beaver board so you could mount pictures without having to make up these exhibits. I don’t know that you want to know about that? RS: Yes, yes
RO: But I was having to evolve, of course. By that time having been in Europe I was so excited about art. I was trying to convey this to the boys. A lot of those kids were going to end up with a great deal of money and be in the position to advance the arts in this country. At that time actually the arts weren’t really very much respected in the United States. It was terribly conservative. My goodness it was just as backward as it could be. Chicago at the Arts Institute three women were collecting impressionist pictures, and they were really moving things forward. But here in the East was quite backward. Except I did find by teaching about these various qualities that you could find in art, I was backing theses exhibits up with cartoons, funny cartoons so I was getting these kids to acutely look at these various things. That brings up the fact that when I arrived there I had a lot of very fancy German prints called “Huagstael ” prints Gaugin, Dega, Renoir all of that, I just started out by putting these very beautiful paintings out, prints, and these boys would walk right by and never even looked at them. So I had to keep cranking down and down and down “holding my standards” Finally I was showing them airplane propellers. I just kept going down until I got to automobiles, but I was showing them the Bagotta car rather than some terrible Dodge out of Detroit; showing them the difference between that Bagotta hood and the Dodge hood. It began to go very well. I was teaching drawing and painting in a small room down in the basement of the Head master’s house. I swear the ceilings were probably around 6 foot four if that. It was actually the furnace room but here were these 6 or 7 kids that were enthusiastic about art. One of them by the name of William Kienbusch, and he really had it. Well anyways these 6 or 7 we’d go down there in the afternoon, when I didn’t have to coach football. We were painting down there, and we had a marvelous time. We painted the whole inside with white rafters, white washed the thing. Had my boy told me later, I think he had written it at Hotchkiss, for me talking art and sort of giving him leeway because his father was German and terrible strict. He said how important it had meant to him. I can just tell you a really joyful course; it was very joyful for me. Goodness I had a job. By this time the United States was in a depression. I think I was getting paid twelve hundred dollars a year, but you were warm, you had food, and you had a room of your own to sleep in. This in what brought me here, but it didn’t take very long I can tell you before you sensed what a rare landscape was here. This landscapes Takes on a certain nobility that you don’t find very often in this country. Out west you do, but you go down to Virginia it doesn’t have this quality. I was at once taken with the area, and in those days it had wonderful rural quality, with Emerson Quaile Headmaster at Salisbury School, you’d go pheasant shooting or go partridge shooting .There weren’t many ducks out here no. No geese at all mind you. This is 1929 to 35 but the whole length is so pleasing I can’t tell you I was plain happy. However I was problems with duodenal ulcer. I’m not sure what part of this was George Van Santvoord, was very demanding to talk all night long until 2 ‘o’clock in the morning. You were trying to get sleep and all of that. Anyways finally the ulcer perforated when Sunday morning George Milmine and I had eaten kippered herring of all things.
RS: George was teaching there?
RO: George was teaching there. I think we were rooming together. Again very simple rules but were having a very good time. We would give him great credit for the people he had brought there. I remember a fellow from Yale called “Jack Parker” who coached football and probably taught mathematics. But on the whole, Van Santvoord actually raised the intellectual level of that school very distinctly. It had been a good school up until then, but it had been Van Santvoord who made it a high recognized school. Anyway George and I had eaten kippered herring for breakfast about 111 had this frightful pain. The ulcer had perforated. Dr. Harry Wider, Hotchkiss School doctor wasn’t quite sure. He got hold of Dr. Herrick: Phil Herrick was a NY doctor father of the fellow (Bill Herrick) who had the travel agency in Lakeville. He confirmed that it was a perforated ulcer. The ambulance with Dr. Wider and I went to Pittsfield, Mass. Dr. Herrick had called ahead, and an operation was performed. I won’t go into the details about that but they got me through that and then however that was the end. I was beginning to feel the things were just repeating year after year sort of the same thing; the vibrancy had gone out of it. Well the Depression was just ending. I remember I told George Matlin an Englishman who was teaching there I said that I thought I better go back to France and study more. Is those days I was still absolutely determined to be a painter although I could cartoon..
RO: Later on I had joined the war of WWII out in the Pacific I was out on a carrier in the Pacific. I finished the job out there. I was having terrible time; I was in great pain. Flew back in the tail of a PBY which is a sea plane cold as could be and landing in San Francisco. If I take a train across the county rather than fly across to get back to my base that things would calm down but they didn’t. I was coming up 57th street in New York City to see Elodie my wife I had married just before going off to the Pacific. She said I was absolutely delirious I suppose just loss of moisture. I was sent up to St. Alban’s hospital and just by sheer luck but the man that ran the St. Albans Naval Hospital his specialty was duodenal ulcers. He operated on me there;they took away about a third of the stomach.
RS: I’ve noticed that there does seem to be a separation between the school and the community. When you were at Hotchkiss during that time, did you have relationship with people in the town of any kind?
RO: Yes you mean social relationship?
RS: Social relations? Public relations
RO: I think the interesting thing again is just sprays of joys from George Van
Santvoord. Had a real sense that Hotchkiss had a responsibility to this town. I think also Hotchkiss was bringing in quite a bit trade probably from those boys.
RO: But George felt that Hotchkiss should be doing things for the town. He actually volunteered my services as an art teacher to the school down here. Not the Housatonic High School which didn’t exist then, but the yellow building school down here in town. I used to walk down there one day a week and teach art.
RS: Was this on a high school level?
RO: Yes, these people were twelve, thirteen, and fourteen.
RS: And where was this school?
RO: This is right down in town where the school basically, in Salisbury
RS: In Salisbury, where the present, Salisbury Central School is now?
RO: The present school is before the new building which my wife, Elodie got built. But at least it indicated a sense that Hotchkiss must it feel like a high faluting place, and we did have a responsibility that. As far as the social life went you did see these various people. You were invited to dinner. I use to come up to the Scoville place with great pleasure. The people in town would invite us to come to meals or picnics or whatever. If something really very good was going on they were always invited to come to concerts they should not be paying taxes. Hotchkiss is doing such an important job in the education in America that they should be given great credit for doing that.
RS: No I’m glad the way you put it. We’ll come back to that
RO: Oh indeed very strong feelings
RS: It could well be
RO: It could bring quite a lot of money into the town. They do make gifts to the town; I think they supply more and more things. They strike a cultural level that towns around that simply don’t have. It comes and emanates from those three schools.
RO: That of course in my wife’s words that was the Elodie’s work that was not mine.
RS: You were here during the Depression? How did the Depression show in the community in town? Do you have any awareness of that? Were there any attitudes expressed towards FDR?
RO: Oh there were of course. There were a lot of rich people down in Millbrook, New York terribly spoiled people; one family told the servants, probably the cook and the gardener if they didn’t vote for FDR, they would be fired. You know you could be so shocked by this kind of performance. Salisbury did not have a feeling of poverty. I’d been out in Oshkosh. One Christmas I had gone out to see my parents. I can remember in that lumbering town so many people were out of work. A friend of mine, who had been captain of University of Wisconsin football team, wrapped up looking like somebody out in Siberia. He was shoveling snow in the street purely to provide him with a job. But clearing of the main street in Osh Kosh just with hand shovels. There was a crew of probably twenty people, but those people had no job. I don’t know whether you’re old enough to remember people selling apples?
RS: I certainly am.
RO: All these young people have now it seems no sense of what could really happen. I think it’s rather amusing that stock market dropped, then that free fall, and then the melt down the next day. I’m sure it terrified all those people, but you and I actually saw this thing take place, and the whole country just come almost to a standstill until FDR got in there, and said, “We had nothing to fear but fear itself.”
RS: You didn’t feel anything at the community here?
RO: You didn’t really. Part of this was because there was enough farming going on. People actually could raise their own vegetables and enough to get through, but everything was pretty there was nothing very plush. People were much nicer with one another and much kinder. It made life, even with the amount of misery that was going on day to day: there was a humanity that was warm because we were all in this fix. Father was cleaned out by this thing, and yet somehow they held together. Family life out there was greatly reduced. My father had lived through three depressions like that in 1888 or in 92 I believe perhaps 1940. He said you watch; it will come back alright. Sure enough it did. It came back so thoroughly that it dropped 500 points in one day. It wasn’t as miserable here as it was in the large cities.
RS: Now it was during, it was between that period then before you came back to Salisbury the you heard Hitler in Germany?
RO: 1935 I thought I needed more training, and so I went to Europe. In Italy I went to the British Academy. It was the fancy British Academy that’s run by the government. You use to go down to the town of Valencia and this lady would come out on this balcony and try to tell them that Italy was going to become a great nation and a powerful war like nation. They went out to and beat up those poor Ethiopians dropping bombs.
RS: You were there pre- Ethiopian
RO: Yes as a matter of fact it was just the beginning of that
RS: Was Mussolini a convincing figure at that point?
RO: No he looked like a pouter pigeon. And yet to the Italians he actually was convincing. There were a lot of these black shirt fellows they all had uniforms on, arrogant as could be. Italy is not really respected as a powerful nation. Kindly loving people would rather be raising geraniums than anything else. They also felt that they were being rather laughed at in front of the other Europeans: consequently to have Mussolini come along and start to bolster their pride in Italy, you could see there were plenty of the citizens that liked this feeling, and course he made the railroad run on time. He was providing jobs, but he was building up their national pride. I think it’s got them in a lot of trouble. Would you like to have me speak about Hitler?
RS: Ya, ya
RO: I must have been teaching at Hotchkiss probably the very last year I was given a job tutoring two boys from Minneapolis The Daniels family were going to Austria, and I was just going along .1 was paid fifteen hundred dollars to tutor those two sons for the summer,
RS: Can you fix the year?
RO: 1935: They had a schloss outside of Salzburg and again it was a wonderful summer Strauss was there I was teaching boys, and I took them down the Danube to down to Budapest because I wanted to see a Vermeer painting there. Hitler came to power by that time in Germany. He’d come by to influence the Austrians. This was the scariest thing I’d ever seen in my entire life. Enormous pomp, banners, and bands and this was out on the plain, Hitler was going to speak that afternoon. There were these two Austrian girls who were servants in the schloss. They said they were going to go hear Hitler, and didn’t I want to go? So I got on my bike with them and
we rode about ten miles to this open flat place. There was this platform built up as I say banners flying and bands playing and must have been probably ten thousand people had gathered there. Finally up the stairs in the middle of the platform came this man came forward with a great deal saluting straight arm out. Then he began to speak and this hush fell over this crowd. The man started rather calmly. It grew louder and louder and finally this screaming coming out of that man. It was really just terrifying; it had a kind of diabolic quality to the thing. It was frightening the effect it was having on that crowd. The thing was over the, man went down the stairs, this Mercedes Benz and was driven off. We got back on our bicycles and even after riding ten miles back to the schloss, those two Austrian girls were still crying; they had been so moved by this thing. He just led into real misery. This was just a frightful force in what he was stating. Germany was to be this great land there was an evil quality just from this man. Nothing could compare to Stalin attacking England and France FDR was trying to get our destroyers over there to help England.
RS: When you got back here in 37. You didn’t go back to Hotchkiss to teach did you?
RO: No I did not. I went and got this small house down the road
RO: Came back here and I was doing nothing but painting and got this small house I say four rooms, very simple farm house
RS: Two thousand dollars?
RO: Two thousand dollars
RS: How many acres?
RO: Oh one by one and a quarter acres
RO: I was living on five hundred dollars a year for food and heat. I had to sell two paintings, two hundred fifty dollars apiece. Then I had it made for the year. Tried fishing down on that stream right down there. I was having a glorious time I was a bachelor.
RS: I just want to fix the place where the house was in Taconic?
RO: Yes it’s right done there where the road going down to Grassland Farm crosses Scoville Road is a little white house. The last time that house was sold I think it was a hundred and eighty seven thousand. I was painting good and hard. Not very effectively and I should have recognized it. Collected these paintings I happen to know Mary Rheinhart, the Mary Rheinhart down in New York. My mother had been a good friend of hers out in Wisconsin. In those days her name was Mary Rinehart. She was and her husband ran an art gallery in New York. I had been painting back here for maybe two or three no this is about now 1938. I took a hamper of paintings down to New York and showed them to her. She said.” you want to know? You want me to say the truth?” I said, “Oh yes of course.” she pointed out this is a sort of a copy of a Monet and a copy of a Cezanne and but not certainly not an Osborn. I was just imitating these men that I had learned about in France
RS: And found your own style
RO: Instead of my own, but she said it very frankly. It took me about 8 months to get over it. I went duck shooting with an old friend George Storm and to thank him for the good time we’d had, I drew sixteen pictures “How to Shoot Ducks” I knew quite a lot about duck shooting. The cartoon was just a letter with 16 good size cartoons. He showed that to another fellow who happened to know Tim Collard who owned Coward McCann and Tim Collard said, “Well, I think this is a book.
Do you know anything about trout fishing?” I said sure I know about trout fishing; so I made sixteen drawings about trout fishing. They said what about quail shooting I said, “I don’t know much about quail shooting but I know Emerson Quaile who lives down here, and he goes quail shooting down south I’ll ask him.” So Emerson told me all the different things that could happen. Never the less I had made a drawing of how to shoot quail. Here are these three small books about 5 inches by 7 inches. They were printed. They came out before Christmas: first thing I knew they sold 40 thousand copies. Well they just happened
RS: That’s a big
RO: To go, and they were only 75 cents apiece. This royalty check I hadn’t seen anything like that. That was very nice, and it was because of those books. When the war came, Mr. Agar sending me down to Washington said, “You take those three little cartoon books along, and I’ll send you some people that might be able to use you as a cartoonist.” That’s how that took place. If I hadn’t made those cartoon books, I don’t know what would have happened; whether I would have gotten that job or not?
RS: Dropping back a moment back to when you first came back to Hotchkiss was cartooning very popular in the United States?
RO: Oh yes it was, very,
RS: There were a lot of,
RO: Very distinctly so. You are I’m sure too young to remember the Old Life magazine. That was really very much like “Punch” in England but it was put together with cartoons. Robert Benchly wrote for it, and people like Mark Conner it was a humorous magazine that was put out once a week. There was another magazine called “Judge” That was not as good as “Life” but the same type of magazine with cartoons with two lines underneath. The Saturday Evening Post used occasionally cartoons. There were newspapers and funny newspapers. Some marvelous cartoonist working, in the news doing newspaper cartoons and the Sunday section, we all grabbed as kids, done in color. There was a very strong feeling this was an art and it was. Everybody could understand the cartoon. When I was young, I use to look at the cartoons in the Chicago Tribune, and I even use to send cartoon ideas. I was twelve years old; I’d send them to Briggs in drawing for the Chicago Tribune. Imagine my delight when the picture would come out; my idea only it said Clare Biggs blog RO on there. Things were much easier in those days for instance Harold Ross when I was at Yale, he use to write up to me at Yale and ask me to submit drawings, cartoons to The New Yorker. New Yorker magazine was just starting out and S.J. Perlman, a really funny man, told me that when he was at Brown, Wash use to write him. I was trying to earn money so I wasn’t going up to the Yale Harvard game. I was staying there in New Haven perfectly happy me but turning out these cartoons I would send them down to New York and darn it Ross back would come cartoons saying about this isn’t quite right, but I had three page letters somewhere up in there in the files at which he would criticize each drawing, but maybe devote fifteen lines of type writing saying this and this. Here’s this man is just a remarkable editor who is beckoning you on. Now if you went back to the New Yorker, I forgot what the figure is something, like twenty thousand cartoons come in there just steadily, and to establish yourself in that fast count would be awful. When I was coming along if you really had something, it’s quite easy going.
RS: In other words the opportunities were still open
RO: It was there. I think was true for people writing Carney’s magazine Saturday Evening Post, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, places Falkner, you could get coverage much easier. Wright brothers to the Concord, but in between wars you saw again a kind of nobility. Every once in a while you choose to behave on this
higher level, courageous, The humanity that you saw every now and then during the war this was one of the few good things about war, but as a whole period in watching America and the present activity of America
RS: Pulling together
RO: That’s right goodness it seems to me as somebody growing up now and not looking out on anything such as we saw. In those days and there was room out there to the West. You didn’t feel as down or depressing as people now, behaving almost like rats shut into a small box getting ready to attack one another. I just feel deeply grateful to have lived in that period. You could stay in France, see a civilized county and see the arts being respected there. The arts being respected in this country which has happened in the last say forty years. I just feel deeply grateful to have lived at this time, and not forty years later the way our sons have to live.
RS: I’m going to jump the gun a little here then and ask you what is it going to take to make America, America again. You know I sometimes speak at some of the colleges and I’m just flabbergasted it’s horrible the lake of relationship to even recent past history to say nothing of…
RO: Yes, yes you mean the fact that they don’t know history. I see this in our two sons. They are going to be able to make it they are full of hope. It just looks to me though it’s much, much more difficult, all young people are facing nowadays than what you and I faced out in San Francisco enormous ingenuity. Anytime America really has a true crisis, everybody does get going again and does perform, shows enormous imagination, He was saying it’s going to take a very real crisis to face the deficit and really take some strong actions. I was optimistic I was to Elodie the other day there are things that are becoming so complex and interwoven and interdependent that’s now true all the way around the world. Some folks with brilliant thought and brilliant action to unravel a lot of this mess. I think it’s safe to say that the Russians they are in such bad shape. Harrison Salisbury said the other day in another twenty thirty years they could well be a second rate power since the economy is going so badly.
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