Monday, March 31, 2003

[3/31/2011] Part 2 of "The Young Immigrunts" -- Still en route to "Shut up he explained" (continued)


"Wasnt it funny that we should happen to see Mrs. Heywood in Utica said my mother at lenth.

"They live there dont they my father replid.

"Why yes my mother replid.

"Well then my father replid the real joke would of been if we had of happened to see her in Auburn."

-- from Chapter 6 of "The Young Immigrunts"

Just a reminder of the Lardner family chronology. In 1919, when the great eastward migration took place, the ages of the four sons of Ring and Ellis Lardner were: John, 7; James, 5; Ring Jr., 4; and David, just recently born. in his book The Lardners, Ring Jr. tells us that The Young Immigrunts --

was factually based on the automobile trip Ring and Ellis took with John, aged seven, while we three younger boys traveled by train with Miss Feldman. But Ring, wanting to tell the story from a child's standpoint and still have the sales value of his own name on the book, transferred me to the car and John to the train so the work could be credited to "Ring W. Lardner, Jr. -- With a Preface by the Father." The fact that I was only four also served to broaden his parody of a current book, The Young Visiters, that was attributed to a nine-year-old English girl, Daisy Ashford, with an introduction by J. M. Barrie. Ring obviously felt that Barrie or some other adult writer had contributed more than editorial supervision.

The Young Immigrunts is a skillful parody that also stands up by itself, and though most of its admirers have been aware it was making fun of another book, few have found it necessary to read the original. When you do, two interesting things emerge. One is the thoroughness of the parody: Ring adopted Miss Ashford's style in considerable detail with mild exaggerations.

[Substantial excerpts from both books are offered.]

The other revelation to the Lardner fan is how risqué for its time Miss Ashford's book is. Its humor, quite unconscious if you accept it (and I do) as the work of a preadolescent, depends a good deal on the author's innocence concerning the sexual matters she deals with, and I believe this slightly salacious flavor ofFended Ring's prudishness and made him overly suspicious of how such a deplorable effect had been achieved.

For me this answers a bunch of questions. As you can guess, this theme of his father's prudishness is a constant for Ring Jr. In addition, he's unquestionably right about "the thoroughness of the parody" of Daisy Ashford's The Young Visiters, and I think perhaps tomorrow night we'll take a look at the sample of the latter he presents. I think you'll find it uncannily familiar.

By the way, in the book Ring Jr. says clearly that his own memories begin in Greenwich, and so for earlier events he's dependent on family sources.

For now, we still have a long way to go if we hope to get to Grenich Conn by tomorrow night. Here, then, is --

The Young Immigrunts
Part 2 of 3

Chapter 6


Soon we was on Genesee st in Syracuse but soon turned off a blk or 2 and puled up in front of a hotel that I cant ether spell or pronounce besides witch they must of been a convention of cheese sculpters or something stoping there and any way it took the old man a hour to weedle a parler bed room and bath out of the clerk and put up a cot for me.

Wilst we was enjoying a late and futile supper in the hotel dinning room a man named Duffy reckonized my father and came to our table and arsked him to go to some boxing matchs in Syracuse that night.

Thanks very much said my father with a slite sneeze but you see what I have got on my hands besides witch I have been driveing all day and half to start out again erly in the morning so I guess not.

Between you and I dear reader my old man has been oposed to pugilisms since the 4 of July holycost. [The reference, again, is to the championship bout in which Jack Dempsey knocked out Jess Willard to claim the heavyweight title. Ring, who routinely bet on sporting events he was covering as a sportswriter and felt it didn't affect his reportorial objectivity, had bet on Willard. -- Ed.]

Who is that man arsked my mother when that man had gone away.

Mr. Duffy replid my father shove the ketchup over this way.

Yes I know he is Mr. Duffy but where did you meet him insisted my mother quaintly.

In Boston my father replid where would a person meet a man named Duffy.

When we got up the next morning it was 6 o'clock and purring rain but we eat a costly brekfus and my father said we would save time if we would all walk down to the garage where he had horded the car witch he stated was only 2 short blks away from the hotel. Well if it was only 2 short blks why peaple that lives next door to each other in Syracuse are by no means neighbors and when we got there the entire party was soping wet and rarther rabid.

We will all catch our death of cold chuckled my mother.

What of it explained my old man with a dirty look at the sky.

Maybe we would better put up the curtains sugested my mother smirking.

Maybe we wouldnt too said my father cordialy.

Well maybe it will clear up said my mother convulsively.

Maybe it wont too replid my father as he capered into the drivers seat.

My father is charming company wilst driveing on strange roads through a purring rain and even when we past through Oneida and he pronounced it like it was a biscuit neither myself or my mother ventured to correct him but finely we reached Utica when we got to witch we puled up along side the kerb and got out and rang ourselfs out to a small extent when suddenly a closed car sored past us on the left.

Why that was Mrs. Heywood in that car explained my mother with a fierce jesture. By this time it was not raining and we got back into the car and presently over took the closed car witch stoped when they reckonized us.

And witch boy is this quired Mrs. Heywood when the usual compliments had been changed.

This is the third he is named for his father replid my mother forceing a smile.

He has his eyes was the comment. Bill dont you remember Mrs. Heywood said my mother turning on me she use to live in Riverside and Dr. Heywood tended to you that time you had that slite atack of obesity.

Well yes I replid with a slite accent but did not add how rotten the medicine tasted that time and soon we was on Genesee st on our way out of Utica.

I wander why they dont name some of their sts Genesee in these eastren towns said my father for the sun was now shining but no sooner had we reached Herkimer when the clouds bersed with renude vigger and I think my old man was about to say we will stop here and have lunch when my mother sugested it herself.

No replid my father with a corse jesture we will go on to Little Falls.

It was raining cats and dogs when we arived at Little Falls and my father droped a quaint remark.

If Falls is a verb he said the man that baptized this town was a practicle joker.

We will half to change our close replid my mother steping into a mud peddle in front of the hotel with a informal look.

When we had done so we partook of a meger lunch and as it was now only drooling resumed our jurney.

They soked me 5 for that room said my father but what is a extra sokeing or 2 on a day like this.

I didnt mean for you to get a room said my mother violently.

Where did you want us to change our close on the register said my old man turning pail.

Wasnt it funny that we should happen to see Mrs. Heywood in Utica said my mother at lenth.

They live there dont they my father replid.

Why yes my mother replid.

Well then my father replid the real joke would of been if we had of happened to see her in Auburn.

A little wile latter we past a grate many signs reading dine at the Big Nose Mountain Inn.

Rollie Zeider never told me they had named a mountain after him crid my father and soon we past through Fonda.

Soon we past through Amsterdam and I guess I must of dosed off at lease I cant remember anything between there and Schenectady and I must apologize to my readers for my laps as I am unable to ether describe the scenery or report anything that may of been said between these 2 points but I recall that as we entered Albany a remark was adrest to me for the first time since lunch.

Bill said my mother with a ½ smirk this is Albany the capital of New York state.

So this is Albany I thorght to myself.

Who is governor of New York now arsked my mother to my father.

Smith replid my father who seams to know everything.

Queer name said my mother sulkily.

Soon we puled up along side a policeman who my father arsked how de we get acrost the river to the New York road and if Albany pays their policemans by the word I'll say we were in the presents of a rich man and by the time he got through it was dark and still drooling and my old man didnt know the road and under those conditions I will not repete the conversation that transpired between Albany and Hudson but will end my chapter at the city limits of the last named settlemunt.

Chapter 7


We were turing gaily down the main st of Hudson when a man of 12 years capered out from the side walk and hoped on the runing board.

Do you want a good garage he arsked with a dirty look.

Why yes my good man replid my father tenderly but first where is the best hotel.

I will take you there said the man.

I must be a grate favorite in Hudson my father wispered at my mother.

Soon foiling the mans directions we puled up in front of a hotel but when my father went at the register the clerk said I am full tonight.

Where do you get it around here arsked my father tenderly.

We have no rooms replid the senile clerk paying no tension to my old mans remark but there is a woman acrost the st that takes loggers.

Not to excess I hope replid my father but soon we went acrost the st and the woman agrede to hord us for the night so myself and mother went to our apartmunts wilst my father and the 12 year old besought the garage. When we finley got reunited and went back to the hotel for supper it was past 8 oclock as a person could of told from the viands. Latter in front of our loggings we again met the young man who had welcomed us to Hudson and called my father to 1 side.

There is a sailer going to spend the night here he said in a horse wisper witch has walked all the way from his home Schenectady and he has got to report on his ship in New York tomorrow afternoon and has got no money so if he dont get a free ride he will be up vs it.

He can ride with us replid my father with a hiccup if tomorrow is anything like today a sailer will not feel out of place in my costly moter.

I will tell him replid the man with a corse jesture. Will you call us at ½ past 5 my mother reqested to our lanlady as we entered our Hudson barracks.

I will if I am awake she replid useing her handkerchief to some extent.

Latter we wandered how anybody could help from being awake in that hot bed of mones and grones and cat calls and caterwauls and gulish screaks of all kinds and tho we had rose erly at Syracuse and had a day of retchedness we was all more than ready to get up when she wraped on our door long ere day brake.

Where is that sailer that stoped here last night quired my father as we was about to make a lordly outburst.

He wouldnt pay his bill and razed hell so I kicked him out replid the lanlady in her bear feet.

Without farther adieu my father payed his bill and we walked into the dismul st so I will end this chapter by leaveing the fare lanlady flaping in the door way in her sredded night gown.

TOMORROW NIGHT in Part 3 of "The Young Immigrunts": Our migrants finally make it to the Bureau of Manhattan, but that's not their final destination. They still have to find Grenitch Conn, where there new home is, and that final leg of the journey proves surprisingly difficult.




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