Literary Lampoons Part II: Golf and Politics – Not Quite Death and Taxes, but Close

Special note: This blog post was written by Edward Reges, M.A. ‘16, East Carolina University Department of English, as part of a special series highlighting the Stuart Wright Collection.

Sometimes, the lives of authors can seem as distant to us as the hole on a long, hazardous par 5. One need only peer into a literary anthology to find oneself immersed in a strange world of antiquated terms, ideas, and even settings. Take John Updike’s renowned short story “A&P,” for example. In the story, a young man makes a rash decision to leave his job after his manager forces three young women, clad in only two-piece bathing suits, to leave the store. “What’s an A&P?” I recall a classmate of mine inquiring in a class discussion of our assigned readings. The question was not a literal one; we had all read the story and could draw from context what the A&P was. Rather, it was a commentary on how rapidly change occurs and how quickly our memories can glaze over what was once a staple of our predecessor’s culture. The short story, written just over 50 years ago, takes place in what was at the time one of the largest supermarket chains in the United States. Now the mere existence of a supermarket other than Wal-Mart, Target, or even K-Mart (which may be antiquated as you are reading this article) is the stock of a joke playing on our short-term view of existence. (For those seeking more information about A&P supermarkets, the company’s website has an interesting history section.)

Likewise, authors and poets of yesteryear seem accordingly distant from us. Creators of fiction such as John Updike seem to be of a different breed. A breed that survived and even thrived without all of the technology we now take for granted. These authors have an air of mythos: an air that a bit of digging in a literary archive, however, proves unwarranted.
Nestled away in the Stuart Wright Collection at Joyner Library are windows into the lives of these very human authors of yesteryear. While Updike is known for his writing prowess, he was not born a writer or a historical character; he was born a man. A man who, incidentally, once aspired to doodle for a living. Several original pen-and-ink drawings as well as Updike’s newspaper copies of published cartoons found their home in the collection of Stuart Wright, Updike’s friend and golfing companion. They are now available for view in the North Carolina Collections area on the third floor of Joyner Library.

Looking through these inked drawings, the difference between our predecessors and us seems to shrink. One of Updike’s cartoons references a troubling time in U.S. History. Following WWII, Germany was divided amongst the allies into East and West Germany. The nation’s capital, Berlin, located in Soviet occupied East Germany, was likewise divided. The situation grew tense when East Germany denied land access between West Germany and West Berlin. A decade later, President Eisenhower found himself in a rough situation when the Soviets demanded that western allied forces leave Berlin:

Updike, John. “The Rough.” Undated. Stuart Wright Collection. Stuart Wright Collection. J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.

Compare this to a modern political cartoon depicting President Obama sinking into the sand trap of world crisis:

Varvel, Gary. “Obama, golf, and world crisis.” Cartoon. Indystar. Gannett, 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014 http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/cartoons/2014/08/28/cartoonist-gary-varvel-obama-golf-world-crises/14755671

Varvel, Gary. “Obama, golf, and world crisis.” Cartoon. Indystar. Gannett, 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014
http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/cartoons/2014/08/28/cartoonist-gary-varvel-obama-golf-world-crises/14755671

As you can see, the pastime of golf serves as a bridge between the distant past and present, if not in reality then at least in political cartoons. As Updike used humor and a pastime to voice his concern about political affairs, so do those of us in modern society.
Updike’s love for golf proves to be an unexpectedly relevant part of ECU’s collection of his materials. This is evidenced in Stuart Wright’s personal copy of “Golf Dreams,” complete with a dedication to Wright from the author himself. Tucked away in the pages one finds a number of letters expressing Updike’s delight in playing the game and his companionship with Wright. Several scorecards record the friendship match by match.

Updike, John. Untitled Scorecard. Ludlow Addition to Stuart Wright Collection. Stuart Wright Collection. J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C. 22 May 1987

As you can see, John Updike was not just some far away author creating literature to enjoy from a detached modern viewpoint. He was a man who could revel in a game of golf to the point of solidifying his appreciation of the contest on the scorecard: “what a match!” More cartoons, bridges to the present and past, and glimpses into Updike’s life can be located and requested by using the Special Collections Finding Aid to his papers.

Alumni Day 1968

Source:  University Archives Image Collection (UA55-01-9775)

Staff Person:  Arthur Carlson

Description:  This image from the University Archives features the layout of J.Y. Joyner Library on Alumni Day in 1968.  Joyner Library was dedicated on March 8, 1955 as part of that year’s Founder’s Day celebrations.  The growing student body forced campus administrators to add air conditioning and two additional floors in 1964. From 1994-1999, a third major renovation added the rounded tower and Sonic Plaza which make Joyner among the most recognizable buildings on campus.  Its namesake, James Yadkin Joyner, was a career educator and served as state Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1902-1919.  He was instrumental in the modernization of the North Carolina public school system.

USS Sarda (SS488)

Source: USS Sarda entering Havana, Cuba  Call Number: 818.os1.1

Staff Person: Ken Harbit

Description:

USS Sarda (SS-488), was a Tench-class submarine.  Financed by bonds purchased by the residents of Lynn, Massachusetts, her keel was laid down on 12 April 1945 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. She was launched on 24 August 1945 sponsored by Mrs. Heffernan, the wife of James J. Heffernan, Congressman from New York.

Because World War II had ended a few weeks before the submarine’s launch, a new decision whether to commission or scrap her had to be made. Sarda’s prospective commanding officer grew frustrated with the debate over the fate of his boat. During the months of waiting, he received a small plaque from his father inscribed Illegitimi non Carborundum — “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Up.” After a a hard won fight by her prospective commanding officer, Sarda was commissioned on 19 April 1946 with Commander Chester W. Nimitz, Jr., son of the famous Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, in command.

During the period between launching and commissioning, Sarda, was no longer needed for wartime service. Because of this, her conning tower was made bigger to permit installation of experimental equipment. After commissioning, she conducted her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean Sea, then returned north to commence experimental work out of New London, Connecticut. There, she joined Submarine Division (SubDiv) 22 of Submarine Squadron 2; and, for the next four years, she tested new equipment for the Underwater Sound Laboratory, Fort Trumbull, and evaluated new ship control procedures. In the fall of 1949, she was transferred to SubDiv 21, and her primary mission was shifted from test and evaluation work to training ship duties. She continued that work through the 1950s, interrupting it only for type training; mine planting exercises; ASW exercises; fleet exercises; occasional participation in NATO or joint United States-Canadian exercises off the coasts of the Atlantic Provinces and northern New England; and, from January to June 1957, operations in the Caribbean Sea and the Guiana and Brazilian basins for the Hydrographic Office. On her return, she resumed her primary function, training submarine school students.

In the early 1960s, she continued her training mission, but devoted more time to providing services to ASW units conducting exercises. During the winter of 1960, she provided services to 92 surface ships and 14 air squadrons participating in annual training exercises in the Caribbean. During the winter of 1962, she again returned to the Caribbean for an extended stay and, when not employed in servicing Atlantic Fleet air and surface ASW units, she tested and evaluated acoustical torpedoes. The following winter, 1963, she deployed to the Mediterranean Sea where she operated with the Sixth Fleet; and, on her return to New London in late May, she resumed school ship duties.

Eleven months later, Sarda was declared to be surplus to Navy needs. May 1964 was spent in port at New London preparing for inactivation; and, on 1 June, Sarda was decommissioned. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on the same day, and her hulk was sold for scrapping in March 1965.

Though she never saw combat action she is just as much an asset to the Navy and America as any combat unit. She tested new equipment, brought about new and better combat techniques, new ways of fleet-wide communication and collaboration, and most importantly of all, she trained those who did go into harms way.

Sadie Hawkins Day Race

Source:  University Archives Visual Materials Collection

Staff Person:  Arthur Carlson

Description: This photo from the University Archives shows East Carolina students participating in a 1953 Sadie Hawkins Day Race (UA55-01-4841). By tradition, on Sadie Hawkins Day girls ask boys to accompany them to a dance or on a date. The event originated in 1937 with the comic strip Li’l Abner when the town spinster, Sadie Hawkins, is sent in pursuit of the town’s eligible bachelors as they raced to avoid marriage to the “homeliest gal in the hills.”  The gender-based role reversal proved popular among female college students as Sadie Hawkins Day events rose in popularity across the nation. By 1952, Sadie Hawkins Day events were held in over 40,000 locations.  In this image, Fleming and Wilson Dormitories are on the right and the Old Cafeteria Complex is just visible on the left. The large building in the center rear is the original Austin classroom building.

UA55-01-4841

Presidential Candidate John Kennedy

My first thought when viewing this picture was about how the times have changed. This is Presidential Candidate John Kennedy riding in a motorcade on his way to an ECU rally. You would not see that today. Today important people travel in bullet proof limousines. I remember his campaign, and am saddened by what happened to him and his brother. BTW that’s a 1960 Mercury Monterey convertible that he’s riding in, and the car in front is a 1959 Cadillac (note the distinctive “fin” just to the left of center at the bottom).

U.S.S. South Dakota

USS South Dakota

 

Special Collections Reference: VA 63 .S72 1972

The USS South Dakota was the first of a group of fast battleships built under 1939 fiscal year appropriations just prior to World War II. The other vessels in her class were: Indiana, Massachusetts and Alabama. The USS South Dakota was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey and was launched on 7 June 1941 and commissioned on 20 March 1942. The South Dakota class vessels had nine 16-inch guns mounted in triple turrets. After commissioning she served in the Pacific where she promptly ran aground on a coral reef and had to go to Peal Harbor for repairs. At the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal she suffered a massive power failure and was out of action while receiving 42 topside hits. At this point the South Dakota returned to New York for repairs, after which she joined the British Home fleet for a period before returning to the Pacific again operating as a carrier escort. She ended the war in Tokyo Bay at the surrender of Japan. She was sold for scrap in 1962. Two sister ships remain as museums: Massachusetts and Alabama.

The C. Heber Forbes Store

Source: East Carolina Manuscript Collection, #741

C. Heber Forbes

C. Heber Forbes

Staff Person: Coleen Allen

Description:

This image dated March 30, 1960, is of the window displays from the C. Heber Forbes Store which was known for its high quality up-to-date ladies fashions. The store was originally located on Evans Street for many years. The owner, C. Heber Forbes, lived on Cotanche Street. His beautiful home and its breath-taking landscape was demolished for the location of what is now McDonald’s facing Tenth Street.

Source: Digital Collections, Joyner Library, ECU: http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/4575

Queen City Coach Company Letter, October 16, 1944

Source: Herbert Floyd Seawell, Jr. Papers, East Carolina Manscript Collection #496

Letter from Queen City Coach Company, Charlotte, NC

Letter from Queen City Coach Company, Charlotte, NC

Staff Person: Dale Sauter

Description:

In general, modern letterheads are not as ornate or colorful as they used to be. Perhaps one reason is that in today’s world we do not rely on actual letters as much for communication, and the minor details are considered unimportant. Yet, ironically, with today’s technology, it tends to be easier to design elaborate and colorful letterhead. With the existence of a large interest in advertising history, these letters serve as great historical artifacts, as well as great artistic statements. In a related note, for information on the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing at Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, see the link below.

http://library.duke.edu/specialcollections/hartman/index.html

Today’s staff pick is a letter from Queen City Coach Company, Charlotte, N.C., to Seawell & Seawell, Attorneys at Law, Carthage, N.C., dated October 16, 1944. In the letter, the coach company’s baggage agent is writing the attorneys to inform them that a customer’s lost baggage has been found and will be returned to her. For more information on the Seawell, Jr., Papers or any other collections we hold, please contact us for further details.

Click on the image itself to see an enlarged version.

Prohibition Propaganda Broadside, Circa 1908

Source: Getsinger Family Papers, East Carolina Manuscript Collection, #172

Staff Person: Dale Sauter

Description:

February 20th, 2008, will mark the 75th anniversary of the proposal by Congress of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution. This Amendment brought about the repeal of Prohibtion in the United States. The amendment was fully ratified on December 5th, 1933, by 36 states. It was eventually ratified by all states except South Carolina.

Prohibition in the United States (making illegal the manufacture, sale, or transportation of liquors) was initially accomplished by the proposal of The Eighteenth Amendment on December 18th, 1917. This amendment was fully ratified on January 16th, 1919, by 36 states. It was eventually ratified by all states except Rhode Island. This amendment is notable as the only amendment to the Constitution that has been repealed. Prohibition didn’t officially go into effect until January 16th, 1920. A summary of the law can be found below.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_ United States

For more information, on Prohibition, please refer to the source above.

For information on the Getsinger Family Papers or any other collections we hold, please contact us for further details.

To view an enlarged version of the image, click on the image itself.

Henry Corbin Diary

Source: Guide to the Henry Corbin Papers, 1863-1864, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #161

Henry Corbin Diary

Henry Corbin Diary

Staff Person: Lynette Lundin

Description:

Henry Corbin was a Fourth Sergeant in Company B of the 23rd Virginia Cavalry. He served with General Jubal A. Early in the Shenandoah Valley. His diary documents his activities from April 20, 1863, up until September 22, 1864, when he was killed at the battle of Fisher Hill. He also participated in the battles of Lynchburg, Monacacy and Winchester. The pages you see here were recorded right before he was killed. Click on the image to see additional pages that explain how the diary was found. Special Collections has other related manuscript collections such as the following: #246 Guide to the A.F. Williams Diary, #283 Guide to the New Bern Historical Society Collection, #338 Guide to the William W. Perry Diary and #537 Guide to the J.C. Hines Papers. More information about this collection can be obtained by going to Manuscript Collection 161

Click on the image to see an enlarged version.