BY-WAYS - 5-1-41 - "There are metal nuts that twist on threaded bolts…"
There are metal nuts that twist on threaded bolts;
There are nuts to tighten strings on violins.
There's an "indehiscent polycarpellary" -
(Sounds like "hissing carp" - but has no fins -
It's just a (single-seeded fruit, like hazel-nut).
Now comes the family of nuts we like to eat -
Brazil nut, almond, peanut, walnut, and pecan;
But "nuts to crack" now constitute a mental feat.
A nut may be a drinking cup of coconut,
A tumbler of a gunlock (ally of the fighter);
A pivoted steel piece (or bone) on stock of crossbow. -
Finally, a nut may be a column writer.
It must be so. Because - only last week - a letter came that referred to "nutty ravings" in the Press by one F.B.T. - and could it be I? Remember the loved old song, "Learn a little every day"? Well, aren't we learning? At first, that "crack" was a jolt to my dignity. I felt the adrenalin oozing out (or whatever it is that pours out of your glands when you are angry). Then I suddenly remembered the advice of the late Dwight L. Morrow, our former (and inimitable) ambassador to Mexico. "Don't take yourself too d---d, seriously." That motto is like a "governor" on my emotions. As I went on into the letter, I found that advice was exactly what my correspondent was putting across. Long before the letter was finished I forgave the writer the preliminary dig - for it's "just her way;" under all the wise-cracking and sophistication is real tenderness for those who need it. Besides, she gave me a generous supply of information about old I.S.N.S. (Indiana) students whom I knew.
I am speaking (on paper) of Grace Neville Kalloch, of Pittsburgh, who used to live with her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Will Armstrong, on the farm which, for so long, was Mother Lytle's home. How the memories came crowding in! Mrs. Armstrong, one of the kindest of women ... Hector, the family dog ... Grace, trying to make a companion out of me, but finding me hopelessly dull and countrified. How I envied her her wit, her chic, her verve! Although Grace never really liked me, I wouldn''t have missed the stimulus of her companionship. Two "fighting" chemicals (say an acid and a base) when put together, create a new compound. Two clashing personalities, when thrown together, often create a new idea - and a good one.
Speaking of stimulating companionship, I must, at this point, pay tribute to one of the most stimulating friends I ever had. That is Marjorie Rose, Titian's sister. Marjorie is gifted with scintillating wit - but I can't remember that she ever used it as a weapon. She has a way of sweeping all the cobwebs out of one's brain. I am indebted to her for some of the most delightful excursions - on horseback - or in her home - that I have ever known. ***
What what of the nuts? Thinking over the writers I have know, most of them have a screw loose somewhere. The first writer brought to my attention was Nellie Bly, the newspaper woman, who challenged her editor to send her on a record trip around the world. She made the record - in the then amazing time of eighty days. (That was in the early 1890's, I believe). The attendant publicity brought out the story of her early life, and childhood pranks. When I took a notion - one hot night - to make my bed in the straw stack, and had Ellis hunting everywhere for me, the family shook their respective heads - all but Aunt Caroline, who said, "Maybe you are going to be another Nellie Bly." And even the finding of a huge black-snake in my erstwhile bed, three mornings later, did not shake her faith in "that screwy kid." Well, I will never be another Nellie Bly; but I would like to take a trip around the world - piloting my own airplane. As for other writers, Amy Lowell smoked cigars; Mark Twain had an amazing vocabulary of profanity, which he would use over such trifles as the loss of a collar button; many, many of our best writers were and are subject to fits of melancholy; Lewis Carroll, the brilliant scholar, was considered quite silly when he wrote "Alice in Wonderland." Look at Gelett Burgess and Ogden Nash! But are they cashing in on their "nuttiness!"
In our own little writers' club, made up of amateurs, we have some "queer" ones. In fact, one or two are pixillated. We have one man in the club - our treasurer, year after year. One woman - a widow - is in love with him. Our most charming member is a maiden lady, now 75 years old. She is so quaint. She will announce that she needs help. She's writing a story, and has her heroine in a fix, and can't get her out of it. We don't dare cast aspersions on the nursing profession in any story. She was a nurse - and a grand one, I am sure. I would like to tell you about more of them. But it is mail time - and I must close.
Florence B. Taylor
South Euclid, Ohio
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