BY-WAYS - 10/30/39 - Alec Templeton. More from the Mailbag.

What a change from last Sunday! Not a leaf is left on the maple tree that was all red and gold a week ago. And my mind, that was bursting with ideas a week ago seems as barren today as that maple tree. I hope that what I say won't be just a rustling among dead leaves.

But now for the Mailbag. If only more of you had written, to save the day for me! An old friend "back home," who wishes to remain anonymous writes: "How I did enjoy the letter in the Press from James Lytle! How well I remember him as my teacher when I was just a kid! My tears always lay near the surface when I was a youngster; and how kind and gentle he was with me." Let me add that he was my teacher, too - that same year. Somehow he was always setting me apart - in majestic solitude, up in the corner. But I have long since forgiven him. We walked home from school together; and he taught me to watch, to listen to, and to love the little wood creatures. I feel he is still my teacher; for he has sent me the finest article for Armistice week. Please read it next week. Mrs. Charlotte M. McCall postcards from Orange City, Fla., (to torment us all): "Here I am in Sunny Florida and plenty warm. Enjoy reading the Press each week. Saw cotton picking at its height on my way down, and the poor colored women seem to have most of it to do. I felt like helping them - the task seemed too great."

Now for a few echoes from Town Hall, where I heard Lord Marley, of London, and Alec Templeton, formerly of Wales and London, but now definitely of U.S.A. Lord Marley was cited for bravery in the World War, and bears the Distinguished Service Medal. Although I revere him for what he has done for his country, I could not help thinking that he would never win a medal for oratory. I believe his attitude toward the present war is typically English - calm, undisturbed, and utterly unwavering. He says that "if we can hold out another six months, we shall have won the war." He made it very clear that he is not spreading propaganda to draw the United States into the war. "Mass means massacre," he said and intimated that England and France can get along very well without us. He assured us that the sinking of an English battleship should cause no alarm, because one large battleship represents about two per cent of their navy strength, where it would mean about fifteen per cent of Germany's fleet. He reminded us that it is imperative that England keep up her sea power, for she is so dependent on imports of food. 50,000 tons of food are shipped into England daily. He considers Hitler's pact with Stalin a colossal error on Hitler's part, and believes that Stalin is quite far-seeing, and plans the Bolshevization of Europe. Lord Marley opened his talk with what I should consider his "punch line." He said that when the Powers met at Versailles, after the World War, a spirit voice was missing that should have been allowed to speak - the voice of George Washington, who had the wisdom to foresee the necessity for united colonies - under one flag and one government.

It was a rare treat to see and hear Alec Templeton, the blind pianist - so serious an artist, and so clever a comedian! In the first part of his recital he played the music of the masters - Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Mozart, Chopin. Never have I heard more exquisite phrasing, to express the sometimes subtle and sometimes violent change of mood. It is amazing how a sightless person can play those difficult compositions without an error. Of course I cannot pose as a music critic; but there were plenty in the audience who were competent judges; and they were enthusiastic in their praise of him. The second part of his program was decidedly informal, and intended, as he said, "for those who do not take their music so seriously." He said that if those old masters were living now - and were gifted with a sense of humor, they would like our modern "swing" music. So he brought Mendelsohn down to date. Even the stern old dowagers who looked as if they had come for the express purpose of protecting their ancient idols from desecration, had to break down and laugh. Perhaps it was because Alec Templeton proved, early in the program, that he, too, loves the masters. Walter Damrosch has proven his good sportsmanship and grand sense of humor in giving Alec permission to imitate him in a burlesque of his music appreciation hour. The "fee ittie fishes fam" away with all the honors, as far as hilarious laughter is concerned. The cleverest thing he did was to take five notes, called out at random from the audience, and build around those five notes a delightful, melodious composition. You will wonder at it when I tell you the notes, F sharp, B flat, C, A flat, and D. He also took four songs, picked at random, and blended them in a marvelous way. At one point he was playing "Moon Love" with his left hand, and "Yankee Doodle" with his right. Needless to say, he brought down the house. He was having so much fun that he kept us for two hours; and only the luncheon engagement stopped him. I envied those who could go on with him to the luncheon (too expensive) where he would give a talk and answer questions. My day, nevertheless, was rich and full - for I went right from there to read a report for a blind woman, who is quite as remarkable in her field as Alec Templeton is in his. She not only teaches the blind how to read, and the blind women how to sew, but she teaches seeing people how to write Braille, so that they may transcribe the printed page into the magic array of raised dots that constitute the Braille books for the blind. This year her little group of unselfish, tireless volunteer workers Brailled 164 volumes, or 42 complete books.

Now I must close; I do trust my "reporting" hasn't bored you.

With best wishes, I am, Sincerely yours,
Florence B. Taylor

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