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03.09.2015
The struggle between neutrality and those who believe Britaina€™s war is our war too intensifies during the summer of 1940, with American heroes like the eighty-year-old General John a€?Black Jacka€? Pershing speaking out insistently on behalf of aid to Britain. 1940 is an election year, and President Roosevelt, seeking an untraditional third term in the White House, is hesitant to support Churchilla€™s Britain too strongly as he faces the most serious opponent of his lifetime, Republican dark horse Wendell Willkie whom many Americans like and admire. FDRa€™s alter ego Harry Hopkins is one of the administrationa€™s most controversial figuresa€”part New Deal champion, part political hack.
A warm glow spread through me, and I was ready to climb off my high horse, but now Hopkins was frowning.
I had one thing left to do: cancel my New School course and apologize to the students I was leaving in the lurch.
I got a platter of doughnuts for my students and explained the situation as they showed up.
Chamberlain returned home to a sensational welcome, waving a scrap of paper he called a€?peace with honor, peace in our time.a€? Churchill called it unmitigated defeat.
His words thrilled me, but Charles Lindbergh, a universal hero if we had one at the time, called for neutrality instead, and flew to Nazi Germany for a red-carpet tour of the Luftwaffe that had been poised to bomb Paris and London. For the next few years Lindbergh will be neutralitya€™s champion, and the leading spokesman for the isolationist a€?America Firsta€? movement opposing U.S. Chamberlaina€™s policy of appeasement has failed abysmally, but the a€?phony wara€? he reluctantly declares on Germany neither saves the Poles nor incommodes the Germans for the next eight months. On the afternoon of August 22nda€”the news of the German-Russian treaty had arrived that morninga€”Paul White of the news department of the Columbia Broadcasting System called Elmer Davis on the telephone.
Elmer Davis had continued to warn the public about the dangers ahead in articles like a€?We Lose the Next Wara€? in the March a€™38 Harpera€™s. The proposal for a popular referendum on the declaration of war implies a growing conviction that the people themselves should make the ultimate decision of international politics; but to make it intelligently we need to know more about the cost of wara€”and about the cost of trying to remain at peace in a world at war.
There, set down twelve years ago, is a preview of the history of Europe after Municha€”a Europe which at the end of 1938 stands about where it stood at the end of 1811, with this difference: In 1811 England was not only the implacable but the impregnable enemy of the man who dominated the Continent. 1939 passes with Americans mainly at the movies, though, in what will go down as their best year ever.
There is a vast difference between keeping out of war, and pretending that this war is none of our business. When Hitler invades the Low Countries and France, driving the British Army to the Channel, a new Prime Minister takes office, Winston Churchill. The stranger will never become a Baker Street Irregular, but he has come to New York on a wartime mission that will change Woodya€™s life. Churchill, overage and once-scorned maverick politician out of another era, seems to mean it, too. In New York, where much of Americaa€™s public opinion is made, unmade, and remade, two years of uneasy peace and agitation following the outbreak of war in Europe make for a turbulent climate, but one in which Mr. Elmer Davis has some ideas about that last item, though he isna€™t prepared to share them with Chris Morley yet. Woodya€™s afternoon is not over, as Elmer Davis takes them from Christopher Morleya€™s shabby hideaway office on West 47th Street to the magnificence of his own club on West 43rd.
In the distance, beyond Fifth Avenue rushing by a stonea€™s throw away, lay Grand Central and the Chrysler Building rising beyond it. In Western Europe, the a€?phony wara€? smoldered through the winter of 1939-40, but with spring, Hitler invaded Norway and Sweden, and his blitzkrieg started its blast through Holland, Belgium and France. By mid-May, Ia€™d begun organizing a National Policy Committee meeting to be held June 29-30 under the title, Implications to the U.S. Beneath the ancient oak trees on Pickens Hill, we sat in a circle, each giving in turn his or her reaction to the very present danger of a Nazi conquest of Britain. Whitney Shepardson retired to Francisa€™ study and emerged with a brief declaration we called a€?A Summons To Speak Out.a€? Next day, Francis and I compiled a cross-country list of some hundred names to whom we sent the statement, inviting signatures. On the previous Friday, just before giving our release to the press for Monday's papers, I had telephoned Morse Salisbury at the Department of Agriculture: a€?Get me off the payroll this afternoon.
Woody, Elmer Davis, and Fletcher Pratt bring the BSI into the Century Groupa€™s proposal for the United States to exchange fifty mothballed World War I destroyers desperately needed by Britain for air and naval bases on British territories in the New World, a deal proposed by FDR before the disastrous summer is out, as the Battle of Britain begins.
The Century Association continues today, but two venues that have disappeared are also part of this chapter. Largely forgotten today, Billy the Oysterman was a Manhattan institution at the time, though West 47th Street was a second and newer location. The midtown Billy the Oysterman opened in the a€™Thirties and was managed very personably by Billy Ockendon Jr. In contrast to the original location, the West 47th Street Billy the Oysterman was an attractively modern place, with Walrus and the Carpenter murals on the walls. The other is Pennsylvania Station at Seventh Avenue and West 33rd, torn down in 1964 thanks to developersa€™ greed, but whose destruction led to preservation of many other architectural and historical landmarks in New York. A A A  A warm glow spread through me, and I was ready to climb off my high horse, but now Hopkins was frowning. Many Americans are relieved by the avoidance of war, but how tautly nerves are stretched becomes clear when the Halloween War of the Worlds broadcast by Orson Wellesa€™ Mercury Theater of the Air panics radio listeners from coast to coast. A A A  His words thrilled me, but Charles Lindbergh, a universal hero if we had one at the time, called for neutrality instead, and flew to Nazi Germany for a red-carpet tour of the Luftwaffe that had been poised to bomb Paris and London. British Armya€™s hair-raising evacuation at DunkirkA  to avoid destruction or surrender, he was sent by Winston Churchill to New York with a top-secret job description emphasizing finding ways to circumvent the U.S.
Preface Adaline Pates Potter, known to all as Pates (pate eze) came to Mount Holyoke College from western Pennsylvania with the firm, if romantic, intention of majoring in French and joining the US Consular Service on graduation. She blamed her inability to discipline her love of telling tales on her Kentucky father and on her mother and four siblings, all of whom were passionate readers and indulgent listeners. So I shall start with a brief outline of the Mount Holyoke College community of which we were only a part. A returning alumna trying to find the Mount Holyoke she knew in the late a€?twenties, would see much to reassure her if she drove along College Street. Yet, back of the faA§ade, the college has changed not only structurally but essentially, and one of those most essential changes is the student body.
Most of us were Protestant: Congregationalist, Presbyterian, or Methodist, although there was a sprinkling of Episcopalians and Quakers. If all that lack of variety -- social, religious, and class -- made us parochial in outlook, it was also the basis for what I find the most distinguishing and influential characteristic of the college I knew: we were classless. It all happened between September 1928 and June 1929; that was a very far-off time -- sixty-seven or sixty-eight years ago, to be specific. If Sycamores has ghosts today, I think they are not of the students I knew there, but Margaret, Nellie, and Dunk, assuming still their roles as guardians of the house. Later came the daffodils, narcissus, and hyacinths in clumps at the bases of the big trees, filling the borders, escaping somehow into the wilderness beyond the grape arbor. Naturally, being girls still, we did not confine our reaction to the garden to aesthetic raptures. Having chosen Sycamores for its eighteenth-century charm, we tried to furnish our rooms in the spirit of the house, at least in so far as our not very knowledgeable taste, our pocketbooks, and our comfort allowed. We had the southwest room at the top of the stairs on the second floor, the one with its own dogleg staircase leading to a locked door on the third floor.
We tried to make the double desk, again college-issue, as inconspicuous as possibly by setting it to the left of the door; at least, it didna€™t strike the eye as one entered. In the fall of 1971 or a€?72, the Dean of Students office, faced with a shortage of rooms for an unexpectedly large freshman classand having on its hands an empty Sycamores -- if a really old house so full of memories can ever be called a€?emptya€? -- decided to move foreign students from Dickinson, where most of those on the graduate level had been housed for at least twenty years, to Sycamores; that is, from the extreme south end of campus to the even more extreme north. As foreign student adviserI was worried about the change, but since I had been presented with a fait accompli, I had no opportunity to raise the questions that troubled me. I must confess that it worked out fairly well, though the difficulties Ia€™d predicted did arise. Despite their initial disappointment, they began to accept the situation, and gave in gracefully, or at least, not too plaintively, as they fell into the rhythms of their adopted life.


Second semester had begun, everyone had returned, somewhat gratefully, to the safety of campus after the confusing scramble of Christmas vacation, and everyone had settled in nicely, I thought.
So she went off with the key and it was so effective that Miss Lyon returned to wherever she had walked in my day, and never turned up at Sycamores again.
Our relationship with our Head of Hall was fairly close, but our meetings usually took place at meals, in the halls, or in our own rooms, though Evelyn Ladd, as House President, probably saw more of her than I was aware of. We knew, of the room itself, that one whole wall was white-painted paneling with a fireplace, and that it was fitted up like a sitting room, with chairs and a cot, of the sort we students had, with a serviceable dark green couch-cover.
This juxtaposition of bathroom and Miss Dunklee was at the heart of one of our more dramatic experiences that winter. My memory may be wrong: it couldna€™t have been more than a healthy trickle, though a reprehensible one, after all.
Still there were, there had to be, lapses; further disappointments for Miss Dunklee, though none so serious as the bath episode.
Whatever the reason for our unease, an evening came when we feared that the sheer numbers of our small infractions had accomplished what one serious carelessness had failed to do: discouraged Dunk irrevocably. She smiled benignly, went into her room, and shut the door, leaving us to trail upstairs feeling, if truth must be told, a little flat. The name a€?Sycamoresa€? brings up memories of one of the happiest years of my College life. I wish I could recall when we first had Sycamoresa€™ Delight, and I wish I could say that it was something Escoffier would have risked his life for. Since ordinary dates were usually confined to weekends, a week day was chosen for this occasion, in order to highlight the glory. Meanwhile, the two young lady dates, having got themselves dressed for an evening out, were lurking on the second floor at the top of the stairs.
About the other, I can be more sure and detailed, though the 1931 Llamarada, placing that wintera€™s Llamie Dance in late October, shakes my certainty about the background.
There was much good-natured chaffing as each date boasted of his prowess as a trencherman and vowed to add his name to the list. Feminine modesty required observance of two conflicting dicta: one did not interfere with the innocent pleasures of onea€™s date, and one did not allow notoriety, especially if there was any danger that it might be accompanied by public ridicule.
Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays differed somewhat from class days, and greatly and crucially from the present weekends. Within that routine, there were, naturally, variations, sometimes worthy to my nostalgic mind of treatment in some detail, sometimes very minor but insisting on a brief notice.
Some of our elders, and some of the more conventional of us, must have thought there were other, more dangerous flames that year, for 1929 was an election year and, though the Republican Herbert Hoover became president that fall, despite my own staunch adherence to the Democratic party, radical criticism, even some talk of listening to the demands of a€?those unionsa€?, was in the air. For the most part, though, our interests and activities were confined to college and, more specifically, the dorm. Such long walks were common for us in spite of the skirts we still wore everywhere, but they tended to be informal.
Some of our walking was less healthy that sophomore year than Outing Club hiking; the fall of 1928 saw the Administrationa€™s capitulation to the Campus cigarette lobby.
In those days, one of the entertainment glories of the Connecticut Valley was the Court Square Theater in Springfield. One incident that really had nothing to do with Sycamores but certainly lent flavor to our lives there, took place during the winter.
A function of Jeanette Marksa€™s Play Shop was to lend its expertise to the foreign language departments when they put on their annual plays. More connected to Sycamores was one more of these passing events, small in itself but important to the participants; in this case, to me. Sophomore year, as Ia€™ve said, was the year a class began to define itself as a part of the college community. Each class inherited its color -- red or blue, green or yellow -- and its heraldic emblem -- lion or Pegasus, griffin or Sphinx -- but the song had to be original.
End of an extraordinarily satisfying year for seventeen sophomores and for one -- yes, I really do believe it -- often distraught head-resident. The only explanation I can advance for such an uncharacteristic omission is that this was a a€?middlea€? college year, merely the end of a dormitory, not the end of college.
Nevertheless -- here the story-teller gives a shout of triumph -- I do remember most fondly and with a little hindsight embarrassment one event that might be described as a climax of sorts: Dunka€™s final attempt to give pleasure to a€?her housea€?.
I cana€™t say whether I had an exam that morning, but I do recall the late May flowers and fragrance and our great pleasure when Dunk told us as we assembled for lunch that we were to have a picnic in the garden. The cup was not quite full, however: no food had appeared and Evelyn Ladd, the designated hostess, was missing. Miss Dunklee, mindful of the passing time and Miss Greena€™s inexorable schedule, reluctantly took care of the first problem, giving away the second part of her secret: the food was to be hunted for. The food was laid out on the tables, our plates were piled very high; Miss Dunklee and Mr. Someone else was sent, like Sister Anne in the Bluebeard story, to see whether a laggard Evelyn was even so belatedly wandering down the road from the college. At about five oa€™clock that afternoon Evelyn turned up, exhausted but jubilant that the questions on the exam she had just taken had called forth her best. I find it hard to accept that the sophomores I have been writing about and whom I can see so clearly are now in their mid-eighties, elderly women by anyonea€™s standards. PrefaceA  Adaline Pates Potter, known to all as Pates (pate eze) came to Mount Holyoke College from western Pennsylvania with the firm, if romantic, intention of majoring in French and joining the US Consular Service on graduation. A A A  She blamed her inability to discipline her love of telling tales on her Kentucky father and on her mother and four siblings, all of whom were passionate readers and indulgent listeners. We were an astonishingly homogenous group.A  Almost all of us were middle-class and Protestant and came from east of the Rockies, and most of those, from the Atlantic coastal states north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Yet, back of the faA§ade, the college has changed not only structurally but essentially, and one of those most essential changes is the student body.A  As Ia€™ve said, the student body was almost ridiculously homogeneous. Churchill warns that the Battle of Britain is about to begin, and that a€?never has so much been owed by so many to so fewa€?a€”the RAF fighter pilots in their Spitfires and Hurricanes.
Widowed dowagers holding court in the lobby in long gloves and high collars eyed me disapprovingly through lorgnettes.
One thing Ia€™d want you to do is put together a weekly assessment of where the war stands. I went down early the first night of class and put a note on the classroom door telling them to see me in the fifth-floor lounge. Woody works out his frustrations on her, using Bentona€™s murals on the walls around them to heap scorn upon her politics. Poland falls, and after occupying its eastern half, Stalin attacks Finland as well, reported here by Elmer Davis whoa€™s become CBS Newsa€™ principal nightly news commentator. He can then, in dealing with a nation that has lost its charactera€”and this means every one that submits voluntarilya€”count on its never finding in any particular act of oppression a sufficient excuse for taking up arms once more. 9 covers a single but for Woody enormously critical hour of a late-June 1940 afternoon, at Christopher Morleya€™s hideaway office on the top floor of 46 West 47th Street.
The description comes from a woman who did see and condemn it, the late Dee Alexander, Edgar W. One was the big frame and boyish face of Gene Tunney, but the other was a stranger, short and thin with a freckled face, blue eyes, and brown hair going gray. But America is still divided, and even Baker Street Irregulars may question how realistic this appeal for their help is, and how far the White House is prepared to go. Stephenson is quite prepared to operate -- and one not foreign to Woody either, no matter how exasperated he gets with Rex Stouta€™s stridency about it.
Without a pause Elmer led me inside and across the lobbya€™s tiled floor to join the flow of men up the staircase beyond. Ia€™d enjoyed lunch there with Elmer, but never asked if law made one eligible; I doubted it did, short of Learned Hand.


Inside a meeting-room, about ten men were talking in small groups, but I took in only the one glaring at us indignantly.
Until that moment, none of us had quite recognized in our innermost selves the convictions we now found awesomely and unanimously evident: The United States must enter this war. Some recipients, like Warner and Wilson of our original group, could not sign because of their official positions. But when the group meets at the Century Association in New York, he is therea€”with Woody in tow. One is Billy the Oysterman, the West 47th Street restaurant a few doors down from Chris Morleya€™s hideaway office where the BSIa€™s leaders began to meet over lunch.
The first Billy was William Ockendon, of Portsmouth, England, who came to the United States and set up his first small oyster stand in Greenwich Village around 1875. It had a well-stocked bar, which of course mattered to Baker Street Irregulars, and a menu extending far beyond the oysters that had given Billy the Oysterman its start. It was popular with people at Radio City nearby, and also with Christopher Morley and Edgar Smith.
She hastily switched to an English major when she learned that Consuls are expected to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of economics, however, she did take as many courses in government and political science as the college then offered. Dedicated smokers now snatched a fugitive drag in dormitory rooms, with all the consequent flurry of suddenly flung-open windows and frantic waving of towels if someone in authority approached. Lovell freely, to take us to the Court Square, and to Springfield at the beginning of vacations. Woolley Hall, the Rockies, Skinner, the Mary Lyon gates, Mary Lyon itself, the libe, and Dwight have altered their front elevations so little, or so subtly, that she might even overlook the new link between the libe and what she knew as the a€?art buildinga€?. Nazi bombers attack London and other British cities as well as military targets, lighting up the night despite the blackout with burning buildings. The State Department and the Army and Navy have most of the dope youa€™ll need, and they wona€™t open up just to be nice. It was my favorite room, with the strong images and bold colors of Thomas Hart Bentona€™s a€?America Todaya€? murals on the walls.
Short and stacked with long dark wavy hair and strong features bare of make-up, she was frowning and tapping her foot.
For America, isolationist by instinct and neutral by law, the Sudetenland crisis during the summer of 1938 is the first great watershed.
Americans become polarized over the rights and wrongs of it, especially when Hitler starts demanding territorial concessions from Poland as well. On the contrary; the more the exactions that have been willingly endured, the less justifiable does it seem to resist at last on account of a new and apparently isolated (though to be sure constantly recurring) imposition. This point of view was ably expounded by the late Senator Borah on October 2nd, in his speech opening the neutrality debate.
Rough bookcases lined the walls, but books and papers were everywhere, including the floor. At the far end, Rex Stout sat in a dilapidated armchair with his feet on a footstool, arms around his knees.
But at the end of May, Richard Cleveland, son of the former president and an attorney in Baltimore who had been the NPCa€™s first chairman, called me up to say he thought we should hold a smaller session on the subject, at once.
But on Monday, June 10, 1940, the New York Times and the Herald-Tribune carried the a€?Summonsa€? over 30 rather influential names from 12 widely separated states and the District of Columbia.
Davis knows them all, and one of the ringleaders was his cabin-mate on the boat to England when they were Rhodes Scholars at Oxford as young men. But the cautious Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies will turn into the much more assertive organization Fight for Freedom! After graduation at the height of the a€?Great Depressiona€?, she spent four years in Northampton, Massachusetts, as a governess, finishing that period with an M.A.
This wartime work led her to return to the Mount Holyoke English department, as a teacher of English as a foreign language and of composition. Britain and France go along with Hitlera€™s demands, brokering an agreement at Munich giving the vital strategic part of Czechoslovakia to Germany.
This is only the first sip of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year, unless a€“ unless! In August 1939 Hitler and Stalin turn the entire world upside-down with their surprise non-aggression pact freeing Germany from the threat of a two-front war.
Denouncing a€?the hideous doctrines of the dominating power of Germany,a€? he nevertheless contended that they were not an issue and seemed to see no ethical difference between the belligerents. And just as Woody receives a cryptic summons one day in June, after the fall of France, a great stirring in the land is beginning.
Elmer occupied a smaller chair nearby, and Edgar Smith perched between them on an upturned beer crate.
After years of Downing Street appeasement, and Britain facing Hitler alone now, Churchilla€™s first hurdle is convincing America that Britain is finally determined to fight it out to the end.
Both Whit Shepardson and Francis Miller are foreign policy establishment figures whom Woody will also meet again in Washington, after America is in the war. Woody and smoky, comfortable rather than classy, with lumbering, loquacious waiters, it prospered too.
In 1960 the position of foreign student advisor was added.A  She retired as Associate Professor of English and died in 2006.
Murrow brings the Blitz into American homes nightly with his broadcasts from the streets and rooftops of the beleaguered city.
In those days I did relief work on the Lower East Side, and there were some pretty nasty gangsters around. At Northfield she was given permission to marry Gordon Potter; her employment was terminated two years later, on the grounds that, as a married woman, she would be unlikely to stay in the school into an old age. Yet here it was, our home for some nine months, and a home we had chosen for ourselves when low room-choosing numbers allowed the choice.
At Northfield she was given permission to marryA  Gordon Potter; her employment was terminated two years later, on the grounds that, as a married woman, she would be unlikely to stay in the school into an old age. The good thing about the Murray Hill was that I couldna€™t possibly run into anyone I knew, not before the BSI returned in January.
And at the Worlda€™s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Long i??Island, New Yorkers and tourists taking in a€?The World of Tomorrowa€? learn that it will be indefinitely postponed.
Dust was thick everywhere and hung in the smoky air where sunlight fell through unwashed windows.
He is personally committed now to what Churchill declared in another speech to Parliament this month, and the world.
And at the Worlda€™s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Long Island, New Yorkers and tourists taking in a€?The World of Tomorrowa€? learn that it will be indefinitely postponed.
Woodya€™s is not immune, and that summer he leaves home to live alone in the Murray Hill Hotela€™s Victorian confines. Occasionally he would get away to a nearby hotel, but this was no refuge, as he was liable to be routed out of bed at any hour of the night to deal with a fresh sensation from overseas. Author: How Like a God (1929), Seed on the Wind (1930), Golden Remedy (1931), Forest Fire (1933), The President Vanishes (1934), Fer-de-Lance (1934), The League of Frightened Men (1935), The Rubber Band (1936), The Red Box (1936), The Hand in the Glove (1937), Too Many Cooks (1938), Mr. Author: Travels in East Anglia (1923), River Thames (1924), Whaling North and South (1930), Lamb Before Elia (1931), The Wreck of the Active (1936). Author, Giant of the Western World (1930), The Church Against the World (1935), The Blessings of Liberty (1936). Author: Foreign Trade and the Domestic Welfare (1935), Price Equilibrium (1936), Appointment in Baker Street (1938).



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