Helen Howe: Censors and Tempers - Part 1

Uploaded by cahEIU on 25.04.2011

[no dialogue].
(Ms. Helen Howe). I am delighted
to be here.
I was a little appalled when I saw
my name with an hour's worth of time.
I could talk for seven or eight hours
if someone was talking with me.
But since I thought I was going to be responsible for it myself,
so I paid a small fee to Ray, to take some of my time.
Doug has promised to use some more,
and I'll do the best with what I have.
I have been very interested in Jim Jones,
and the writing of Jim Jones.
And perhaps if I tell you a little bit about my background,
it will be clearer as to why this interest developed.
Jim and the Handy's, Laurnie and Harry were very close friends of
my husband Tinks, and he spent a great deal of time with them in
the late forties when he returned from World War II.
When we were married in 1950, they were among my very first
friends in Robinson.
We have proofed the galleys of "From Here to Eternity," and
were involved in many discussions about the
information in "Some Came Running."
We helped Jim change the names.
We helped him to understand things that you simply don't
write about, if the ladies going to meet you on the street
tomorrow, but we didn't always get our point across, but he
knew someone cared what he was doing.
I started college in 1970, you thought I was older didn't you?
[audience laughter].
(Helen Howe). I started kindergarten,
I just realized this a week or so ago
while I was in my class at Lincoln Trail.
I started Kindergarten in 1932.
I started high school, I graduated from high school in
1945, and 25 years later, I started college.
And I graduated from Eastern, with my MA in English in 1975.
And then I taught at Lincoln Trail for, full time, for about
ten years and then I taught part-time and then I messed
around and hung around, and I still was interested in seeing
Jim, his reputation, his ability, and his effort become
as important as it could in American literature.
In the summer of 1983, Mike Lennon and Geoff Van Davis from
the University of Illinois-Springfield, were in
the area preparing a documentary for PBS on Jim.
They spent a great deal of time at our home, and Tinks and I
helped them contact contemporaries and friends, and
people in Robinson to gather information for their film.
The film, "From Reveille to Taps,"
was shown in August of 1985.
We kept in contact with them, and through them we met George
Hendry, from the University of Illinois Champaign who was
compiling Jim's letters for his book, "To Reach Eternity," which
was published in 1989.
While working on this book, he arranged for the original
manuscript to be purchased by the University of Illinois.
A celebration for this acquisition was held in April of
1990, and we were invited to the event.
At that event we were able to renew our friendship with
Gloria, and to meet Kaylee, which was very
important to both Tinks and me.
Juanita Martin who was our librarian at LTC, and I decided
to get a grant to form the James Jones Literary Society.
We figured that the place for it to be would be in Southern
Illinois at Lincoln Trail just four miles from Robinson, and we
thought we could do it.
Of course our grant was not given, but we decided we'd do it
on our own, and we did.
We had an organizational meeting on November 14th, 1991, which
was just days from Jim's 70th birthday, and also the 50th
anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
Kaylee attended, as did a hundred or so others, and we
formed the society, elected the board of directors, elected
officers, and we were on our way.
Everyone paid his own expense, LTC charged us nothing for using
their college, and also made other contributions as they have
continued to do through the years.
We have had annual meetings in many different places since
1991, and now have excess of 300 members.
We will have our next meeting on November 3rd, 2007, at Lincoln
Trail and you're all invited to attend.
But what I came to talk to you about was the subject of
censorship, which I have known about all my life.
I heard things were banned in Boston when I didn't know what
Boston was, so I thought this was something
I was very qualified to speak of.
When Jim was discharged from the service,
he lived with the Handy's.
He had a novel, "Inherit the Laughter" almost finished, and
he met Maxwell Perkins in New York and told him about the
novel and asked him if he'd read it.
Maxwell Perkins was the editor for Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and
one of Jim's favorite authors, Thomas Wolfe.
Perkins liked Jim and saw his talent.
During their conversations, Jim told him about the novel he
wanted to write, about the peacetime army.
And Perkins decided that that was the novel
they really wanted to publish.
When "Laughter" was finished, Jim sent it to Scribners and
they turned it down.
But in February of '46, Scribner's offered him an option
on the other novel, and "Eternity" was begun.
When Perkins died in June of 1947, Jim's new editor was
Burroughs Mitchell.
He too had great respect for Jim and his ability, and both of
these men had a tremendous influence on Jim,
as did Laurnie Handy.
Laurnie had been interested for a long time in writing and
authors, and through the years she had aided and met with many
promising authors.
Although Jim was undoubtedly the greatest success ever from the
Handy colony, he wasn't the only one.
Seventeen novelists who worked and studied
at the colony were published.
Jim lived with Laurnie and Harry, and eventually built him
a room where he could work and sleep and
have a place of his own.
During the next four years he studied and wrote in Robinson,
Florida, and New Mexico.
Harry bought him a trailer, which gave him the freedom to
move around and still have his home with him, this was
important to Jim also.
Sometimes Laurnie or some of the others went
with him, sometimes he went alone.
Harry gave him a weekly allowance, and although he never
seemed to have any money, he was never completely broke.
Not all of the people who spent time with Laurnie and the
writer's were interested in writing.
Some of them could get jobs anywhere they went, and they
always had money in their pocket when everybody else was broke,
and that was the role my husband played with the young writers.
Laurnie saw the talent in Jim, the potential, and she was
determined that he'd write the novel he was capable of.
There's been much discussion about the importance in his life
as an author and God knows I don't what she did or how much
she was able to help him, but I do know that she pushed him.
That she demanded of him what he was capable of, that she
encouraged every effort, that she saw that his needs were met,
and that she helped him to create what has been accepted
and judged as the best of the World War II novels.
Without her he may have done it just as well.
Without her he may have done it much better than he did,
but with her help, he did it.
This is no small achievement, when one considers the
number of fine novels written about this period.
One of the big problems Jim had with his book from its
inception, and one with which I was involved, was his use of
unacceptable four and five and eight....well,
many letter words.
[audience laughter].
I learned words that I have since forgotten because no one
knew what I meant when I said them.