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The ‘Gene’ pool

September 20, 2008
By Howard Riley, hjriley@adelphia.net

From conversations I have had with readers, not a lot of people were aware that W. Somerset Maugham stayed in Saranac Lake in the mid-1940s.

There is, of course, a lot more to say about the author's time here, but after last week's column when I implanted the wrong "Gene" in my word pool, all hell broke loose.

I apologize to my good friend Jeanne DeMattos for naming her "Gene" in last week's column. The only excuse I can come up with is that I didn't take my smarter pills that morning.

Article Photos

Repairs are under way on the smokestack of the Hotel Saranac, perhaps about the time that W. Somerset Maugham was taking his meals there. St. Bernard’s church is visible in the background, where it appears a wedding or a funeral was taking place, or maybe the chimney guy was working on Sunday. The Keough building is on the far right with what looks like a 1936 Plymouth parked at the curb.
(Photo courtesy of Hugh D. McGill, copyright 2008)

Now I know how mechanics feel when they realize they left their tools on top of the air filter of a car that just left the garage.

But I do want to publish this introduction of Mr. Maugham to his radio address in July 1944, written by William F. Stearns, director of the Saranac Lake Study and Craft Guild, the sponsor of his talk. This note is in the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library:

"Without doubt, everyone in the listening audience has, during recent years, admired and enjoyed the rich talents of the distinguished novelist and playwright who is our guest today.

"Perhaps you recall with especial pleasure his notable novel - 'Of Human Bondage' - or the play in which Jeanne Eagles rose to fame, entitled 'Rain.' Or perhaps you saw the motion picture 'The Letter.' His current best-seller, 'The Razor's Edge,' is perhaps now on your bedside table.

"It is an honor and sincere pleasure to present to you, as the guest of the Study and Craft Guild, W. Somerset Maugham. His informal talk today is directed particularly to the confined patients of Saranac Lake."

A noteworthy note

Now, regarding last week's column, this wonderful message arrived via e-mail from another friend, "Charles, Charlie, Chick, Chuck, howmuchwoodcouldawoodchuckchuckifhecouldandwoulddchuckwood" Brumley:

"Howard, I know as a kid I always wore my 'bluegenes' whenever I went to the Saturday morning movies. One of my favorites was Jean Autry and Trigger - no, that was Roy Rodgers - "More hay, Trigger? No thanks, Roy, I'm stuffed!" (Now I am very surprised that this Adirondack author and City Slicker Charlie Brumley knew that Roy had Trigger stuffed.)

"I always wanted to talk western like those guys, but figured it was a case of 'jeanetics' and I wouldn't be able to pull it off the talking.

"I mean, some of those guys were 'jeanusus' in their own way. It's as if they had 'jeanies' in bottles they could unleash and give them magic.

"Them's were the days. - Best, Chuck Brumley."

"Sun of a gun"

I guess when I sat down last weak to right my weakly tail I was thinking of my favorite pear of genes, Kelly & Krupa, or it could have been Gene Hackman, Gene Walsh, Gene Wilder, Gene Strack, Gene Tierney, Gene Myer, Gene Simmons, Gene O'Dell, Gene Rayburn, who nose?

Realizing my mistake, I was pulling my hare out because when I sea a mistake I maid after reeding the column too thymes, witch takes me an our to wright, I am all warn out. Sometimes I wood rather not no about mistakes because I can't bare the criticism if someone doesn't get the hole pitcher.

I can assure ewe, my deer editors did reed everything I rote last weak, and after taking such panes to get it write, I didn't.

Now there were missiles, other than Mr. Brumley's, fired across my bow. Jeanne's son, Jack, Jock, er, Jacques sent a testy e-mail saying, how could you? ... after all those years you have known my mother, get her name wrong, like it was on purpose? And phone calls, "You had a mistake in your column, Riley" Yak, yak, yak! Can you believe it?

 
 

 

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