The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on January 15, 1984 · Page 160
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 160

Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 15, 1984
Page 160
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mm The following year, the railroad raised the rent a move that the city found quite unacceptable. Refusing to pay the increase, city fathers took down the park sign. So much for civic homage. J - , s (I w bus won out, as State capital, by only one vote over Lancaster, and ever since then has had the hallucination that it is being followed, a curious municipal state of mind which affects, in some way or other, all those who live there." Time and time again, Thurber reached into his remarkable memory to pull out people, places and events from his Columbus , past. My Life and Hard Times, written in 1933, is a collection of zany tales written around events from Thurber's boyhood. Thurber scholars generally agree that the Thurber formula was to take a real happening, twist and turn the facts, add a generous measure of chaos and voila! the perfect Thurber tale. Thurber's brother William, in a 1972 taped interview with Ohio State University Professor Emeritus of Thurber Studies Lewis Branscomb, said that 90 of what James wrote about their parents was true. Most people would agree the percentage of truth in the rest of his stories was not that generous. No listing of Columbus-related Thurber works would be complete without mentioning The Thurber Album, published in 1952. It contained 16 tributes to family members and Columbus friends who influenced Thurber throughout his life. Thurber often returned to Columbus to visit family and friends. He maintained close ties to his alma mater Ohio State University (OSU). Although he never graduated, Thurber was an OSU student from 1913 to 1918, and a more loyal alumnus never existed. For over 40 years, he contributed a monthly piece to the alumni publication. Robert Tibbetts, curator of the Thurber special collections at OSU, described Thurber's feelings for OSU as "a lifelong, love-hate relationship." During Thurber's years at OSU and for years after, the university's agricultural school took precedence over all other departments. Thurber was forever bemoaning what he saw as OSU's cultural deficiences and was fond of repeating Dean Joseph Denny's admonition: "Millions for manure, but not one cent for literature." Thanks largely to daughter, Rosemary, widow Helen and Traveling 90 miles due south of Clyde, you come to Thurbertown. also know as Columbus. Ohio. Unlike Sherwood Anderson, James Thurbcr's memory has not suffered the slings and arrows of the people back home. Many will tell you today, 22 years after Thurber's death, that he is the greatest humorist ever to come out of America. Others will confess that they never understood a thing he wrote. Few will argue his versatility as a journalist, essayist, cartoonist and playwright. James Thurber was born on December 8. 1894, at 251 Parsons Ave. on the east side of Columbus. With the exception of a brief wartime stint as a code clerk in the American Embassy in Paris, he lived in Columbus until 1924. His professional career began in 1920 at the Columbus Dispatch. It was there, after serving as the city hall reporter, that he made his professional debut as a humorist with a weekly half-page called "Credos and Curios." Shortly after the column was canceled, Thurber decided he had outgrown the literary confines of Columbus. He ended up in New York where he joined the staff of a struggling new weekly humor magazine called The New Yorker. By the decade's end, both The New Yorker and James Thurber had become synonyms for literary wit and sophistication throughout the world. Regardless of how cosmopolitan Thurber became, he was always quick to direct credit back home, writing in 1959 . . . "half of my books could not have been written if it had not been for the city of my birth." Thurber's feelings for his hometown, however, were not constant. They fluctuated from drippy nostalgia "I am never very far away from Ohio in my thoughts, and the clocks that strike in my dreams are often the clocks of Columbus." to cool sarcasm: "In the early years of the nineteenth century, Colum s And once again, Winesburg is generating controversy among Clyde's citizens. Hurd thinks that the expansion on the edge of town, especially the shopping center, will draw business away from the Main Streeters of downtown Clyde. Good sees it differently, pointing out that Clyde sorely needs the addition of a shopping mall. Even projects to honor Anderson himself are still running into snags. In 1976, a group of citizens decided to set aside a strip of land to be known as the Sherwood Anderson Park. The plot chosen was a section of the old railroad station grounds in the heart of downtown Clyde leased by the city from the railroad. The area was cleared of trash and spruced up with a fresh planting of grass, trees and flowers. On dedication day, Anderson's widow, Eleanor, came to town and stood by proudly as the sign proclaiming Sherwood Anderson Park was put into place.. A portrait of Sherwood Anderson painted about the time he wrote Winesburg, Ohio. This copy hangs in the Winesburg Inn. On the western edge of town, across the highway from the sprawling Westinghouse plant, is the Winesburg's Inn, Goods first venture in capitalizing on Clyde's notoriety as the locale for Wines-burg. Good admits that he'd never read Winesburg, Ohio before coming to Clyde, but confessed with a smile, "I knew about this guy who wrote this dirty book." He also learned that, although the local boycott of Anderson's works had made him a virtual unknown in Clyde, he was widely read and respected throughout the rest of the world. Winesburg Inn has proven so successful that Good has expansion plans that include a shopping center, a housing complex for the elderly called the Winesburg Village and a medical clinic. at Z Q Z UJ z O in 3 UJ UJ I (- 24

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