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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 84, Number 4 (May 1983)

Murphy, Tom
Sinclair Lewis and how he undid me,   pp. 10-12


Page 12


the case: read her husband's papers in the
University Archives; get the class roster
and track down members; look into the
Madison Literary Club which often
printed the talks given at its monthly meet-
ings, because someone talked about the
class. And she said she'd write soon with
everything she could recall.
   The action speeds up now, and things
get ugly. It's best we rely on my Journal for
the facts.
00 Friday, March 4: Call English depart-
ment for roster of Lewis class; nice person
says she'll look. Go to University Archives
for Pochmann papers, ask staff to search
for letter Schorer says Lewis wrote, after de-
parture, to Merritt Hughes, blasting En-
glish department. ** This will rip lid off de-
ception he left happy. Archives cannot
find same. I remark on poor service. Find
Pochmann's letter to August Derleth: S. L.
left us quite suddenly last Thursday to help
produce a play of his in New York. That's
the whole story, regardless of what papers
say. They would have the department jeal-
ous of him ... whereas there's been a clear
understanding from the beginning ....
     A likely story!
 SOMonday, March 7: To State Historical
 Society for papers presented Madison Lit-
 erary Club. Nothing. Find in subject file,
 Lewis, Sinclair. Handsome index card, no
 material. Mrs. Pochmann calls; still sick,
 but mailed me three-page letter over
 weekend. However, believes addressed to
 230 N. Lake Street instead of 650. Call
 p.o., told no problem if zip correct.
 SO Tuesday, March 8: English depart-
 ment calls; no rosters from '40. Back to
 SHS, find ref, Mad. Lit. Club, papers of.
 To stacks in sinuses of bldg for folder,
 (where enjoy grad-level grafiti); folder
 holds meeting schedules only. Wonder
 whereabouts of Lewis-to-Hughes scathing
 letter.** To Archives; request English
 dept records to '42. To dictionary for
 meaning improper noun Archivist Frank
 Cook calls me. Discover ref to: White, He-
 len C., correspondence, note carton in-
 cludes letters to/from Schorer. Learn
 White, Helen C. recipient inordinate num-
 ber of awards, wrote thank-yous re each.
 * * Keep your eye on this.
       Marcella wanted to be a star.
Schorer letter to her describes new house.
Small voice says, "Call Schorer widow re
Lewis-to-Hughes blockbuster letter."**
Ignore voice.
SO Wednesday, March 9: Archives finds
no English dept records prior '49. Tell
them couldn't find elephant in phone
booth. Call department; nice lady says ar-
chivist probably right, papers maybe never
sent, refers to Homecoming bonfires. To
Hist Soc photo files for pic of Lewis. Good
one in front Capitol; know am in trouble:
Researchers' Law sez if good illus, no
story to go with. Recall Mrs. Pochmann
said Merritt Hughes had son. Read cards
on 238 Hugheses, stumble on David '49.
Phone in Mich. Doubts he has vital Lewis-
to-Hughes ltr, but will look. Call local mbr
still-extant Mad Lit Clb. Says few monthly
talks prntd. Ask him who gave one on
Lewis. Get dialtone.
SOFriday, March 11: To Archives, read
massive post-'49 rcrds of English dept.
Windy bunch. No refs to Lewis or world-
shaking ltr to Hughes, but many laughs re
vocab describing literary achievements of
Barbara Cartland.
S    Saturday, March 12: Dtr home from
UW-LaX, spring vac. Suggest pleasant day
in library with dad; dtr turns unpleasant.
Alone at SHS, find new ref to Mad Lit
Clb, papers of. Librarian must get from
vault, back before dark. Folder holds
more mtng topics, newest, "Will Lind-
bergh Make It Alone?" Librarian sez hate
see man cry.
SO-Monday, March 14: Postcard frm
Mrs. P: misaddressed ltr to me never re-
turned her by p.o.
SO-Tuesday, March 15: First major
break! At SHS, find proof of Mad Lit Clb
paper! "The Sinclair Lewis Class," by Eliz-
abeth Mason Gould, dtd April 9, 1956.
Certain to ref to mystery letter and show-
case my abilities. SHS assigns best &
brightest to search.
sOWednesday, March 16: SHS's b&b
unable find Gould feature, say doubt ever
prntd. Find one by Mrs. P. in "Creative
Wisconsin," spring, '57, but no mention
letter on which scoop depends. Take guess
Cap Times's Whitney Gould is Elizabeth's
dtr. Correct. She will look in attic.
S0;Thursday, March 17: Receive Mrs. P.
ltr to me dtd 3/4. Make note to change
name to Huck Finn to speed future deliv-
ery. Ltr contains nothing re titanic Lewis-
to-Hughes missive. Case lid still tight.
Small voice: "For last time, call Mrs.
Schorer." Go have green beer instead.
SOPFriday, March 18: At Archives, de-
mand staff unearth the L-to-H letter.
Archivist employs oily smile, asks date of
same, reply "don't know." Asks reason
sure there was letter, reply "Schorer
book." Archivist thrusts book roughly,
says, "where?!" Can't find ref! (Book
probably tampered with.) Return to office,
check own copy. Astounded. Schorer
mentions no letter. Scour notes. Appalled
at error. Small voice: "Two in college, one
in high school; it happens." Whitney
Gould calls; unable find mother's feature
but sending Cap Times clips dtd 1961 with
excellent coverage by Elliott Maraniss.
SC Monday, March 21: Same arrive.
Covers entire event, supports Schorer,
Pochmann: no mystery in departure,
Lewis mercurial, moody, lonesome. Pon-
der apologizing to staff of Archives, but
control self. Tell small voice glad didn't
call Mrs. Schorer and make fool of self.
Voice says did enough of same locally. ED
12 / THE WISCONSIN ALUMNUS


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