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The Optimist's Daughter
by Eudora Welty

To:                ALL                   Date:    08/26
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:    10:01 PM

THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER, by Eudora Welty *** Sherry & All:  
I'm just finishing up Welty's Pulitzer winner and have to   
say I admire her achievement even more than when I last read
it, about 12 years ago. The perspective of age, or whatever.
  I find THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER to be a wise, painful,     
beautiful, terrible book, deceptive in its almost Zen-like  
outward simplicity. Underneath are volumes of insight into  
the burdens and joys of family, and the clash of two        
cultures that old Judge McKelva's daughter Laurel and his   
young second wife, Fay, embody.                             
  It would be oversimplifying to say Fay represents a       
variation of what's called "white trash" in the South. The  
difference in her and the McKelvas' worlds is not just      
economic or social status, but as Welty says at one point,  
Fay and her kin and the strangers they're drawn to at the   
hospital, etc., comprise "the great, interrelated family of 
those who never know the meaning of what has happened to    
  I *know* Fay, and a dozen more like her, and I recognize  
her family, and I'm amazed at both the fidelity and variety 
with which Welty renders these lost, chaotic souls who      
produce generation after generation without ever seeming to 
break past the emotional level of adolescence.              
  I hope CRs will give THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER a try (hey,  
at 200 pages of beautiful, straightforward prose, how can   
you go wrong?) and let me know what you think.           
  >>Dale in Ala., in awe of Eudora's gift of language, one  
of the South's greatest natural resources                   

===============   Reply   1 of Note    1 =================

    To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/26
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:04 PM

I, too, was particularly struck by that phrase "those who   
never know the meaning of what has happened to them."  When 
I was teaching, so many of my students came from that kind  
of a background.  To me, the greatest reward I could        
possibly have was to have someone come up at the end of the 
semester, and tell me how their world had been expanded by  
what they had learned.  The condition of Fay and her family 
is not unique to the South, believe me.                     
This is indeed a wonderful book.  I read it a couple of     
weeks ago and have just now resolved to read it again.  As  
I finished it, I had the feeling there was some over-arching
theme that I had failed to understand.  Certain moments,    
indeed, many of them, stood out with absolute clarity, but  
when I closed the book and sort of summed up in my head, I  
felt adrift.                                                
It's a short book and I'm a speedy reader, so I'm going to  
give it another go before I post any more.  It's worth it.  
Ruth, in California, hot as usual                           

===============   Reply   2 of Note    1 =================

    To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/27
From:   KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Time:     0:07 AM

THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER                                     
Dale, I am so glad you have posted on this already.  I have 
just finished reading it this afternoon.  A quick read, it  
took me only 2-1/2 days to read it. Somehow, I finagled a   
little extra reading time this past weekend--and I couldn't 
put it down. I must say my pen was scribbling away in my    
reader's journal, including the quote you posted.  Toward   
the end I had to quit because it was getting to be too      
much.    I have read ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS and THIRTEEN   
STORIES, but this is the first novel of Welty's I have      
read.  I wasn't sure what to expect because while I had     
treasured OWB, the short stories of TS did not leave a      
lasting impression.  I have always felt that I should       
reread them and now even more so.                           
   Eudora Welty packs a lot in her "deceptively simple"     
prose. And the beauty of it..."The procession passed        
between ironwork gates whose kneeling angels and looping    
vines shone black as licorice."  It easily draws me in to a 
scenerio I am unfamiliar with.  Makes me feel as if I have  
lived in the south all my life.  I know these people and    
they live not only in the south but in the east and the     
west and the north.                                         
  Dale, the term "white trash" has always bothered me       
though.  In my neck of the woods this term is used by white 
people who don't like black imply that a        
particular white person is just as lowly as a black person--
in their opinion.  I was wondering if you could help me on  
this as I am sure you have not used it to be offensive to   
anyone.  I would call the Fay's of the world, the scum of   
the earth.  It is hard to believe that anyone could be so   
uncaring and stupid--and you're right, I think that what    
Fay is has nothing to do with economic or social status.    
  Oh, I did cringe when Laurel burned her mother's          
things--something I could never do--but it seemed to make   
sense for Laurel.  And I did wonder why Laurel didn't react 
more towards Fay's doings in the beginning.  But then I     
thought, well, I guess because she was the "optimist's      
   Also, I like to think of my own family as above the      
likes of Fay, but being a product of parents who divorced   
and then each remarried others, I can tell ya that there is 
much rivalry and jealousy that develops.  It happens        
whether you realize it's happening or not.  It happens even 
if you think you are above it. So some aspects of this      
family's tale have indeed hit home for me.                  
I enjoyed TOD.  It leaves me with such a different          
impression of Welty than after I read Thirteen Stories.  I  
look forward to reading everyone elses comments.            
I almost forgot, I did so like the description of her       
parents reading to each other.  And it did not surprise me  
that Laurel held onto a book for comfort when she returned  
from the hospital after her father's death-- knowing        
Welty's love of books.                                      
Jean in PA thanking Dale for putting TOD on the list        

===============   Reply   3 of Note    1 =================

    To:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA         Date:    08/27
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     9:39 AM

Ruth: I know what you mean, about the pain of teaching      
students whose lives are so totally unmoored from any kind  
of consistent standards, principles, or beliefs. And no     
"larger perspective" whatsoever.                            
  I'll never forget a young guy in my journalism class,     
years ago. Apparently he had a hellish family life, missed  
nearly half the classes, and turned in very little of his   
assigned work. But after he'd gotten his failing grade,     
which came as no surprise to him, he shook hands with me    
afterward and told me how much he'd enjoyed the class: "I   
come in here thinking this journalism stuff was pretty      
simple," he told me. "But you've taught me that things don't
be that simple."                                            
  Is that a pyrrhic victory for a teacher, or what? God     
bless him; I often wonder what he's doing now.              
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            

===============   Reply   4 of Note    1 =================

   To:     KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Date:    08/27
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     9:45 AM

Jean: Enjoyed your comments on THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER. The 
one that especially hit home for me is about rivalries and  
jealousies being almost inevitable with divided families and
remarriages: "It happens whether you realize it's happening 
or not. It happens even if you think you're above it." Amen.
I've been there. One of Welty's great gifts, I believe--in  
addition to the language itself--is all the subtle aspects  
of those situations that she sheds light on without judging.
  The term "white trash" is both troubling and illogical to 
me as well, but it's become such a part of the language it's
hard to ignore, I think.                                    
  It strikes me that the variations of that epithet are all 
Anglo/Protestant-specific, in practice if not               
etymologically: I've never heard either "redneck" (meaning a
neck, by definition white, that's reddened from working     
outdoors in the sun rather than in an office) or "hillbilly"
used to describe anyone who's hispanic, black,              
middle-Eastern, Jewish, Catholic, or what-have-you.         
  And Ruth's right, I think, that it's not a matter of      
socio-economics, but as my 87-year-old grandmother puts it, 
of "knowing how to act." Likewise, my late mother-in-law, no
stranger to deprivation as she worked to raise three young  
kids after her husband deserted her, used the more genteel  
term "trailer trash" to refer to people who were crude or   
unmannered. But seeing as my own mom is happily ensconced in
a retirement trailer park, that phrase is not politically   
correct for me either.                                      
  A strange and complicated situation, especially since all 
the above labels have been retro-appropriated in various    
capacities as labels of pride for those groups they've      
traditionally been applied to; there's even a popular recipe
book called WHITE TRASH COOKING, and the number of songs in 
which the singers claim pride in being redneck or hillbilly 
is astronomical. There's one variation about a guy with a   
CD-changer in his pickup and a satellite dish on his        
trailer, entitled "High-Tech Redneck." I'm not making this  
  I don't think this is a Southern phenomenon, necessarily. 
Most regions where I've traveled have their own variation of
ethnic or socio-economic labels that carry different, and   
potentially offensive, meanings when used out of context.   
Can anybody else think of local examples that might not     
translate well? A fascinating, and troubling, subject.      
  BTW, the pieces in Welty's THIRTEEN STORIES are some of   
her earliest and most anthologized, but her short stories   
have never quite had the emotional impact for me of her     
  Welty wrote, and even published, in obscurity for         
decades--even the stories now considered classic were looked
at askance by the literary establishment of the time.       
  There's a fascinating collection of letters between Welty 
and her long-suffering New York agent Diarmuid Russell      
through this difficult time. It's called AUTHOR AND AGENT,  
edited by Michael Kreyling. I'll post an example or two when
I can.                                                      
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            

===============   Reply   5 of Note    1 =================

    To:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT                 Date:    08/27
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    11:09 AM

Dale: I don't know what we  should call 'em, but I'm with   
your grandma on this one -- some folks know how to act, and 
others don't. I personally am raising my children on the    
'John Wayne Theory' -- try not to behave any worse than John
did in his cowboy movies. Take your hat off when you eat    
(God, that drives me crazy) and maybe even when you come in 
doors. "Yessir" and "Nossir" is just fine for old folks. Had
to make an exception the other day when my son wanted to    
know if it was all right to whack his sister, just after we 
watched John administer corporal punishment to Maureen      
O'Hara. Every theory has it's limits.                       
As for "The Optimist's Daughter", I'm afraid I was a bit    
disappointed. The style and storyline were gentle to the    
point of being pallid and slightly insipid -- as I posted a 
few days ago, this may have something to do with reading the
book right after I finished McCarthy, who is nothing if not 
vivid and full of literary vinegar. I enjoyed the hospital  
scenes, and the funeral was outstanding; however the early  
part of the book seemed vague and somewhat unfocused, while 
the tailend just kind of irritated me. Seems to me that     
whatever Fay's failings (and they were multitudinous), she  
got precious little credit for her one great contribution,  
and that is marrying and caring for the old goat in his last
years. His daughter and neighbors certainly didn't do the   
job that Fay did -- and they weren't prepared to give her   
much credit either. Laura particularly seemed determined to 
wallow in a lifetime of memory rather than face up to the   
morning sunshine and get on with things. I think everyone   
has moments or even days like Laura was experiencing -- but 
she seems to have built an entire life around regret and    
nostalgia. Perhaps she was quite the little minx, back in   
Chicago, and this is just a pause on the trail for her.     
As usual,I'm glad I read it and will be interested in seeing
other reaction. I did read a few of Welty's book reviews in 
a collection of the same titled "A Writer's Eye" and I      
liked them a lot -- she is indeed a skilled writer. Maybe   
it's that southern stuff that was getting me down again.    
By the way, what is a "Sybil Connally suit"? Laura was      
dressing in one to fly back to Chicago. For some reason I   
got high centered on my inability to visualize her dress.   
Dick in Alaska, more fashion impaired than usual            

===============   Reply   6 of Note    1 =================

    To:    ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART  Date:    08/27
From:   FNMN56E    LYNN EVANS            Time:    11:40 AM

A Sybil suit, hmm. Sounds familiar, but I can't quite place 
it. Lynn                                                    

===============   Reply   7 of Note    1 =================

    To:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART   Date:    08/27
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:    11:57 AM

Dick: Hear, hear! Blessed be ye in heaven, for keeping alive
the (increasingly quaint, it seems) concept of manners for  
your kids.                                                  
  Whatever my parents' failings of guidance in other areas, 
manners is one they didn't stint on. The hats-off reflex and
the use of "sir" and "ma'am" is so ingrained in me I don't  
think I can ever be rid of it, whatever the fashion of the  
day demands.                                                
  I was in New York City once, making a very small purchase 
at a very big department store when the female sales clerk  
asked me if I wanted a bag for it. "No, ma'am," I replied.  
She fixed me with a look of unadulterated hatred and said   
through gritted teeth: "I am NOT a 'ma'am'." I caught myself
just before saying, "I'm sorry, ma'am."                     
  Enjoyed your comments about THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER. You  
*know* it's a well-rounded discussion when somebody puts in 
a good word for Wanda Fay. Point well taken, I think.    
Even Laurel, who has as much ground for animosity toward Fay
as anybody, gets irritated with one of her own best friends 
at one point--late at night, over drinks--for their winking 
attitude toward the Judge and his second wife. I'd guess    
there's no human accommodation, least of all marriage,      
that's ever a tenth as straightforward as it seems from the 
  >>Dale in Ala., even more wardrobe-impaired than Sir      
Richard, awaiting enlightenment on what the heck Laurel wore
on the trip home, and still puzzled by Becky's intense      
emotional attachment to a particular blouse she owned;      
clothes are pretty much ciphers and afterthoughts to me, as 
any who've seen my own dressing preferences would attest... 

===============   Reply   8 of Note    1 =================

    To:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART    Date:    08/27
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     1:49 PM

Dick, relax.  A Sybil Connally suit has nothing to do with  
the law.  If memory serves me correctly(and it doesn't      
always) SC was a designer, in the 1950's I would say.  I    
picture an elegant, but simple suit.  Understated, perhaps  
in silk shantung....  Feel better now?                      
Ruth, in shorts and a blouse with 2 buttons missing         

    To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/27
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     1:53 PM

I'm all for manners, too, Dale, (except when I'm VERY angry 
).  But, like the NY clerk, ma'ams and sirs make me a tad
uncomfortable.  Which only goes to show that customs vary in
different parts of the country, but consideration never     
Ruth, who reread TOD last evening and will post more later  

    To:     KDEX08B   RUTH BAVETTA        Date:    08/27
From:   FNMN56E    LYNN EVANS            Time:     4:13 PM

Busting out all over, Ruth? L.                              

    To:    FNMN56E    LYNN EVANS           Date:    08/27
From:   FNMN56E    LYNN EVANS            Time:     4:30 PM

Or I know! You've got your blouse knotted Harry Belafonte   
style. Yes? Lynn                                            

    To:   FNMN56E    LYNN EVANS                 Date:    08/27
From:   EUCR61A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:     6:01 PM

I was a little disappointed to read Ruth's explanation on   
the Sybil Connelly suit -- the idea of a 'Sybil suit'       
sounded great. "Whereas the named defendant did negligently 
fail to cast the bones with a reasonable degree of care, and
further, negligently prophesied regarding the outcome of    
Plaintiff's intended sea voyage, therebye causing him       
extreme and continuing physical pain and emotional distress,
as well as great expense in an amount not less than $50,000,
and which will be more precisely determined at trial." See, 
Aeneas v. The Cumaen Sybil and Sybils 'Jane Doe', Nos. 2    
through 10.                                                 
Dick in Alaska, aware that it's really 'Sibyl', but unable  
resist the extended and not terribly funny pun              

    To:   FNMN56E    LYNN EVANS              Date:    08/27
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     8:01 PM

Sorry, Lynn.  My buttons are missing from the bottom up .
Ruth, hip,hip hur....ah, you get it.                        

    To:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART        Date:    08/27
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:     8:13 PM

greetings SIR RICHARD OF ALASKA..                           
i was delighted to have read your reaction to TOD...i am on 
page 80 and yes..pallid.... i will finish it and perhaps my 
first impression will change....after i read CBJ..JEAN      
MILLER and RUTH... i wasn't going to utter a sound..but with
more ammunition under my belt ..i will give it my best!     
i should have been reared in the SOUTH..i believe firmly in 
the best of manners ....instilling them in the smallest of  
tots...  gail..hp..a passionate reader who is grateful to   
have read SIR RICHARD'S me room to express a di
ssenting view..                                             

    To:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT           Date:    08/27
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:     9:08 PM

First of all, I would like to thank Dale for recommending   
this book, which I liked a lot.  As an extra added bonus it 
was very short, which I sorely needed after wending my way  
through WAR AND PEACE this summer .                      
I found the comments on "white trash" very interesting.     
Hereabouts we have the saying "there's no trash like white  
trash." Rather than being used by racists, I think that it  
implies  that these white folks don't have any excuses for  
their lowly status, and we're not talking about economic    
class so much as morality and lifestyle.                    
 I couldn't find any sympathy for Fay because she was so    
terribly self-centered.  While her husband was critically   
ill in the hospital, her big worry  was that she was going  
to miss the Mardi Gras. There was no genuine grief at his   
death, only a concern with how she was inconvenienced.      
During her staged scene at the funeral, she cried, "Oh,     
Judge, how could you be so unfair to me?" She seemed to lack
any kind of empathy or feeling for anyone other than        
I would like others' ideas about the meaning of the title,  
THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER. Specifically, why was it           
significant that the father was labeled an optimist? At the 
beginning of the story, we are told that he is an optimist  
and therefore assumes that the operation will be a success. 
Later (chapter 3, p146  in the Vintage paperback edition)   
Welty discusses how this attitude kept him from openly      
dealing with his wife's suffering and despair.              
"Her father in his domestic gentleness had a horror of any  
sort of private clash, of divergence from the affectionate  
and the real and the explainable and the recognizable. He   
was a man of great delicacy. What he could not control was  
his belief that all his wife's troubles would turn out all  
right because there was nothing he could not have given her.
When he reached a loss he simply put on his hat and went    
speechless out of the house to his office and worked for an 
hour or so getting up a brief for somebody."                
I suspect that his wife wanted someone to openly share her  
rage and grief at the unfairness of her fate, although I am 
not sure what that would have accomplished. His "optimism"  
did seem to me to involve a refusal to deal openly with the 
uglier parts of life, but that is probably the only way he  
could cope. Am I wrong in thinking that women tend to want  
things out in the open more than men, or is that just the   
way it works in my house?                                   
Incidentally does anyone have any idea what kind of illness 
could have first robbed her of her sight and then made her  
an invalid? I believe a stroke is mentioned in the latter   
phases of the illness, but I found myself very curious about
the specifics of her disease.                               
I agree with Dick that Laura seemed pretty much stuck in the
past. I wondered, for example, why she had never remarried, 
although I would guess that enough men were killed in the   
war that her odds of finding someone were considerably      
diminished. However, I did think that by the end of the book
she had come to some sense of resolution about the deaths of
her loved ones. The bird, which she helped escape, seemed   
symbolic of this. I felt that she was finally ready to move 
on with her life. How about the rest of you-- agree or      

    To:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT                Date:    08/27
From:   KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Time:    10:26 PM

Dale, I know the cookbook to which you refer.  I remember   
seeing the author on tv once and she certainly did look     
like the image one conjures up when thinking of "white      
trash."  I also understand what you mean when you say that  
these people even joke about or are proud to call           
themselves whatever epithet applies.  I don't have a        
problem with "redneck" or "hillbilly," but "white trash"    
carries with it a lot of baggage (at least IMHO). I would   
not be offended to be referred to as "white trash."  What   
bothers me is the ATTITUDE of the person who uses the       
epithet.  The times I have heard people referred to as      
"white trash," it was followed by "...just as bad as        
niggers." I wish I knew the exact origin ot the term.  I    
think, but I could be wrong, that it was used in the        
context I have just described.  If so, I think it is naive  
to think that it doesn't still carry that understanding or  
meaning, whether spoken or unspoken.  That is why I was     
surprised to see your use of that epithet.  If it was as    
simple as at one time it was used "this" way, but the term  
is no longer used "this" way, but the term is still around  
and conjures up the image of a specific group of people,    
that would be ok by me.  But I don't see it that way.       
   While I thought of Fay and Fay's family as crude people, 
the term "white trash" never came to mind as I was reading  
TOD.  (But I guess that makes sense, because while I know   
what the term implies, it is not a term I use.)  I don't    
even think I would refer to her as the scum of the earth as 
I did in my last note.  That would be too easy and I don't  
think anything is that easy.  Maybe my odd little mind is   
making too much of this.  I don't know.  But I guess I      
better stop here.                                           
Jean who often feels like a dog going in circles chasing    
her own tail                                                

    To:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY                  Date:    08/27
From:   KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Time:    11:05 PM

Greetings all, All of you have made such interesting        
comments.  I was pretty fresh from reading the book when I  
posted.  I still like the book, but there are some things   
that I questioned or was not quite sure of as I read.  And  
I am actually gaining some sympathy for Fay. In some way I  
am thinking that Fay did love the Judge in her own way.  He 
gave her something she had never had before and he let her  
be who she was.  I have also heard people say selfish       
things in grief similar to those words spoken by Fay.       
Ann, as far as the title, it makes sense to me.  Her father 
thought that things would just work out of their own        
accord.  And in a way I think Laurel felt this way too.     
This is probably why she did not put up much of a fuss to   
Fay's initial demand to be the one to take care of the      
funeral arrangements. It was only later when things didn't  
work out in an acceptable manner that she got angry.  I was 
also unsure of what disease her mother could have had.  I   
don't even remember any mention of stroke.   Finally, I,    
too, thought the bird was important.  I have always heard   
the old wive's tale that a bird in the house was bad luck.  
Now that she was all alone and lost the 3 people she loved  
the most, she let the bad luck go free?  Or there might be  
some clue in the dialogue between Laurel and Missouri as    
they are chasing the bird out.  Oh and perhaps in what Mr.  
Cheeks says prior:  "It ain't trying to get in.  Trying to  
get out."  And then Laurel says to Missouri:  "...why won't 
it just fly free of its own accord?"  And M. replies:       
"They just ain't got no sense like we have."  But maybe all 
people don't have that sense?  So yes, maybe Laurel did     
finally "escape" and was ready to get on with her own life. 
Maybe it took Fay to help her find her way out, just as     
Laurel helped the bird find its way out.                    

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/28
From:   KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Time:     0:36 AM

Dale, I just wanted to clarify:  I do not think you are a   
racist.  Thanks, Ann, for helping me to remember what       
"these" people are (racists).  Sometimes I get so caught 
up in something that I lose sight of the fact that what I   
am trying to describe is something people are already       
familiar with. Now with my next comment you will probably   
think I am definitely carrying on too much about this, but  
here goes.  Maybe the term "white trash" started innocently 
as a way to say, those "white folks don't have any excuses  
for their lowly status (as pertains to morality and         
lifestyle).  But still this is a comparison to black folks. 
It says that all black people are crude.  It says all black 
people have no morals.  I would venture to say that even    
back then, there were some black people with higher morals  
and better manners than some white people.  And I would     
venture to say that the same is true today.  There are      
black people who are crude and there are white people who   
are crude.  Just as there are well-mannered black people    
and well-mannered white people.  I don't think there is any 
excuse for blacks or whites or any other color of person to 
be ill-mannered, not in yesterday's society and             
not in today's society.                                     
I promise I will try to stop now.                           
Jean who is back at that tail again                         

To:     EUCR61A    RICHARD HAGGART       Date:    08/28
From:   DCTW04A    MARTY PRIOLA          Time:     1:13 AM

Ah, but Dick,                                               
I thought your pun and the attendant case material was      
hysterical.  Reminds me of a case I'll post here            
momentarily.  Do you happen to have a WestLaw cite for this 
--The Irrepressible DJP  8/27/96 11:48PM CT                 

To:     EUCR61A    RICHARD HAGGART       Date:    08/28
From:   DCTW04A    MARTY PRIOLA          Time:     1:13 AM

As promised:                                                
Misc. No. 5357.                                             
United States District Court, W. D. Pennsylvania.           
Dec. 3, 1971.                                               
MEMORANDUM ORDER                                            
 WEBER, District Judge.                                     
 Plaintiff, alleging jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. sec. 241, 
28 U.S.C. sec. 1343, and 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 prays for      
leave to file a complaint for violation of his civil rights 
*283 in forma pauperis.  He alleges that Satan has on       
numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted  
threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has      
placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused      
plaintiff's downfall. Plaintiff alleges that by reason of   
these acts Satan has deprived him of his constitutional     
rights. We feel that the application to file and proceed in 
forma pauperis must be denied.  Even if plaintiff's         
complaint reveals a prima facie recital of the infringement 
of the civil rights of a citizen of the United States, the  
Court has serious doubts that the complaint reveals a cause 
of action upon which relief can be granted by the court.    
We question whether plaintiff may obtain personal           
jurisdiction over the defendant in this judicial district.  
The complaint contains no allegation of residence in this   
district.  While the official reports disclose no case      
where this defendant has appeared as defendant there is an  
unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this   
defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as        
plaintiff.  The defendant in that action was represented by 
the preeminent advocate of that day, and raised the defense 
that the plaintiff was a foreign prince with no standing to 
sue in an American Court.  This defense was overcome by     
overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Whether or not this 
would raise an estoppel in the present case we are unable   
to determine at this time.                                  
 If such action were to be allowed we would also face the   
question of whether it may be maintained as a class action. 
It appears to meet the requirements of Fed.R. of Civ.P. 23  
that the class is so numerous that joinder of all members   
is impracticable, there are questions of law and fact       
common to the class, and the claims of the representative   
party is typical of the claims of the class. We cannot now  
determine if the representative party will fairly protect   
the interests of the class.                                 
 We note that the plaintiff has failed to include with his  
complaint the required form of instructions for the United  
States Marshal for directions as to service of process.     
 For the foregoing reasons we must exercise our discretion  
to refuse the prayer of plaintiff to proceed in forma       
 It is ordered that the complaint be given a miscellaneous  
docket number and leave to proceed in forma pauperis be     
--The Irrepressible DJP  8/28/96 12:07AM CT                 

To:     DCTW04A    MARTY PRIOLA          Date:    08/28
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     2:25 AM

Migawd, Marty!  Do we have to read all of that?             

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/28
From:   NDKB53A    THERESA SIMPSON       Time:     2:54 AM

I diligently went to the library to check out that Welty    
book we were to read - something called Delta Wedding, I    
believed.  Looked high and low, couldn't find it, though at 
one point I did hold in my hand a book called The Optimist's
Daughter, which I replaced on the shelf, of course, as it   
was the wrong Welty book.                                   
Theresa, whose memory is obviously slipping, slipping away. 

To:     DCTW04A    MARTY PRIOLA          Date:    08/28
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    10:04 AM

Marty: Yeah, but remember you're in law school and had your 
real, human sense of humor surgically extracted over two    
years ago. So it may not be a fair test. Have you noticed   
how Lynn's lost her sense of humor over the last few days?  
Can't say we didn't warn her.                               
Dick in Alaska, closing today and reporting back with the   
grim results later, unless the jury does something REALLY   
ugly in which case a gentlemanly catatonic seizure may be in

To:     KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Date:    08/28
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:    11:32 AM

Jean: Among the many pleasures of talking books with CRs,   
for me, is that every discussion takes off in at least one  
totally unexpected direction which sheds light on far more  
than we set out to, which is the case with the "white trash"
issue as regarding OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER. I hear what you're  
saying, and totally agree with your comments, but I want to 
make sure that nobody misinterprets mine.                   
  As I said in an earlier note, I find the phrase illogical,
troubling, and offensive. And, like yourself, I *never use* 
it. If you'll look at my original post again, you'll see    
that I don't USE the term, but rather, as Ann does, QUOTE it
and MENTION that it is in common usage, which it is--not    
just a regionalism, as I had presumed, but judging from     
Ann's note it's common in points at least as distant as     
  (A sidelight on "common," here...for my parents' and      
grandparents' generation, to call a person "common" is the  
most damning epithet of all. Is that regional, or did       
anybody else grow up with that usage?)                      
  The distinction between USING a term and MENTIONING it    
might seem like splitting hairs (well, maybe not to the CR  
attorney contingent...), but to me it's very important.  
I've soapboxed here on countless occasions--to many people's
weariness, I'm sure--on how offended I am by the usage of   
labels, PERIOD, in describing human beings.                 
  I cringe at the words "trash" and "scum," and have gotten 
into very heated arguments with people I dearly love when   
some horrible criminal case is in the news and the serial   
murderer or rapist is described as a "monster" or an        
  It ain't so. They're a *human being*. A miserable,        
screwed-up, deadly human being, maybe, but still in God's   
image just like we are, and until we can face that fact     
we're living in a fantasy, I think.                         
  Likewise, I believe we do ourselves--and truth--a         
disservice by putting any idea or piece of language         
off-limits because it's offensive; those things, most of    
all, are what need to be put in the spotlight if we're to   
talk honestly with each other. But it's crucial not to      
confuse the message with the messenger.                     
  As Natalie Goldberg says in her wonderful book LONG QUIET 
HIGHWAY, "Writing is the willingness to see. I had to be    
willing to look...I was slowly nurturing in me a place of   
quiet detachment, a place where I could look at everything  
without judgment, without good or bad, just putting it down 
on the page."                                               
  Just for the record, I measure my worth as a writer and as
an aware human being by the extent to which I'm able to look
at anything, head-on, however disturbing, and deal with it  
in both intellectual and emotional honesty--with the sole   
purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of the people who 
do/say/believe whatever that disturbing thing is. That's why
I'm here on this planet, I think.                           
  We all have our own excruciatingly heavy and complex      
baggage, which other people never gain a single clue to,    
except in forums such as this one. When you say that you    
"don't have a problem" with the terms "redneck" and         
"hillbilly," for instance, I can only assume that you've    
never had the experience in childhood of running off in     
shame, crying, after being called one. Baggage, we all      
got...the challenge is surmounting it, and some days I do a 
lot better than others.                                     
  All of which is to say, I value your honesty and insight, 
I'm very glad you're here, and I believe the places we're   
both "coming from" on this are much closer than we might    
have thought.                                               
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/28
From:   KEXT98A    TONYA PRESLEY         Time:    12:07 PM

Although we're both south of the Mason Dixon line, we're not
exactly in the same region. Thought you might like to know  
"common" is the kiss of death around here, too. It's        
somewhat worse than "tacky".                                
Tonya, who never wearies of reading your posts.             

To:     KEXT98A    TONYA PRESLEY         Date:    08/28
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     1:23 PM

I grew up in NC and "tacky" was used to describe some social
gaffe that the perpetrator just didn't have the good sense  
to know about. "Common" on the other hand meant sort of     
debased, as in someone who, heaven help us, drank, or ran   
around with other women's husbands. "Running around" is     
another euphemism that got a lot of play in my neck of the  
Are we too off-topic? We are, are we not, talking about the 
language of the South? I think that's on-topic. I'm almost  
through with TOD. I hope to post soon.                      
Sherry, born with a plastic spoon in my mouth               

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/28
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     8:15 PM

I just finished THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER. Does anyone feel   
that they know Laurel? I think by the end of the book, we   
know her a bit, but she seems to me to be a shadow person --
a person who has just realized that she has been trapped by 
time, trapped in memory.  Fay is her antithesis: the brazen,
self-centered, theatrical, uneducated usurper of Laurel's   
childhood home. Laurel is not brazen, is hardly             
self-centered, but instead wants to comfort others, is quiet
and educated. We know all this, however, by what she does   
NOT do or say, not by what she does or says.  Laurel has    
contained herself and her grief over her incomplete life,   
but seems not to know it. Then she reads her grandmother's  
letter expressing a wish to give Laurel a pigeon that would 
feed from her hand if she would let it.  Why did this       
passage release Laurel's pent-up grief? Isn't it ironic that
if Fay had not appeared, Laurel would not have experienced  
the release of grief that she so obviously needed?          
What significance do you find in Becky's most comfortable   
blouse, the one that her mother had spun the cloth for and  
that Becky had dyed a deep rose color and had sewn herself? 
I see a connection in Becky's comfort in this totally       
homemade garment and Laurel's profession of designing cloth.
I don't know exactly what the connection is, but there is   
something there.                                            
How do you think the term optimist is used?  On the surface 
being an optimist would be a good thing, but in this book it
seems to mean someone who doesn't face life straight on, who
when faced with death can't think of anything better to say 
than "Everything will be all right".  We see this negative  
definition of optimist when we are presented with a         
description of Phil. He is not an optimist. He sees things  
squarely and does what needs to be done. He binds together  
(as symbolized by the breadboard), he builds, but then he   
dies.  So what good is he?   >>>                            
OK, I feel like Im writing one of those guidelines for a    
discussion group. But all that seemed to come to me were    
questions. I'd love it if some of you would consider them   
and help me explore this book further.                      

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    08/28
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     8:46 PM

Sherry: Wow! The questions about TOD you pose in your note  
continue to resonate in my brain/heart, and require much    
pondering. I'm bowled over by your visceral homing instinct 
for the emotional "heart" of a novel that means a lot to me,
but which I'll now have to rethink in a new light.          
  At one point, I'd imagined I knew a lot about Laurel's    
"real" life, i.e. in Chicago, but I'm struck by your        
description of her as a shadow, defined by what she's up, in a sense, are we all. To what extent is the 
"heroine/hero" of any work of literary fiction a blueprint  
into which we can try to fit our own lives/choices, with    
certain things "given," and to what extent is that portion  
of us under the same psychic microscope (a totally intuitive
choice by the writer, if I might add) as everyone else?     
  Mercy. I have a half-formed notion that what separates    
"fiction" and "literature" are the paradoxes, or lack of,   
that both raise. By virtue of these posts alone, I'd        
squarely put Welty's multi-faceted and troubling book among 
the latter...                                               
  >>Dale, thinking very hard in Ala.                        

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/28
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    10:49 PM

Okay, I reread OD the other evening and I'm still puzzled.  
That's not to say I didn't enjoy the book.  It's easy for me
to dive into a book about human relationships.  I'd go as   
far as to say OD is my kind of book.  But, that said, I     
repeat.  I'm still puzzled.  It seemed as though there were 
so many themes and directions.  Laurel, who is tight with   
buried emotion, who has yet to free herself from the past.  
Fay, "common", unconscious that she is unconscious,         
self-centered, yet bound to feel looked down on by the Mt.  
Salus folks.  Which she was.  Yet there had to have been    
something there to attract such a man as the Judge.  Could  
he have possibly been the man we are led to believe he is   
and yet have such a blind spot as far as Fay is concerned?  
And who cleaned out his desk?  And why?  And birds.  Why is 
Laurel so terrified of birds, be they pigeons or whatever?  
What about Becky's family?  She's not from the same kind of 
background as the Judge.  Are we to make something out of   
the fact that in both wives he had done what some people    
might have called "marrying down"?  Becky didn't come across
as a sympathetic character to me.  Is she the other side of 
Fay's coin?                                                 
So the Judge was an optimist.  The kind for whom the answer 
to all problems is "It'll be okay."  Why is this so         
important to our perception of Laurel that she goes by this 
name as the title of the book?                              
And I wasn't too happy with the Mt. Salus crowd wasn't too  
great in my mind either.  What a bunch of snobs.  Okay, so  
Fay and her crowd were pretty awful.  But, like you said,   
Dale, they were human beings and the Mt.Salus bunch hardly  
treated them as such.                                       
 I had a feeling all this was going to fall into place for  
me at the second reading, but it didn't.  I saw that Laurel 
was a prisoner of the past, and that her father's death and 
the events that followed allowed her to let herself go free.
 But there was so much else going on in this deceptively    
simple little book.                                         
Ruth, who's got more questions than she's got answers       

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/28
From:   KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Time:    11:02 PM

Dale, Yes, I am always surprised to see the unexpected      
turns these threads take.  I certainly didn't think TOD     
would turn into a discussion of "white trash."  I must      
admit that from your first note I somehow  felt you were    
including yourself in those who refer to a certain group of 
people as "wt."  Then in your second note I thought you     
were saying that it has come to be acceptable.  And I was   
puzzled because it didn't fit with your other posts against 
labeling people. So I am glad to have that cleared up.      
   Second, I do (usually) understand the difference      
between "USING  a term and MENTIONING it."                  
   Third, I don't know why I threw that in about Fay being  
scum.  Labeling people, I feel, leads some to believe that  
others are sub-human and that is definitely a step in the   
wrong direction.  But, I do agree that these are the things 
that people need to be able to talk about.  I hadn't        
responded to your post on Goldberg's book, but I did        
appreciate it and thought it made sense. In fact I had      
copied it and it still in my "to be filed" stack.           
Fourth,  no, I have never been called a "redneck," but   
other equally as hurtful euphemisms hurled my way have sent 
me home crying.  I think I meant that I didn't have a       
problem with "redneck" and "hillbilly" in the context in    
which I THOUGHT YOU THOUGHT they were ok. In addition, I    
have to admit that I do hear "redneck" in use so much that  
I had forgotten that it also carries its own baggage.       
There is the comedian who does the "you know you're         
a 'redneck' if..."  And, as you had mentioned, the numerous 
country music songs where the guy is bragging about being a 
redneck.  What exactly are these guys bragging about?       
Especially if you take "redneck" as meaning a poor Southern 
white guy who doesn't like black people.  While people      
have baggage others aren't aware of, when I referred to     
baggage, I meant the term "wt" itself, had baggage.  As I   
now realize the term "redneck" has its baggage as well.     
Finally, Dale, I think we are in agreement on this, it was  
only my misreading of your original post that got us into   
Jean in PA                                                  

To:     KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Date:    08/28
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    11:59 PM

Ruth: I think you hit the nail on the flat part, when you   
called this "a deceptively simple book". I've reread several
parts (especially the last 20 pages or so) and while it     
still doesn't 'grab' me, it's an interesting and deep bit of
writing. Of course, if it didn't 'grab' me, why am I        
rereading it? One reason may be that as a widower, I am more
than slightly conversant with some of the themes in the book
-- the horrifying end of a long and happy marriage under the
pressure of disease and death, the failure of old friends to
accept a new wife, and the children's difficulties in       
adjusting to all this change, to name but a few. I've wanted
to post more on this book in the last couple of days, but   
time constraints have been merciless. Perhaps in my next    
incarnation God will see to a better dowery, so that I can  
pursue my muse without all this pesky working for a living. 
Dick in Alaska, very much the optimist                      

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/29
From:   FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Time:     0:08 AM

Dale et. al.,                                               
I too am one who ponders the title of things. One must      
presume that an author like Welty must weigh many           
considerations when deciding on a title. So like Ann and    
Ruth, I question why the Judge is an optimist. The only     
answer that satisfies me is the notion that any man who,    
after the protracted illness and death of his beloved wife, 
marries a woman like Fay and who believes that everything   
will turn out just fine, must be an optimist. And what of   
this particular optimist's daughter? Was she standing behind
a door when they gave out the power of positive thinking?   
Why is she connected to optimism in the title?              
I do not agree that Laurel is living completely in the past.
If that were so, her character would have been drawn as one 
who returns home upon the death of her husband. Instead, she
makes a life for herself. I do feel that she has harbored an
enormous amount of grief for her mother and that her grief  
was repressed by her father's premature and unsuitable      
marriage. It is Becky's things that Laurel goes through     
after the death of her father.                              
TOD is to me a book about grieving and about release from   
grief. I do not consider it to be a life interrupter, but it
is very wisely drawn. Who, after all, has not had something 
bizarre (such as a Fay) happen to them at the same time as  
a traumatic event (such as a parent's death)? Human         
existence is quirky that way.                               
I continue to ponder over the title, and assume that choice 
of the optimist word is deliberate to draw our attention to 
the contrary.                                               

To:     ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Date:    08/29
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     1:03 AM

Dick:  You may have hit your nail on the flat part, too.    
I'm sure that the reason I keep worrying away at this book. 
(And the reason, at least in part, I saw so clearly the Mt. 
Salus crowd's less than gracious attitude towards Fay.) I   
married a widower and took on the children, some of whom    
were not particularly thrilled. I know this book is one I   
won't get out of my head for a long time.                   

To:     FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Date:    08/29
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     8:27 AM

Dear Mary Anne,                                             
Just a quibble with one of your facts. I think the Judge    
didn't exactly rush into marriage with Fay. It had been     
about ten years or so since Becky's death, or at least      
that's the way it seemed to me. That doesn't really change  
any of your points, however.                                

To:     FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Date:    08/29
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:     6:55 PM

All, wonderful notes on THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER. They remind
me again how grateful I am to have found this forum. This is
so much more fun than reading a book alone.                 
Sherry, you are absolutely correct that Laura is something  
of a "shadow" person. We are really told so little about her
life. Mostly, she just seems to **react** rather than act   
independently.  I found this somewhat frustrating as I      
wanted to know more about her.                              
Mary Anne, I very much agree that  "TOD is to me a book     
about grieving and about release from                       
grief. " That is exactly how it struck me. This discussion  
brings home to me again how very much a reader's reaction to
a book is determined by his/her own personal experiences. I 
can see this particularly in the different reactions to Fay.
She struck me as cold and completely manipulative, but those
who have been involved in second marriages see her much more
sympathetically. Because both of my own parents have died   
within the last three years,  this tale of someone coping   
with the same circumstances was very meaningful to me. For  
someone who has not had the same experiences, or for someone
whose parents were granted a gentler exit from this life,   
this book might not have rung nearly as true.               
Fay didn't interest me nearly as much as the judge and      
Becky. I think that the judge married Fay because he was    
very lonely and because marrying a woman young enough to be 
his daughter allowed him to deny his own mortality for yet  
awhile longer. So many men do the same thing, and many more 
women would too if there weren't this double standard       
regarding old men versus old women. Mary Anne is right that 
Laura didn't just wallow in the past. She didn't move back  
home, but went on with her life away from home. I  think we 
would all agree that she did the right thing, and yet her   
absence made her father's life very difficult. So it wasn't 
difficult for me to understand why the judge married Fay. I 
think Welty implies, however, that he ended up regretting   
As for being an "optimist", I think it is not such a        
positive thing in Welty's view.                             

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    08/29
From:   FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Time:     6:57 PM

How could I have missed that after two reads? Perhaps it is 
the oddity of the Judge's decision that left me with such an
errant perception.  Mary Anne                               

To:     FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Date:    08/29
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     8:52 PM

Has anyone wondered about the "bridesmaids"? This group name
seemed very odd to me. A wedding remembered would seem like 
a wonderful thing--except the groom died after a year. This 
seems like a literary device to keep time stuck in place.   
The six bridesmaids are almost like a Greek chorus. I don't 
really know one of them from the other.  They call Laurel   
"Polly" which appears to be a childhood name---yet another  
time-sticking device. They obviously don't want anything to 
change, either to grow or to die or to separate.            
I also wondered about what exactly caused the               
Judge/father/optimist to die. Was he trying to find Becky?  
Quietly waiting there until he gave out? His eye problem    
seemed strange too. His vision was "slipping" as if he could
see behind himself. The tree was in the wrong place. It     
seems awfully full of premonition and danger--like time and 
space were slipping sideways.                               
I'm with you Ruth, I have many more questions about this    
book than I ever would presume to have answers.             

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    08/30
From:   KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Time:     0:21 AM

Just one more thing from VOGUE (May '96) but I have to      
print this.  In an article about finger-nail polish.  A new 
company called Hard Candy has a new line of                 
colors..."...the trendiest colors worn by high-profile      
Hollywood types--and even Dennis Rodman.  Hot colors this   
season:  Pimp, Coconut, Navel, Heist and....TRAILER TRASH." 
The colors shown all look pretty darn "tacky" to me--and I  
ain't talkin' about the paint bein' not quite dry."         
Jean--who thinks laughter is good stuff                     

===============   Reply   39 of Note    1 =================

To:     KFBC86B    JEAN MILLER BELL      Date:    08/30
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:41 PM

Jean: I've always claimed that my Miata's particular color  
is "Hooker Red" in honor of the shade of nail polish local  
working girls wear on their toes, the better to attract the 
attention of passing motorists. We always honk and wave at  
each other -- you know, one of those 'code of the road'     
deals. Anyway, sounds like I may have missed the boat on    
getting that color copyrighted. 'Trailer Trash' indeed.     
Dick in Alaska, where we got lot's of trailers              

===============   Reply   40 of Note    1 =================

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    08/30
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     1:58 PM

I love the idea of the "bridesmaids" as a Greek chorus.  I  
immediately couldn't stand them.  Imagine, at that age,     
still going on about being bridesmaids.  Yech.              

===============   Reply   41 of Note    1 =================

To:     KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Date:    08/30
From:   PDSG17A    MAUREEN DAVIN         Time:     2:33 PM

HI All!! Finished reading TOD yesterday and posted a long   
note only to be dumped off the system just as I was sending 
I really enjoyed this book, especially the cast of          
characters assembled at the house the night before and      
during the funeral.  I too, found the bridesmaids to be a   
curious group. After all it had been over 25 years since    
Laurel had left Mt. Salus.  They reminded me more of a group
of HS girls you'd see at the mall.                          
Someone asked what the singnificance of Becky's handmade    
blouse, I think it was a way to show how different Laurel   
was from her mother.  Becky was a country girl, growing up  
on a mountain in W. VA, rode a horse to school, had the     
skills to make handmade clothing and delicous bread and was 
an avid gardener.  Laurel grew up in a town, daughter of a  
lawyer/judge, moved to Chigaco to go to school and never    
came back.  She wore designer clothes and had a "big job out
of town".  I think their differences are as important as the
differences between Becky and the Mt. Salus group and Fay   
and her family.                                             
Laurel, though, from Mt. Salus, belonged to neither group   
 but she needed both to reconcile her grief over her        
mother's and Philip's death.                                
Even though, I found Laurel to be a somewhat dull and       
grating personality (she wouldn't do what I wanted her to) I
like the EW unfolded the story giving us only a select few  
details and letting us surmise their meaning.               
Thanks Dale for suggesting this book, I know this is one    
that will stick with me for a long time.                    

===============   Reply   42 of Note    1 =================

To:     PDSG17A    MAUREEN DAVIN         Date:    08/30
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     5:25 PM

Maureen & All: Enjoying your comments on TOD. The idea of   
the "bridesmaids" as Greek chorus is a very savvy one, I    
think. And though I don't like or identify with them, I     
think they're an accurately rendered portrayal of a certain 
insulated social strata that might be possible only in a    
town of a certain size, under specific conditions that serve
to sort of freeze the past, and much more likely in the time
in which TOD was written; hard to believe it's some 25 years
  Laurel remarks at one point that she's the only widow and 
[another woman] is the only divorcee; of a group that size, 
over half a lifetime, that would seem a very rare           
circumstance indeed, nowadays, but taken in context of the  
time and place I think it's credible.                       
  I agree with Ruth that people in their 40s and beyond     
whose entire identities are still based in bridesmaid-ness, 
sororities, etc. (or for males, football and fraternities)  
have always been unfathomable and somewhat pathetic to me,  
but in honesty I think I feel a bit of jealousy, too, for   
anybody whose life has been so charmed, or so stable, that  
their past glories aren't done in by harsh reality.         
  Likewise, though Laurel isn't really a character I warmed 
to, I can understand her motivation to hold onto the past in
view of the relatively idyllic childhood she had in Mt.     
Salus--stability, community, a family of some privilege. A  
kind of wonderland, in a way, and I get the feeling that    
Welty's real childhood was somewhat the same: maybe less    
privileged, money-wise, but with parents who loved books,   
learning, and the arts, who read to each other and to her,  
and a community of caring teachers and librarians who       
consistently encouraged her.                                
  I get almost teary-eyed for my own childhood, sometimes,  
and it was a dysfunctional nightmare. I can imagine how     
somebody with a *decent* childhood might be moved to        
romanticize it.                                          
  >>Dale in Ala., who's seeing even the evil Fay in a new   
light after this discussion; will the wonders of CR never   

===============   Reply   43 of Note    1 =================

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/30
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     8:13 PM

Dale, I misread your note at first and thought you were     
referring to the bridesmaids as a "frieze" of the past.  Set
up all kinds of interesting pictures in my head.   I like   

===============   Reply   44 of Note    1 =================

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    08/31
From:   TPRS02A    SABRINA MOLDEN        Time:     9:54 AM

Hi Ann,                                                     
Re:your question about gender differences in expression of  
feelings. I think some people are turtles and others are    
hailstorms. The more turtles have to deal with intense      
feelings; the more they go into their shells. The opposite  
is true of hailstorms. I think more men are turtles because 
of societal expectations but certainly that is not always   
the case. This is more simplistic than it is but has been a 
helpful way for me to think about it given my marriage to a 
true TURTLE. Some would think he is an OPTIMIST. I see him  
as not being able to openly express and deal with his       
feelings. Just because they aren't openly handled doesn't   
mean the feelings are not there. I was thinking that was    
true of the Judge. He went into his shell or his cage and   
didn't come out in the end. I wonder if his surgery forced  
him to deal with his wife's death and he chose to join her. 
Sabrina, whose father died in March and really had strong   
feelings aroused by this book                               

===============   Reply   45 of Note    1 =================

To:     ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Date:    08/31
From:   TPRS02A    SABRINA MOLDEN        Time:     9:54 AM

Hi Dick,                                                    
I found your reaction to Laura to be surprising. I thought  
her reaction to her father's death was not as emotional as  
would be expected. She is an orphan now and like it was     
said, she has no one. For me, my father's death has         
been a major "life-changing event";no one can serve the     
same purpose in my life as a father. Certainly, I felt      
"crazy"(nothing like my former self) during the             
prefuneral,funeral,postfuneral process as I had the major   
responsibility for those preparations. I don't think I will 
ever get back to life as it once was although I'm no longer 
in that "fog". Maybe I personalized the story too much. I   
could relate to a lot of Laura's issues, especially         
regarding her father's wife. As to Fay, I thought Welty     
presented a realistic characterization of that sort of      
person, especially the Southern version. I run across Fay   
and her family everyday. By the way, they come in all       
different colors and classes in my view.     Sabrina        

===============   Reply   46 of Note    1 =================

To:     TPRS02A    SABRINA MOLDEN        Date:    08/31
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:    11:47 AM

Sabrina: I think your "turtle-versus-hailstorm" theory of   
gender differences, re: emotional upheavals, is right on the
money. It's definitely true in my case, and also for many   
couples I know.                                             
  What's more, it seems to me that extremes of each type    
often end up married to one another, for very complicated   
reasons. Interestingly enough, I find that my wife and I    
have both moved gradually toward a more centrist position   
(like the Democrats?) during the 15 years we've been     
together, which were more than a little rocky at times.     
  I knew we'd reached a watershed a couple of years ago when
we were having an, heated discussion, and *she*   
told *me* to calm down. Amazing. When it dawned on us what  
had happened, we started laughing and couldn't stop.        
  Garrison Keillor does a great routine about the emotional 
differences in his family. His mother's branch handles anger
like a string of small firecrackers, he says: "Pow, pow,    
pow, and in a minute it's all over. Whereas my father's     
family handles anger like a radiation leak..."              
  >>Dale, leaking radiation but not as much as formerly, in 

===============   Reply   47 of Note    1 =================

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    08/31
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:59 PM

Dale & Sabrina: One of my undigested, unwritten, not to     
mention unposted notes on this thread has to do with        
male/female writer issues Marty raised awhile back, and     
applying them to our last two novels: "Suttree" and "The    
Optimist's Daughter". I thought these books (respectively)  
were  quintessentially male and female in their 'feel' and  
approach to the story and that they illumined many facets of
that discussion. More later, maybe.                         
Dick in Alaska off for the 3 mile morning constitutional    

===============   Reply   48 of Note    1 =================

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    08/31
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     8:09 PM

Just finished THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER this afternoon and,   
for the first time, waited to read these notes until the    
end.  Sometimes I need them to help me make on-going        
insights into a book, but this time it worked better to     
read your impressions after I'd formed some of mine.        
  The title I thought had to do with who Laurel, her father 
and many of the townspeople were...that sense that you are  
good middle class people, removed from the kinds of care    
that Becky and Fay had as they were growing up, and,        
because of that, everything will go well for you...kind of  
a 50's sit-com kind of existence.  And, when things don't   
go well...such as Becky's prolonged and bitter              
illness...instead of confronting it, you just               
pretend it isn't really happening because that's the only   
way you know how to survive.  Her father faced the eye      
operation in the same way...he seemed to just remove        
himself from the whole process.  And, he even preferred to  
have it done by one of his own kind, rather than opting     
for the greater skills of a doctor that he didn't know.     
I had the feeling that Laurel had reacted to her husband's  
death in much the same manner, burying it deeply and going  
on with all the social rituals.  And, finally, with her     
father's death and such a ready target as Fay, she had the  
opportunity to finally say a little of what was bottled up  
inside of her.                                              
  As to why Laurel was reading her mother's mail instead of 
her father's...remember that when she found his desk drawer 
empty, she said that, of course, it would be soon   
as he was done with a piece of paper, it was thrown away.   
And, it would be just like that with his letters from       
Becky, even those would be destroyed.  What a constrast     
Becky was...saving every piece of memorabilia while her     
husband had none.  It seems sort of symbolic of who they    
were.  But, that also made it interesting to me that Laurel 
then burned all of her mother's papers in the end.  Maybe   
she was severing that tie with the almost ethereal          
existence of her memory...but she was also doing what her   
father would have done with his papers.                     
  It was interesting to me too that Laurel said that Becky  
knew that there was someone like Fay waiting to come into   
their lives...or, at least, her father's life.  Did she     
mean that because Becky too had come from a lower social    
strata, just like Fay?  Or because her father was so        
vulnerable because of his naivete about life to someone who 
is more of a survivor?                                      
  I think the phrase "deceptively simple" used so often in  
this thread is very appropriate to this book.  I started it 
thinking that it reminded me of much of the 50's fiction    
I've read...sort of sterile with everyone following social  
routines, etc., but then it went off into so much more.  It 
has that open quality without things pinned down that I     
like so much in certain short stories.                      
  Thanks for the recommendation, Dale.              Barb    

===============   Reply   49 of Note    1 =================

To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 08/31 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 8:09 PM Theresa, I think I'm the one who confused the issue. I posted on DELTA WEDDING this summer after I listened to it on tape. Picked it up from the library because of Dale's comments on Welty. Hope you still try THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER! Barbara =============== Reply 50 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 08/31 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 8:45 PM Sabrina, Thank you for your reply. I found your analogy of "turtles" and "hailstorms" very helpful. I think that we have a lot in common. My father's death was also a watershed in my life, which affected me far more than I ever would have anticipated. Also, my husband is definitely a turtle, while I come from a long line of hailstorms. Your statement that "just because feelings are not openly handled does not mean that they are not there" is very wise, and something that "hailstorms" like me tend to forget. In THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER , I think that the judge was definitely a turtle, but I never doubted his deep and abiding love for Becky. Dale, I enjoyed your comments, as always. I am not sure why emotional opposities so often end up married to each other. I suspect it is, in part, an unconscious striving for balance. Ann =============== Reply 51 of Note 1 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 08/31 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 10:47 PM Like Barbara, I waited until I had finished the book to read this thread -- you should all be very proud of yourselves! I especially liked the "bridesmaids as Greek chorus" analogy; this whole book reminded somewhat of a three act play. I'm a turtle (from a long line of turtles), and when my father (the King Turtle) remarried, he choose a woman who, though nothing like Fay, is very much a hailstorm. The first time I saw her "go off," I was utterly and completely appalled. Yet the next day, it was as if nothing happened. I remember thinking, "If I was mad enough to yell like that, I'd never be able to speak to that person ever again." But it must work -- they've been married eleven years! Maureen, I also enjoyed your comment that "Laurel wasn't doing what you wanted her to do." I always react to characters like that with mixed emotions. On one hand, they're behaving "wrong," but on the other, the book isn't predictable. Peggy =============== Reply 52 of Note 1 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 08/31 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:35 PM Hi All, Like Barbara and Peggy, I waited to read this thread until I had finished the novel. I have also enjoyed the discussion. I was struck by the fact that both of Laurel's parents were losing their vision and were isolated from other members of the family. Even with the Judge's favorite books, Laurel could not break through the shell (a turtle, Sabrina) that the Judge had erected around himself. I really liked Laurel because she is a reserved person, as I am (although sometimes I act like a hailstorm). Sherry mentioned that bird was significant to her, and it was to me as well. The bird spent the whole night slamming into the door where Laurel was enclosed. And it was during this night that she finally allowed herself to grieve for the three losses in her life. In the morning, she had the courage to go out and face life and the bird. I join others in thanking Dale for nominating this book. Jane in lovely Colorado. =============== Reply 53 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/01 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 0:20 AM Dick in Alaska, I love your sense of humor. Your posts always make me ! Jean who needs as many 's as possible in Pittsburgh =============== Reply 54 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/02 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 12:36 PM Hi Dick, I think I agree with you regarding male/female differences between Suttree and TOD. As hard as I tried, I couldn't relate to or understand the point of Suttree. I honestly said to myself that it might be a "man thing" that I'm not getting. However, there were many of other women who liked it. Interesting.... Sabrina =============== Reply 55 of Note 1 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 09/02 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 12:36 PM Hi All, Jane, your comments on the bird gives me the opportunity to admit to a thought that I had. Could the bird have represented the Judge's spirit? After my father's death, I began to have this secret notion that his spirit dwelled in the squirrels in my yard. They seemed to be friendlier than usual, coming up closer to me. I didn't share this with others but my grandmother (father's mother) told me that my father dwelled in a bird that visited her windowsill in the mornings. I wonder if this is a common grief reaction. I wonder if Welty knew this or experienced this. I wonder if she was referring to this on some level. The Judge continuing in his desire to break free? Another thought I had was that the marriage to Fay was the Judge's cure for loneliness and the need to nurture. Maybe Becky knew about the fears and needs that he was unable to openly express; having been married to a turtle for 20 years,I feel that I know more about his vulnerabilities than he's willing to acknowledge or admit. The Judge did marry Fay soon after asking Laurel to go away with him on a trip. About marrying a complementary partner---maybe its an unconscious desire to grow more in the opposite area. I have needed to learn to hold back on feelings and definitely have learned that over time. Sabrina =============== Reply 56 of Note 1 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 09/02 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 12:36 PM Dale, I'm sorry to say this. I really don't believe in stereotypes either. However, didn't you think of the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES (TV show and movie) when Fay's relatives came to visit? I agree with you about the crowd in Mt. Salus as being part of the culture of many small Southern towns. Those who have not experienced this may have a hard time understanding it. I am one who has moved back to the town where I grew up. I often see childhood friends and teachers. I really enjoy these encounters when we often reminisce. I also belong to the graduate chapter of my sorority, an involvement that I very much enjoy. Friends of mine who are not Southern-born or, who, perhaps are not as extroverted (?) as I am can not understand my savoring of these particular aspects of my life. This is to say that I felt right at home with the Bridesmaids and People of the Community visitors in this novel. They were all present at my father's wake and funeral with probably similar conversations as went on in TOD. They were all trying to figure out the relationship between me and my father's wife. Yes, really, just like in TOD. The book was realistic to me in many ways. Sabrina, wondering if life is composed of a finite number of stories that are played out and then written about over and over again. =============== Reply 57 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 09/02 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:49 PM Sabrina: I don't know too much about southern class warfare, but all the snide comments in 'TOD' about Fay's family being a bunch of Baptists, as opposed to all the neat, clean and well advised Presbyterians in Laurel's circle certainly seemed pointed in that direction. I was always under the impression, though, that the Episcopals were the southern elite -- maybe Laurel and company were just stuck in the middle. Incidentally, regarding the 'greek chorus' (great metaphor, by the way), can anyone recall a fairly recent (I mean within the last 20 years or so ) movie in which a group of aging southern belles run around together, hovering over one of their number, very much like the group in this story? When I read it, it reminded me of something I'd seen or read elsewhere, and I haven't been able to place it. Anyone? Dick in Alaska, just another broken down Methodist =============== Reply 58 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 09/02 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:41 PM Sabrina, I, too, had little patience with Suttree himself, although I enjoyed the book. TOD is much more my kind of book. I tend to gravitate towards books about human relationships. I guess you could say that's a female thing. I read somewhere that females focus on the relationship/interaction/psychological thing because they historically were without power so long, that the only way to survive or have any power was to figure things out (and operate) from the inside. Ruth =============== Reply 59 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/02 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 2:42 PM Ruth: When I posted earlier about 'Suttree' being a masculine book and TOD a feminine one, I meant it in the sense you describe -- kind of a pop psychology gender deal, of the sort exemplified by "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus". I think, in general, the discourse on CR shows that sorting books and readers by gender (or anything else) doesn't make any major amount of sense. Where, for example, would we put 'The Sound and the Fury' on the genderial spectrum? Androgynous enough to make Faulkner's relationship with Estelle downright suspect is what I say. Dick in Alaska, hiding out from yard work =============== Reply 60 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/02 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 4:12 PM Dick, Maybe the movie you're thinking of is STEEL MAGNOLIAS? That's a personal favorite of thinking this is probably a woman thing...did any of you males like that movie? Regarding the snide comments about Fay's family being Baptists, when I was growing up I found these class distinctions and prejudices against other religions rampant. It almost seemed to follow the old adage that everyone has to have someone to look down upon. I grew up in an American Baptist church in which everyone quickly informed others that it was *American*, not *Southern* Baptist, as they felt themselves well above the other group. The older people in my church firmly believed that only American Baptists were truly going to heaven. And, when a relatively new minister held a New Year's Eve service in which each family came and knelt at the altar together, he was dismissed within 6 months, because the elders felt that only Catholics kneel (horrors!). Of course, he was the best and most enlightened minister we'd had. I came out of that experience more than a bit jaded about organized religion. Does anyone have any thoughts about the nature of Becky and the Judge's illnesses? I was puzzled that both of them began with eye problems and proceded to death, for accuracy's sake. But, more important, I wondered if the fact that it had to do with their vision might have some significance...maybe that each of their perspectives was fatally limited? Barbara =============== Reply 61 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/02 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 4:31 PM Dick, I wasn't trying to characterize the books as masculine/feminine, so much as the reader. Ruth, who still hasn't laid her hands on a copy of AS I LAY DYING =============== Reply 62 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/02 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 6:50 PM Barb: Boy, I've sure seen that 'run off the new preacher' syndrome before. Or 'new priest' for that matter. Some new, innovative, imaginative person shows up and the congregation or parish immediately lines up to toss 'em out. Funny that should have given you a jaundiced view of religion; it's given me a jaundiced view of democracy. Dick in Alaska, taking the children to 'Q-Zar' (don't ask) =============== Reply 63 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/02 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:22 PM Dick, Sabrina, Barbara (fellow Hoosier), and all, It is now time for me to admit in public that I am one of "God's frozen Chosen", i.e. a Presbyterian, and my Dad's family are mainly Baptists, and my husband is a Catholic. It wasn't until recently that I discovered that he wasn't kidding when he told me that the Roman Catholic church referred to non-Catholics as "pagan babies". Yes, I will admit that I am a pagan baby. All of this Christian nit-picking is enough to drive a person crazy. On Friday, I had a "discussion" with one of our Physics teachers about the reliability of the Bible. He believes that every bit of it is divinely inspired, and I affirm that most of it was written by men. Therefore, we have a view of women in the Old Testament that is rather skewed. Jane who has family members who ressemble Fay. =============== Reply 64 of Note 1 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 09/02 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 9:32 PM Hmm. A physics teacher, you say? Guess if he was going to be a scientist he picked the right field. Almost anything else would have been a monumental challenge to his beliefs. But even so, he's gonna have to pretty much stick to the ballistic pendulum. Lynn =============== Reply 65 of Note 1 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 09/02 From: FDLX59B MARY ANNE PAPALE Time: 9:51 PM All, Some additional questions I have been pondering about TOD: Fay was resentful of the take over of what had become her home after the Judge's death. Why then were Becky's things still around in that house? Why hadn't Laurel gone through them long before? Or why hadn't Fay herself pitched them? Deceptively simple, indeed. MAP =============== Reply 66 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/02 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 10:10 PM Dick, My kids have been to Q-Zar in Toronto. Be careful, it's addicting...I'm glad there aren't any local ones. Barb =============== Reply 67 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/03 From: EUCR61A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 2:58 PM Barb: I checked with my friend the general surgeon who suggested that Becky's illness sounded something like a brain tumor, or at least progressive cancer effecting the nervous system. He thinks the judge just went because when you force old, fat people to undergo surgery and then to lie in bed for three weeks without moving they tend to die -- congestive heart failure, pulmonary disfunction, you name it. He advises that age is the greatest predictor of surgical risk. He thought Fay's slapping the old guy around to get him up and moving was right on the money -- can't let these sick people lie around and feel sorry for themselves; make 'em mad enough to live, recover and get even with you for the mistreatment. One final note on Becky: as my first wife was dying she exhibited signs of mental stress much like Becky. It isn't easy to die, particularly when you feel it's before your time and when you feel it closing in on you, unfairly but inexorably. The dying will say and do things that in any other circumstances would be unforgivable. About all the survivors (temporary though that status is) can do is pretend that all is well and get through each day as best they can. I don't know whether that is 'optimism' but it's how I got through the experience without prescription drugs. Dick in Alaska, already a dismayingly high-risk candidate for surgery due to the advances of time =============== Reply 68 of Note 1 =================  
To: EUCR61A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/03 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 7:06 PM Dick, Many thanks for checking with your doctor friend regarding the medical diagnoses in TOD. It was something I had really wondered about as well. And, yes, I understand very well what you are saying about how the dying can say and do things that you might otherwise find very difficult to understand and forgive. Before my father's painful death from lung cancer, I had this image that people died gracefully and with dignity like they do in the movies, saying warm hearted good-byes to all their loved ones. Surprise -- as you pointed out, it ain't easy dying, even if you have always believed in an afterlife as my Dad did. In retrospect, I guess I just hope I do as well as he did when my time comes. I felt that Welty's treatment of Becky's death and the judge's attempt to cope was very realistic. Ann =============== Reply 69 of Note 1 =================  
To: FDLX59B MARY ANNE PAPALE Date: 09/03 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:39 PM Mary Anne, I think that Becky's things were still in the house because it was still Becky's house to Faye. After all, Faye and the judge had been married only a short time. I have a colleague who married a widower and moved into his house. He still had pictures of his late wife hanging on the wall, even after the two of them had been married several years. Strange things do happen! Jane who felt a bit sorry for Faye but who doesn't like helpless women (or men for that matter). =============== Reply 70 of Note 1 =================  
To: EUCR61A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/03 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:54 PM Dick, Thanks a lot for the info...of course, a brain tumor...why didn't I think of that? And, the Judge's death sounds plausible too, but maybe not awfully likely. It seems like there would have been some other signs, but I'm probably getting too picky...I also suspected that his doctor was a wee bit incompetent. I know exactly what you mean about the behavior of the dying. My mother died at 51 of cancer and, though I was too young to remember much, my siblings got some of it. And, she was a woman who had always tried, and continued at times to try, to be in control. When my dad died a few years ago, I experienced it first hand. I must say that I have a lot of empathy for this anger and bitterness toward death. My father did not accept any of his aging process gracefully; I'm guessing that this is partially why he lived to age 84 despite a persistent smoking habit. And,he didn't accept death nicely either until the very end when he simply went inside himself. I have a feeling that I may be much the same, particularly since my reaction to problems with my back and my decreasing ability to focus visually is usually the same kind of anger I saw in my father. Where do those folks come from who accept their mortality so gracefully? Barb =============== Reply 71 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/03 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:39 PM Barb: Where do such saintly, long suffering folks come from? Acting school, I think. Dick in Alaska, cussing his bifocals since the day they entered his life =============== Reply 72 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/04 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 2:49 AM Dick, my goodness, a first wife who died -- I assume it's well past and that sympathies aren't exactly in order, but my gosh, I can't let it go unremarked upon. Surely that's a passage of sorts that must have been difficult to say the least (for you, I mean; but of course, for her too). Anyhow, I wanted to mention, after your talk on Becky and old folks lying around and congestive heart failure and so on, something I read a year or so ago about American medical care vs. (for some reason I no longer recall) Italian. This Italian hospital had only two sets of "paddles" and whatever other modern, up-to-date equipment goes with attempts to restart someone's heart -- and it was a good-sized hospital with seven or eight floors. When asked how they decided who got the paddles if more than two needed them at one time, the Italian doctors shrugged and said: "The youngest." How ghastly! I thought in my American way. Good thing we have paddles on every floor here, paddles in every wing, paddles on crash carts, in ERs and ORs. Paddles o' plenty, you might say. Then, further on in that same article, I read that some huge percentage of patients who are revived by paddles never leave the hospital. And during that last hospital stay they spend more in medical bills than in the rest of their lives up to that point. And the ones who do survive to go home? The youngest. Kinda makes ya think. Lynn =============== Reply 73 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/04 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 6:34 AM Dick, I went through the bifocals introduction two years does get better. The trick is to get a separate pair to use for the computer that's a monofocal (is that a word?), usually an in-between prescription, so that you don't break your neck by having to lean back to use the bottom half all the time. I didn't wear glasses until I was 40 and simply have whatever that word is that means that my ocular muscles won't flex as tightly as they need to (along with some other muscles as well), so I basically just have a magnification prescription. If you are the same, just go to a discount or drug store and pick up a pair of those over-the-counter reading glasses after trying them on to find the right magnification. I have a number of pairs of them hanging around here and they work great for the computer and the piano. Barb =============== Reply 74 of Note 1 =================  
To: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Date: 09/04 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:18 AM Lynn: I've read some of those same statistics regarding recovery rates for the elderly in hospital and the associated costs. My father, who has a checkered health history to say the least (by-pass surgery, lung cancer, and colon cancer, just to cover the last decade) is determined they won't get him that way. He wants to take a gun with him to the hospital -- not to commit suicide, but to shoot anybody who's trying to put him on a life support system or to resuscitate him. He says he has not desire to die, but that he's been close enough to death, often enough, to know that dying has got to be worse than being dead, and when it's time, it's bloody well time. Cheeful little thread we've got going here, eh? I do think the judge's passing was a little 'Ali McGraw' (remember her flawless passing from leukemia in 'Love Story'?), but then Eudora Welty is a pretty gentile lady and wouldn't have put the disgusting parts in, anyway. Dick in Alaska noting the return of the Hon. Warbasse, elsewhere on this board =============== Reply 75 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/04 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:23 AM Barb: I've had bifocals for 10 years now, but like any good Republican at heart, I am resistant to change. You're right on all counts: I've got a dozen pairs of glasses scattered throughout my life, and still can't find a pair when I need one. Dick in Alaska, really looking forward to tri-focals =============== Reply 76 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/04 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:50 PM Dick and Barb, My heart cries for you, it really does. I haven't been able to see the big E on the eye chart since the age of 8. That's something like 20/400,folks. My recurring nightmare is that when the Big Disaster hits (earthquake, bomb, plane or auto crash, etc.) my glasses or contacts will be knocked loose and my vision will be limited to 6 inches in front of my nose. That may sound funny to you, but it's scary to me. Now for the glasses. I have contact lenses, trifocals to wear over my contact lenses, what I refer to as my "nose glasses" to wear when I'm not wearing contacts (they're bifocals, computer glasses to wear over my contacts, computer glasses to wear when I'm not wearing contacts, glove compartment glasses (for when I forget to bring my trifocals with), plus about a half-dozen of the cheapies from the drugstore (none of which I can use, why don't I throw them away?). Even my glasses have glasses. Just to tie this all in to our purported subject matter, I think the fact that I wasn't discovered to be nearsighted until I was 8 is at least partially what turned me into a bookworm. NOBODY ever wanted me on their ball team, and no wonder. I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. When your world extends barely 6 inches beyond the end of your nose, what can you do besides read or pick cuticles? I wonder how many other CRs are nearsighted. I've read somewhere that there does seem to be some sort of correlation between obsessive reading and nearsightedness. Ruth, who after 34 years of 18 hour days in hard contacts, "hit the wall" (in her doctor's words) and has been struggling since June to get acclimated to the gas-permeable type (which require more tears to "float" on).... =============== Reply 77 of Note 1 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 09/04 From: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Time: 2:07 PM Greetings! Newcomer here, though not to Prodigy. Just wanted to enter a quick three cheers for your feisty father. Thank him for putting words to something I've suspected for a while. Blue =============== Reply 78 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/04 From: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Time: 2:14 PM Greetings! Woefully nearsighted and have a morbid fear of balls rushing toward my face, (There was a wonderfully risque joke along those lines in Clueless. Liked the movie more than I expected to. Then again, how can you go wrong by using dear Aunt Jane as a source?)and I've been reading since I was four. My husband keeps warning me that I'm using up all of the words and if I don't slow my reading pace down there won't be words enough for anyone else. I suspects he exaggerates. (Actually, I suspect that he lies like a rug.) Blue =============== Reply 79 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/04 From: SCYV62A TERESA HESS Time: 2:57 PM I'm not sure about the nearsightedness and obsessive reading correlation, Ruth, but my mother swears I ruined my vision in childhood from reading under the covers with a flashlight. No lights out for me...I spent an inordinate amount of my own allowance on batteries. My husband, who wakes up at the slightest hint of a light on, bought me a glorified version of the flashlight for my middle-of-the-night reading marathons. Turns out this contraption, dubbed "The Itty Bitty Book Light" has an incredibly bright little halogen bulb that will send spots reeling across your eyes if you look right at it. The first time I turned it on, he sat bolt upright in bed and said he felt like he was in a police raid. The booklight now rests somewhere at the bottom of a drawer and I travel to a different bedroom for my reading in the wee hours. Teresa, who has THE DEBT TO PLEASURE on order at the've tempted me so =============== Reply 80 of Note 1 =================  
To: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Date: 09/04 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 6:23 PM Greetings to you, Blue, and welcome to CR. If you're an obsessive reader, you have found a cyberspace home. We have a list of books, which you can get from Sherry, but we also discuss any other books here on CR, and anything else on CR Salon. What have you been reading lately? Ruth =============== Reply 81 of Note 1 =================  
To: SCYV62A TERESA HESS Date: 09/04 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 6:25 PM Hi Theresa, we tried the Itty Bitty Booklight, too. What a no go. It's so bright the reflection off the page ricochets right into the sleepers eyes. Ruth, whose husband reads in bed,too,and later than she does. =============== Reply 82 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/04 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 6:41 PM Teresa, without the H, I've been screwing up all morning. Forgive me. I knew it was you, but my fingers didn't. Ruth =============== Reply 83 of Note 1 =================  
To: SCYV62A TERESA HESS Date: 09/04 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 6:45 PM Teresa, (without the H), I'm sorry. I bet you get sick of people doing that. I KNOW you're going to love THE DEBT TO PLEASURE. Do post when you finished it. Although when you try to talk about it you're going to find the same problem that Sherry and I did. Ruth, who was going to e-mail you about this one =============== Reply 84 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/04 From: PDSG17A MAUREEN DAVIN Time: 9:11 PM Barb and all, I thought the Dr seemed a little incompetent as well. I also got the impression that he might have missed something in his diagnosis of Becky. It's interesting that both the Judge's and Becky's medical troubles started with vision problems. In both instances it seems to signal the beginning of their loss of independence. While Becky's illness is much more serious, the Judge just seemed to give up on life. I've owned glasses since I was 8, for nearsightedness and an astigmatism. It took me till I was 21 to wear my glasses all the time (purely for reasons of vanity). When I was growing up my Mom couldn't understand my and my brother's need to wear glasses -- she had great vision. Later she became farsighted then she developed a rare eye disease which took her vision in one eye and a cataract in the "good" eye. These problems and the ensuing loss of driving independence have not been accepted gracefully, since she's only in her early 60's. But she's fine and learning how to work with it. For many independence is key to living and loss of independence is reason enough to just give up and fade away. Maureen - who regained her independence today the 1st day of school =============== Reply 85 of Note 1 =================  
To: PDSG17A MAUREEN DAVIN Date: 09/04 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 9:33 PM Maureen, as soon as they stuck glasses on my nose (when I was 8) I lived in them every waking minute of the day. My mom, who didn't like the looks of "my beautiful daughter in glasses" kept asking me if I really thought I needed them. (Ha!) One day, at the eye doctor's she said to him, "Does she really HAVE to wear them all the time?" He didn't answer, just fiddled with some of those stacks of lenses they have and then plopped a set on her nose. "That's what things look like to her without glasses," he said. "Oh," she said. And never ever asked me to take off my glasses again. The loss of sight in Judge and Becky's case can also be taken in a metaphorical way, too. The world, drawing in, closing down. When I'm sick, I don't wear my glasses. Then I don't have to deal with the outside world. Maybe something like this was going on with them. Or maybe their loss of sight made them too focussed on inside, on themselves, etc. Ruth =============== Reply 86 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/04 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:41 PM Wow, Ruth, I feel guilty. My vision was perfect until age fact, I was even a wee bit vain about it (how can you be vain about something that's a genetic gift?) . Felt so helpless when the eye doctor gave me the jovial bit about the muscles just not working like they once did. However, sometimes I think that my frustration now is in payment for not being sympathetic enough about the panic my husband (who is *very* nearsighted) felt when he couldn't find his glasses. And, the thought of ever losing my vision is enough to cause an anxiety attack. I can't even consider it for very long. Barb =============== Reply 87 of Note 1 =================  
To: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Date: 09/04 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:41 PM Blue, Another welcome to Constant Reader here! This is definitely the place for compulsive readers. If your husband was right, the world would've run out of words long ago, just as a result of the reading appetites of the folks on this board. What are you reading? And, where did you get your cyber-name? Barb =============== Reply 88 of Note 1 =================  
To: SCYV62A TERESA HESS Date: 09/04 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:41 PM Teresa, The story about your husband's reaction to "The Itty Bitty Book Light" had me chuckling. And, thanks for the warning...I've always been curious about those. Richard, Nice to know someone else is keeping the makers of those drugstore glasses in business. Barb =============== Reply 89 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/04 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 10:30 PM Ruth - I went through 4th and 5th grades unable to see the blackboard, and assuming nobody else could see it either. The school had apparently called my home after I flunked the yearly vision test (remember those?) but my mother thought the call was about one of my sisters. She got some darling little pink harlequins, although it turned out she didn't really need glasses at all. I think the optometrist made some easy money on that one. Theresa =============== Reply 90 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/04 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:02 PM Ruth, I'm very much farsighted with astigmatism and have worn glasses since age 6. I also wear gas permeable lens over which I have to wear my bifocals to read. Then there are my computer glasses and my piano glasses and the REAL glasses for when I don't wear contacts. The trick is for my husband to know which pair I want when I'm asking for them. Just wanted to let you know we have this common affliction . By the way, an interesting book for all to read is HOW WE DIE by NULAND; I found this book to be spell-binding. Sabrina =============== Reply 91 of Note 1 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 09/05 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 0:31 AM Theresa, that's how they caught my nearsightedness, the school vision test. I was just like you. I just assumed nobody else could see trees had separate leaves. Ruth, who foolishly thought (when she was younger) that the presbyopia of age would cancel out the myopia. What a dreamer! =============== Reply 92 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 09/05 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 0:33 AM Sabrina, my husband never knows which glasses I want either. My mother sent me HOW WE DIE, a few months ago and I put it away without reading it. I guess turning 60 last year has made me all to aware of the fatal disease called life and I just didn't want to read this book. Maybe before I'm 70. Ruth =============== Reply 93 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/05 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 0:34 AM Barb, tell your husband that you're an unsympathetic wretch and that I know JUST how he feels. Ruth =============== Reply 94 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 09/05 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 0:37 AM I think I've got you all beat in the bad vision contest. I've worn glasses (or contacts) since I was fourteen months old (doctors told my parents I couldn't see the floor); I have a severe astigmatism coupled with extreme nearsightedness and lazy eye (the latter only in my right eye). --The Irrepressible DJP 9/4/96 11:06PM CT =============== Reply 95 of Note 1 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 09/05 From: NMTT86A JAMES HEATH Time: 1:59 AM This is really getting morbid. And has anyone else noticed that the accepted CR abbreviation for this book is TOD, the German word for death? . To strike a more responsive note, here follows a short word from the late Jane Kenyon on dying fathers: "Reading Aloud to My Father" I chose the book haphazard from the shelf, but with Nabokov's first sentence I knew it wasn't the thing to read to a dying man: "The cradle rocks above an abyss," it began, "and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness." The words disturbed both of us immediately, and I stopped. With music it was the same -- Chopin's piano concerto -- he asked me to turn it off. He ceased eating, and drank little, while the tumors briskly appropriated what was left of him. But to return to the cradle rocking. I think Nabokov had it wrong. This is the abyss. That's why babies howl at birth, and why the dying so often reach for something only they can apprehend. At the end they don't want their hands to be under the covers, and if you should put your hand on theirs in a tentative gesture of solidarity, they'll pull the hand free; and you must honor that desire, and let them pull it free. -- Jim in Oregon (who may be qualified for the All-American Turtle Team ) =============== Reply 96 of Note 1 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 09/05 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:21 AM Marty & All: Hmmm. I think I discern another common statistical thread among CRs here, i.e. the vision thing. (I used to think it was just our divorce rate.) Count me as another lifetime low-visioner. A severe congenital astigmatism wasn't discovered until a first-grade vision test (right eye 20/20, left eye 20/400), and by that time the doctors said it was too late to do the ol' black-patch trick and force the "lazy" eye to start carrying its weight. As a result, I never knew the thrill of having stereoscopic vision (though I wasted some money during the 3-D movie craze in hopes I could get the hang of it) and was guaranteed last-pick for any ball team in childhood. In 1990 or so, an opthamologist talked me into trying a new, advanced contact to bring my left eye up to speed. Bingo, stereoscopic sight. I felt like I was in a bad 3-D movie, things always looming and tilting eerily at the edges of my vision. Plus I had recurrent headaches and vertigo, and an excruciating case of the jitters that eased only when I took out my contact. My best guess was that after 40 years of learning to "tune out" the unfocused blob my left eye saw, the ol' brain was not happy about having to process an overload of new information in the visual cortex. So I gave up...and with a newfound empathy for my great-grandfather who resisted wearing a new-fangled hearing aid in his 80s because it "made him nervous." I thought he was just being stubborn. Oddly enough, I can play a decent game of racquetball now and do other things that require 3-D vision; the opthamologist theorizes it's something called "learned stereoscopic sight," in which the brain fakes it by interpolating from the exact size of an object how far away it is. This was borne out when my car blew a fuse one night and the dashboard lights went dead. I couldn't tell where I was in the road, because I had no reference point to "fake" the distance with. Strange. Being effectively one-eyed is no great problem now, except when I renew my driver's license and take the vision pop-quiz at the license counter. They always revoke the booger until I produce a letter from the doc. >>Dale, who will have his car at the CR gathering in Nashville and is not trying to dissuade anybody from riding with him as he's been accident-free for 30 years, knock on wood... =============== Reply 97 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/05 From: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Time: 12:06 PM Greetings! Summer is my time for wallowing gloriously in Trashy Novels and that includes the Bodice Ripper and not a few Steven Kings. Now, to redeem myself somewhat, I have finished my yearly re-read of Pride and Prejudice and have recently discovered Barbara Pym. (Can't believe how much I hated P&P in the 9th grade. Oh well, all good things come to those who wait. I guess.) Pym is the closest thing I've found to a latter day Aunt Jane. (Happy, happy, joy, joy! Trenchant observations on some of the more annoying aspects of the human condition please me inordinately.) I've been looking at my old copy of As I Lay Dying. Think I may wade in once again. Then again..... The thought of encountering Anse Bundren in all of his awfulness ( I almost typed awful mess. There are no accidents....) is daunting. My latest is a non-fiction piece called A God Who Looks Like Me: Discovering A Woman-Affirming Spirituality. I'll let you know how worthwhile the slog has been once I'm done. Blue =============== Reply 98 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/05 From: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Time: 12:18 PM Greetings! Blue is what I use even in the meat world. It keeps people who have only known me for twenty seconds from calling me Debby. I'm 43 years old now and haven't exactly ever been a "Debby". Perky just is not within my genetic coding. I've been using Blue since the late '60's. It used to be Blue Starchild then. Yes, I have dropped the Starchild since then. Truth be told, it never really worked. Well, at least not very well. Right now, as atonement for my execrable summer reading habits, (trash, trash and more trash) I'm doing a non-fiction read, A God Who Looks Like Me: Discovering A Woman-Affirming Spirituality. It's a slow slog through some difficult material, emotionally speaking. I think I'll reward myself with The Wind in The Willows when I'm done. It's been entirely too long since my last visit. Blue =============== Reply 99 of Note 1 =================  
To: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Date: 09/05 From: EUCR61A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 3:07 PM Blue: Three cheers, at least, for 'Wind in the Willows'. Possibly the greatest book ever written. Dick in Alaska, who was worried that your signature indicated a state of spiritual funk =============== Reply 100 of Note 1 =================  
To: NMTT86A JAMES HEATH Date: 09/05 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 7:41 PM Jim, Thanks for posting the Kenyon poem --what an interesting way to think about life. Ann =============== Reply 101 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 09/05 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 7:43 PM Sabrina, A friend of mine read HOW WE DIE shortly after her mother passed away and liked it very much. I haven't quite worked up the courage to read it myself. Ann =============== Reply 102 of Note 1 =================  
To: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Date: 09/05 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 7:49 PM Blue, I take it you are a Jane Austen fan. What do you think about the recent films of her work --PERSUASION, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, EMMA, and the TV version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? I liked them all, but PERSUASION was my favorite. Ann =============== Reply 103 of Note 1 =================  
To: NMTT86A JAMES HEATH Date: 09/05 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 11:38 PM Jim, This is about the 3rd thing I've read by Jane Kenyon and have loved all 3. Can you recommend a book of her poetry? I also heard her interviewed with Donald Justice prior to her must've been on Fresh Air. Felt an incredible sense of dignity from her and yet that's not quite the right word. Barb =============== Reply 104 of Note 1 =================  
To: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Date: 09/05 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 11:38 PM Blue, Love your notes. Please, stick around. I have the same reaction to being called "Barbie" (unless it's my family). Perky is not my thing mother, with my personality well in mind, would never buy me those dresses with the trillions of ruffles as a kid. Somehow, they just didn't go with my long legs and skinned knees. Barb =============== Reply 105 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/06 From: NMTT86A JAMES HEATH Time: 2:02 AM Jane Kenyon's OTHERWISE is just out with a nice review in this week's NEW YORKER. It's really a selected poems collection from past work with a few new pieces added. --Jim in Oregon =============== Reply 106 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/06 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 2:14 AM Jim, I've loved the Jane Kenyon poems, too. Next time I'm in the bookstore, I'm going to order a book. So I'd like your recommendation, too. Barb, isn't she the one that was married to Donald Hall. If so, I saw quite an extended program on both of them. Could it have been Bill Moyers? Ruth =============== Reply 107 of Note 1 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 09/06 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 2:33 AM Dale. Just imagine, I have TWO 20/400 eyes. Is it tempting fate that I worked my whatsis off to earn 2 degrees in art. Ruth, another half-blind, multiply married obssessive reader =============== Reply 108 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/06 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 6:36 AM Ruth and Jim, Oops, why don't I just give up on names?!? I either can't remember them at all or I say the wrong ones. Yes, she was married to Donald Hall. I have such a sketchy knowledge of poetry that I'm even more easily confused than usual. Barb...very happy that it is Friday.... =============== Reply 109 of Note 1 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 09/06 From: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Time: 11:16 AM Good Morning! Yes, I am a Jane Austen fan. I haven't seen any of the recent adaptations though. I keep missing P&P and with the exception of Emma, none of the others have made it to the Great Suburban Wasteland that is Laurel, Maryland. My daughter, also a devotee of Dear Aunt Jane, plan to see Emma come Monday. I have yet to read Lady Susan, perhaps for the same reason I'm hoarding the last two of my Travis McGee's: Because there won't be another. Blue the Omniverous Reader =============== Reply 110 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/06 From: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Time: 11:22 AM Greetings! I had a different problem with perky. As a teenager I dressed in black and read The Russians by oil lamp. Eeek!! Portentous or pretentious, it's difficult to say. I guess I wasn't too awful as a teener; my Mom still has all of her hair. Cheers! Blue =============== Reply 111 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/06 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 9:22 PM Ruth and Theresa -- Me too! Fourth grade my eyes were fine, fifth grade -- bam! And I hadn't even noticed them go... Could've cried when I flunked the test, though. I wasn't all that upset about glasses (then), but it felt like such a loss. Remember the shock you felt when you got glasses and could see individual leaves on the trees? Lynn =============== Reply 112 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/06 From: FDLX59B MARY ANNE PAPALE Time: 9:37 PM Ruth, I guess it's time for me to admit that I too am nearsighted, having worn some sort of corrective lenses for 36 years. Whether this is what has turned me into an obsessive reader is another matter. I do have a couple of other hobbies, but unlike my golf game, there's no such thing as a bad shot in reading. I am intrigued by Maureen's observation that both Becky and the Judge's demises began with vision problems. Just another example of Welty's use of the simple-depth paradox that we have already noted on CR so many times. MAP =============== Reply 113 of Note 1 =================  
To: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Date: 09/06 From: FDLX59B MARY ANNE PAPALE Time: 9:41 PM Blue, As a native Greenbelter, transplanted to Pittsburgh, let me welcome you to CR. If you love to read, you've found the right place. Mary Anne =============== Reply 114 of Note 1 =================  
To: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Date: 09/06 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:04 PM O.K. I give up. My kvetching about my bi-focals was ridiculous. I've sat here and read all these sad stories about glasses, and now realize that I am really very fortunate. I got my first glasses in 6th grade -- near-sighted and astigmatism -- and by the time I was 19 the doc said, "Voila, my son, you are cured." I had 20/20 for 20 years, until that ol' debil far-sightedness crept in and put me back in glasses, at least part time. For that 20 years, I am indeed thankful, and promise to stop complaining at least out loud for some reasonable period of time. Dick in Alaska, only marginally afraid of commitment =============== Reply 115 of Note 1 =================  
To: NMTT86A JAMES HEATH Date: 09/07 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 2:39 AM Jim and Barbara, The poem that made me aware of Jane Kenyon (& which remains my favorite) was BACK, which I'm posting below. This is such wonderful poetry. Like Welty's book--deceptively simple--is says so much with such economy and grace. BACK We try a new drug, a new combination of drugs, and suddenly I fall into my life again like a vole picked up by a storm then dropped three valleys and two mountains away from home. I can find my way back. I know I will recognize the store where I used to buy milk and gas. I remember the house and barn, the rake, the blue cups and plates, the Russian novels I loved so much, and the black silk nightgown that he once thrust into the toe of my Christmas stocking. Ruth =============== Reply 116 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/07 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 11:38 AM Ruth, I just got the most recent NYer yesterday with a review of the latest book of Kenyon's poems and the reviewer said that BACK was one of his favorites as well. Barb =============== Reply 117 of Note 1 =================  
To: FDLX59B MARY ANNE PAPALE Date: 09/07 From: RTGH90B DEBORAH SMITH Time: 1:03 PM Greetings! Oooo, to think of it. We've achieved a sort of symetry here. You, a native Marylander, have moved to Pennsylvania. I, a native Pennsylvanian, have moved to Maryland. Isn't that what Kurt Vonnegut referred to as a Grand Falloon? Cheers! Blue =============== Reply 118 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/07 From: PDSG17A MAUREEN DAVIN Time: 3:48 PM Ruth, Thank you for posting that beautiful poem. I have known for several years that a favorite essayist was married to a poet -- Jane Kenyon. I never looked for any of her work. I think I will now. Maureen =============== Reply 119 of Note 1 =================  
To: PDSG17A MAUREEN DAVIN Date: 09/07 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 5:33 PM Barb, Right after I posted that poem I went to bed with the latest New Yorker and lo and behold.... Maureen, glad you liked it. It's long been a favorite of mine. I have a notebook into which I put any poem that catches my fancy. Sort of a Collected Favorites of Ruth Bavetta. That's why I don't know what to say when people ask me who my favorite poet is. I think of my book and how many different poets are in there and how no one poet seems to predominate... Ruth =============== Reply 120 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/07 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 10:01 PM Ruth, Do you think your mother was wanting to share what she feel is happening to her? The book talks about how aging is a form of dying whereby the body slowly wears out. That was one of the interesting perspectives that I learned from HOW WE DIE. However, I can certainly understand how you might not want to read it at this point. Sabrina =============== Reply 121 of Note 1 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 09/07 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 10:01 PM Ann, I happened to read HOW WE DIE BEFORE my father died suddenly and unexpectedly. I'm glad I did. It has been a helpful reference point. I had already gaining a greater understanding and apppreciation of death. The objective understanding seemed to help with the emotions. Reading the book does take courage. However, it is extremely informative and presented in an easily digestible(?) manner. The author gives his first-person account. Although he's a physician, he begins (I think) with the death or the aging process of his grandmother which started his interest with the subject. Sabrina =============== Reply 122 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 09/08 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 0:38 AM I hadn't thought of it that way Sabrina. I have been so concerned because she seems to be so focussed on herself and what's happening to her (which isn't very bad) that she has lost all enjoyment of life. She's gotten better since she got off a 2 year stint of Prednisone. She used to be an enthusiastic person, interested in everything. Now, her focus has so narrowed. She needs to think about something else. She's making herself (and the rest of us) unhappy. Maybe my efforts to interest her in other things, to change the subject when she starts talking about her health AGAIN, are making her think I don't care. I'm glad you brought this up. Ruth =============== Reply 123 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/08 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 9:27 PM Dear Ruth, I have grandmothers in their mid 80s who are in the same place that your mother is in regarding their life views and attitudes. I've resolved for them that this is part of their aging process and they are getting worn out. Its gets frustrating at times trying to give them encouragement for living. Maybe their scared about the reality of their bodily changes and their future life. Is your mother near my grandmothers in age? Sabrina, who dealt with two WEARY grandmothers today and wants you to hang on in there =============== Reply 124 of Note 1 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 09/08 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 10:46 PM dear Sabrina, My mother is 86, just your grandmothers' age. Sigh. That means I'm old enough to be your mother. Double sigh. Seems only yesterday I was 20. But seriously, I understand what you're saying. I probably should find that book, from whereever I stuck it and read the &(*& thing. I'm not squeamish about things medical, its just that turning 60 last year has been traumatic. I'm going to try and understand more, where my mother is in her mind, rather than always trying to make her be the woman she was. But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to cheer her up. Thanks, Ruth =============== Reply 125 of Note 1 =================  
To: FDLX59B MARY ANNE PAPALE Date: 09/09 From: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Time: 3:29 PM Just wanted to note that diabetes is a disease that could result in the complications that resulted in Becky's death. Also, I found it hard to believe that everyone just accepted the Judge's death - there should have been loud questions and much finger-pointing at the doctor. This southern society thing is a bit alien to me, I have never encountered it outside of books. As for the Judge himself, Laurel apparently was a bit contemptuous of his "optimistic" demeanor, particularly as it related to her mother's death; even though she could not express that thought, she buzzed all around it in her reflections. Perhaps she too would like to have shaken her father (though not with Fay's degree of self-righteous self-pity) and asked him why he was letting himself slip away. Everything important about Laurel's feelings and thoughts were hidden in this novel until near the end - this gives Laurel's night in the sewing room the semblance of epiphany, though I'm not ready to venture what that revelation might be. Joe B =============== Reply 126 of Note 1 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 09/14 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 8:34 PM all our COMMUNITY of CR's..learning my scanne r... Jackson. Miss. Twenty- three years ago, reporter for a New Orleans newspaper arrived in Jackson and called Eudora Welty to ask directions to her home. She had won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Optimist's Daughter, he had made an appointment to interview her. Here's what you do, she told him, and after they got the geography straight, she said: "What I'11 do is go outside in a few minutes and wait for you. If you see somebody in a checked dress waving from the doorstep, that's me." Eudora Welty has lived in the same house almost continuously since 1931 when she returned from New York upon the death of her father. At her father's urging, she had been studying at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. "I wanted to get a job so I could stay in New York and go to the theater every night. " she says. "It's not a bad Ambition if you ask me... New York was a place Eudora Welty would have stayed, had her father not died.. oH, YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE THE TIME WE HAD..she says..But she was the oldest of three children and believed her mother needed her in Jackson. She worked at a local radio station, took on free-lance newspaper assignments and for three years, from 1933 to 1936, crossed Mississipppi BY car ,photographing its impoverished people for THE WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION...those pictures later published as "One Time ..ONE PLACE,,. are in their own way a significant documentary record of the time.. But all the while she was writing stories and not being published,and not going to the theater at night with friends. There is no regret in her voice. "I did what I thought I had to do, and anyway, this was my home." she says. The house, she tells you, was built by her father in 1925. "He was an insurance man (president of the Lamar Life Insurance Co.), she says, "and eventualities were much on his mind. As it turned out, he only got to live here a few years. He had leukemia, a disease he'd never even heard of, and was gone in weeks." As she is telling you this, she strains to turn in her parlor chair and direct your attention to the pictures of Christian Welty and Chestina Andrews Welty on the mantel. He was an Ohio Republican, she a West be continued.. =============== Reply 127 of Note 1 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 09/14 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 9:47 PM Yes Ruth. I've found that they don't want cheering up. They just want you to listen. =============== Reply 128 of Note 1 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 09/14 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 10:38 PM Andrews Welty on the mantel. He was an OhioRepublican she a WESTVirginia Democrat, and their firstborn is all but confined now to the house she has been pleased all these years to call home. She never married. and interviewers have been circumspect in asking her why. Her answers have been polite but oblique. She "did not choose" to live alone, she told an interviewer in 1987, and 10 years earlier told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Gayle White: "Various things caused me to stay single. I'm sure I would have been very happy had I married and had children. I'm a natural person in that way. But on the other hand. I've had many compensations. Your personal life is something you work out as you can. DISPLACED PERSON To a degree few writers could ever expect, the compensations have been both literary and public. At 86, Eudora Welty hasn't the strength any longer to hail drivers looking for the right house, but the pilgrimages continue. In a procession as diverse as it is distinguished, the celebrated and the unknown come to Jackson to pay homage and take notes. Besides countless magazine and newspaper writers, the likes of William P. Buckley Jr.. Alice Walker anaAnne Tyler have come to the house on Pinehurst Street. Her friend Reynolds Price once came in behalf of The New York Times, and last sumner the Times called on her again. And then, in the fall. it was nothing less than the government of Prance, not with questions and note pads but with the Legion of Honor. The red brick Tudor-style Welty home is comfortable and reasonably spacious . but the occasion demanded a more solemn setting, and so the state of Mississippi happily made available the Old State Capitol Building. The Legion d'Honneur, which dates back to Napoleon, is the highest award the French bestow, and over from Atlanta to present it came Consul General Gerard Blanchot. *Isn't it pretty?" she says, showing it to a visitor. "I don't know why they w ould give it to me, but I'm grateful to them." Getting the short distance from her bane to the state Capitol was one of the longest journeys she has made in recent months. gail..hp.a passionate reader who has just used her scanner and is mighty proud to share this article with you all! =============== Reply 129 of Note 1 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 09/15 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 8:52 AM Dear gail, Thanks so much for sharing the Eudory Welty information. She sounds like the consummate Southern lady. Wonderful stuff. Sherry =============== Reply 130 of Note 1 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 09/15 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:36 AM Thanks for taking the trouble to post that, gail. I enjoyed it immensely. Can't remember if it's been mentioned here before, but if so it bears repeating---there's a wonderful interview with Welty in PARTING THE CURTAINS: VOICES OF THE GREAT SOUTHERN WRITERS by Dannye Romaine Powell. She talks about a variety of things including her methods of putting stories together. Wouldn't you just love to be allowed to curl up in a corner chair without bothering anyone and listen to her for a few days? That's exactly the image I got when I read what you posted as well as Powell's interview. Barb =============== Reply 131 of Note 1 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 09/15 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 11:28 AM greetings QUEEN OF THE TAPES...BARBARA.. yes it bears repeating...PARTING THE CURTAINS...every few months or bring it to our attention..i do have it written down...but viewing the words in print is even more POTENT! gail..hp..a passionate reader anticipating meeting you next week...finally...



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