Light Summer Reading

Our friend’s cat was a sissy; not only did she run from dogs, but every other feline in the neighborhood cause her to buckle up with fear.  Then our friend fed the kitty (this is a true story) on canned dog food for a couple of weeks.  Now the cat can (and does) fight and whip every beast in the district, cats and canine.  She rules the neighborhood as Tarzan rules the jungle (manufacturers of dog food may have testimonial names and details on request).

Buried beneath ten feet of earth a couple of blocks from our home in Ontario are a two-hundred-million-dollar treasure.  Fortune Magazine (one dollar per copy) is so inspired by this phenomenon that her editors, in the April issue give it six pages of colored pictures and booming epithets.  More costly than the Panama Canal.  Greatest engineering feat in America, says Fortune.  Have you guess what the treasure is? It’s the fame Metropolitan Aqueduct, which will bring more water to Los Angeles every day than all Southern California is using at the present time.

In Ontario’s early pioneer days a great fountain was erected near the Southern Pacific station, to be turned on when trains passed through.  This demonstrated of prospective home-seekers that a water supply was no problem here.  It was just problem enough, however, to cause citizens to turn off the fountain when the train had departed.  This fair city was once spoken of as Chaffey’s Wild Experiment. The colony was laid out in the midst of a desert and plenty of scoffers thought it would never succeed.

Young lad tried to sell us a newspaper.  Failing in his effort, he said;”If I tell you what state you were born in, and where you got your last haircut, will you buy a paper?  And if I tell you wrong, you can have one free.” Of course that was an acceptable proposition.  “You were born in the state of infancy,”he said, “and you got your last haircut in a barbershop.” We bought two papers.

Stumbled in my reading the other night onto three choice views of life (reference here to the eternal struggle, not the new picture magazine).  “From the point of view of morals,” opined Will Durant, “life seems to be divided into two periods; in the first we indulge, in the second we preach.”  To which Zona Gale added this reflection; “I don’t know a better preparation for life than a love of poetry and a good digestion.”  While Josephine Peabody demurred with this gem: “One does not expect in this world; one hopes and pays carfares.”

After all of which it is hard to refrain from mentioning the plump woman who said it seemed as though everything she liked to do in this world was immoral, immodest, or fattening.

Our friend Don Vowles tells this story of the telephone company in his small hometown in North Dakota.  The company, due to scarcity of help in the early morning hours, ruled that patrons could not call Central to ask the time of day before 8 AM. Forgetting the new rule, young farm lass phoned for the time as usual. “Sorry, Mame,”came the Central’s reply, “I can’t give it to you until 8 o’clock.””How long must I wait then?” asked the lass.  And central replied: “Just twenty minutes.”

Trundling up to bed the other evening for a little belated reading I took by mistake, a Home Economics magazine, instead of the Saturday Evening Post.  Here is what I found: Eighty-seven percent of cow’s milk is water…. A quart of milk is heavier than a quart of cream…. Peanuts do not belong to the nut family.  They are kin to the pea and the bean…. Every time you open your refrigerator the temperature is raised one to three degrees….  Ice cream was invented by Dolly Madison, wife of President Madison….  Salt added to water in cooking potatoes reduces the loss of mineral matter one-third…. An egg white added to cream will cause it to whip more easily.

All of which was perhaps just as interesting and valuable as a story by Bud Kelland in the Post.


“What a pity flowers utter no sound”, said Henry Ward Beecher. “A singing rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle, –oh, what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be!”

Had Beecher known Mr. and Mrs. Van Ness of Upland, California, he might have expressed the added hope that water lilies could talk, in order that they might tell the story of this sentient middle-aged couple.

The Van Ness’s are recent acquaintances of ours. Seven years ago (he was then over fifty) Mr. Van Ness had a break in health and the doctor said, “No more inside work.” That presented a problem to one who did not know how to make a living in the out-of-doors.  So both of them started wondering and searching and reading.  An article in the Saturday Evening Post took their attention; it was called Gold from Goldfish, and they wondered if they could not make money in the way that the article suggested.

But no, investigation showed that the Japanese monopolized this field.  In the meantime, however, they had become interested in a related field water lily culture.  Neither of them knew the first thing about aquatic plants.  But they decided to learn.

They built a beautiful home almost entirely by their own labor.  They laid out pools and gardens. They worked and studied and worked some more.  Today the Van Ness Water Gardens are a spot of brilliant splendor in the foothills above Upland.  More than 120 varieties of lily are cultivated there; eastern markets as well as flower lovers all over the Southland are writing in for shipments.  The Van Ness’s are gaining for themselves a means of health and livelihood.  They are winning state and national recognition and their pools are a gathering-place for lovers of beauty. Theirs is a dramatic story.


Spencer Jewell is ending a fine year as president of the LA County Christian Endeavor.  We haven’t heard from the Paris Lheritier’s for a year.



In discovering Edwin Corle we feel that we have made the acquaintance (though his books, for we don’t know him personally) of an author who will one day be famous.

Corle is just 31 years old a mixed product of the east and the west.  From the east came his formal education but it is the west, which has given him his materials for writing.

Mojave, a collection of his short stories, was the first book by Corle to fall into our hands.  If you want a treat you should read the story Amethyst  from his collection.  Or you will it in the 1934 O’Brien Short Stories as well.  It sets an entirely new type for the short story.  In a few pages it spins a yarn and plumbs the lives and characters of three persons.

Then came Fig Tree John, a tale of an Apache family down by the Salton Sea, and after that People on the Earth, just published.  This is a story of the Navajos of Arizona.  These books are powerful; they both show the clash of two different races; the latter is a lost a saga of the great Navajo nation.  You should read them both.

We’d like to meet this fellow Corle sometime and tell him that he is a man after our own hearts.  He will doubtless go far in his field.


My folks are building a fine new 6-room house just two blocks from us best planned home we’ve ever seen.  Helen’s mother has been very ill for some time.  Gus Nelson writes a fine and revealing letter about the strike situation in Detroit.  It looks as though the Fournier’s wouldn’t visit us in California this summer as planned.  Mrs. Ted Hornberger, in Pasadena, is making a study of California pottery.  Chaplain Gould writes interestingly from the northern C.C.C. camps.  And the rest of our friends seem to be on the go Rev. Moore to England, Mrs. Gardner Miller to France, Win and Grace to Florida, Helen’s former teacher, Miss Iselin, to Hawaii, the Ray Jewell’s back to California, Miss Hull out to visit us, etc.

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