DAY BY DAY by Betty Case (November 28, 1939)

12 Mar

Day by Day

HISTORIANS and future generations won’t know whether to call this the Year of the Two Thanksgivings or the Year of the Great Wind at Sauk City. In September August Derleth, like the Third Little Pig, built himself a house of stone. Then he did a Jekyl-and-Hyde, threw a long shaggy black coat over his smooth, pink, well-filled skin and huffed and puffed until he put the Big Bad Wolf to shame. Because the BBW couldn’t budge the stone house no matter HOW hard HE blew . . . but August blew the cornerstone of HIS stone house all the way from Sauk City to Madison, where it landed ker-plunk in the pages of the “other newspaper.” Last month he huffed and he puffed and he puffed and he huffed until he blew HIMSELF into the pages of Time magazine as a “Horn Tooter” of experience and ability. This month he has done it differently. This month Mr. Derleth saved what breath he had left and hoarded it and coddled it and warmed it with his own benign presence until it expanded and increased and dilated and spread and produced the most magnificently inflated ego on record.No helium gas for Mr. Derleth! I should say not! His own special brand is so far superior that there’re rumors of the government taking it over as a subsidiary.
(We will pause one moment now for Ego Identification, which is necessary to the rest of the story:

Mr. Derleth is a young man who lives in Sauk City and writes pieces. He is now engaged in writing several novels which he says are the history of his part of the state, and which he calls “Sac Prairie Saga”. Sinclair Lewis once said Wisconsin people should watch him, but he forgot to say Hold on to your hats and skirts, meantime, Ladies and Gentlemen! We will now return you to Station WIND)
THIS month, as I said, Mr. Derleth did it differently. This month he had 20,000 stamps, the same size as a postage stamp, printed, each with his own picture on it. Above the picture it says: SAC PRAIRIE SAGA . . . and below it it says,with simple eloquence: AUGUST DERLETH These stamps Mr. Derleth is affixing to letters which he sends out and he has given sheets of them to Sauk City merchants with the request that they affix them to whatever mail they happen to be sending out during the holidays. Just like the Tuberculosis seals, you know.

AND all this, mind you, right after I’d sworn a swear to continue ignoring all blasts from that direction. But you can’t ignore a guy like that any more than you could ignore Toto the World’s Funniest Clown if he insisted upon performing in your front yard. And who WANTS to ignore him? August may write novels which take two reviews in the same newspaper to do them justice, but ya gotta excuse a fella even THAT when he furnishes this dreary old world such fresh and regular belly-laughs as he does. Anyway, other men have blasted their way to fame when other means failed, so why not August?


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