Gertrude Stein on Football

Books, Literature, Writers

In a 1934 radio interview, Gertrude Stein talks American football:

INTERVIEWER: You saw the Yale-Dartmouth game a week ago Saturday didn’t you? Did you understand that in the American way or the football way or how?

STEIN: IN the American way. The thing that interested me was that the Modern American in his movements and his actions in a football game so resembled the red Indian dance and it proves that the physical country that made the one made the other and that the red Indian is still with us. They just put their heads down solemnly together and then double over, while on the sidelines the substitutes move in a jiggly way just like Indians. Then they all get down on all fours just like Indians.

INTERVIEWER: But those jiggles are just warming-up exercises.

STEIN: It doesn’t make any difference what they are doing it for, they are just doing it, like the way the Indian jiggles in the Indian dance and then there is that little brown ball they all bend down and worship.

INTERVIEWER: But the ideas in that is to get the ball across the goal line.

STEIN: But don’t you suppose I know that, and don’t you suppose the Indians had just as much reason and enjoyed their dancing just as much?

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“Decoration Day” — Sarah Orne Jewett

Books, Literature, Writers

“Decoration Day” by Sarah Orne Jewett

I.

A week before the thirtieth of May, three friends—John Stover and Henry Merrill and Asa Brown—happened to meet on Saturday evening at Barton’s store at the Plains. They were ready to enjoy this idle hour after a busy week. After long easterly rains, the sun had at last come out bright and clear, and all the Barlow farmers had been planting. There was even a good deal of ploughing left to be done, the season was so backward.

The three middle-aged men were old friends. They had been school-fellows, and when they were hardly out of their boyhood the war came on, and they enlisted in the same company, on the same day, and happened to march away elbow to elbow. Then came the great experience of a great war, and the years that followed their return from the South had come to each almost alike. These men might have been members of the same rustic household, they knew each other’s history so well.

They were sitting on a low wooden bench at the left of the store door as you went in. People were coming and going on their Saturday night errands,—the post-office was in Barton’s store,—but the friends talked on eagerly, without being interrupted, except by an occasional nod of recognition. They appeared to take no notice at all of the neighbors whom they saw oftenest. It was a most beautiful evening; the two great elms were almost half in leaf over the blacksmith’s shop which stood across the wide road. Farther along were two small old-fashioned houses and the old white church, with its pretty belfry of four arched sides and a tiny dome at the top. The large cockerel on the vane was pointing a little south of west, and there was still light enough to make it shine bravely against the deep blue eastern sky. On the western side of the road, near the store, were the parsonage and the storekeeper’s modern house, which had a French roof and some attempt at decoration, which the long-established Barlow people called gingerbread-work, and regarded with mingled pride and disdain. These buildings made the tiny village called Barlow Plains. They stood in the middle of a long narrow strip of level ground. They were islanded by green fields and pastures. There were hills beyond; the mountains themselves seemed very near. Scattered about on the hill slopes were farmhouses, which stood so far apart, with their clusters of out-buildings, that each looked lonely, and the pine woods above seemed to besiege them all. It was lighter on the uplands than it was in the valley, where the three men sat on their bench, with their backs to the store and the western sky.

“Well, here we be ‘most into June, an’ I ‘ain’t got a bush-bean above ground,” lamented Henry Merrill.

“Your land’s always late, ain’t it? But you always catch up with the rest on us,” Asa Brown consoled him. “I’ve often observed that your land, though early planted, was late to sprout. I view it there’s a good week’s difference betwixt me an’ Stover an’ your folks, but come first o’ July we all even up.”

“‘Tis just so,” said John Stover, taking his pipe out of his mouth, as if he had a good deal more to say, and then replacing it, as if he had changed his mind.

“Made it extry hard having that long wet spell. Can’t none on us take no day off this season,” said Asa Brown; but nobody thought it worth his while to respond to such evident truth.

“Next Saturday’ll be the thirtieth o’ May—that’s Decoration Day, ain’t it?—come round again. Lord! how the years slip by after you git to be forty-five an’ along there!” said Asa again. “I s’pose some o’ our folks’ll go over to Alton to see the procession, same’s usual. I’ve got to git one o’ them small flags to stick on our Joel’s grave, an’ Mis’ Dexter always counts on havin’ some for Harrison’s lot. I calculate to get ‘em somehow. I must make time to ride over, but I don’t know where the time’s comin’ from out o’ next week. I wish the women folks would tend to them things. There’s the spot where Eb Munson an’ John Tighe lays in the poor-farm lot, an’ I did mean certain to buy flags for ‘em last year an’ year before, but I went an’ forgot it. I’d like to have folks that rode by notice ‘em for once, if they was town paupers. Eb Munson was as darin’ a man as ever stepped out to tuck o’ drum.”

Gertrude Stein on Football

Books, Literature, Writers

In a 1934 radio interview, Gertrude Stein talks American football:

INTERVIEWER: You saw the Yale-Dartmouth game a week ago Saturday didn’t you? Did you understand that in the American way or the football way or how?

STEIN: IN the American way. The thing that interested me was that the Modern American in his movements and his actions in a football game so resembled the red Indian dance and it proves that the physical country that made the one made the other and that the red Indian is still with us. They just put their heads down solemnly together and then double over, while on the sidelines the substitutes move in a jiggly way just like Indians. Then they all get down on all fours just like Indians.

INTERVIEWER: But those jiggles are just warming-up exercises.

STEIN: It doesn’t make any difference what they are doing it for, they are just doing it, like the way the Indian jiggles in the Indian dance and then there is that little brown ball they all bend down and worship.

INTERVIEWER: But the ideas in that is to get the ball across the goal line.

STEIN: But don’t you suppose I know that, and don’t you suppose the Indians had just as much reason and enjoyed their dancing just as much?

“Sweat” — Zora Neale Hurston

Books, Literature, Writers

“Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston

It was eleven o’clock of a Spring night in Florida. It was Sunday. Any other night, Delia Jones would have been in bed for two hours by this time. But she was a wash-woman, and Monday morning meant a great deal to her. So she collected the soiled clothes on Saturday when she returned the clean things. Sunday night after church, she sorted them and put the white things to soak. It saved her almost a half day’s start. A great hamper in the bedroom held the clothes that she brought home. It was so much neater than a number of bundles lying around.

She squatted in the kitchen floor beside the great pile of clothes, sorting them into small heaps according to color, and humming a song in a mournful key, but wondering through it all where Sykes, her husband, had gone with her horse and buckboard.

Just then something long, round, limp and black fell upon her shoulders and slithered to the floor beside her. A great terror took hold of her. It softened her knees and dried her mouth so that it was a full minute before she could cry out or move. Then she saw that it was the big bull whip her husband liked to carry when he drove.

She lifted her eyes to the door and saw him standing there bent over with laughter at her fright. She screamed at him.

“Sykes, what you throw dat whip on me like dat? You know it would skeer me–looks just like a snake, an’ you knows how skeered Ah is of snakes.”

“Course Ah knowed it! That’s how come Ah done it.” He slapped his leg with his hand and almost rolled on the ground in his mirth. “If you such a big fool dat you got to have a fit over a earth worm or a string, Ah don’t keer how bad Ah skeer you.”

“You aint got no business doing it. Gawd knows it’s a sin. Some day Ah’m goin’ tuh drop dead from some of yo’ foolishness. ‘Nother thing, where you been wid mah rig? Ah feeds dat pony. He aint fuh you to be drivin’ wid no bull whip.”

“You sho is one aggravatin’ nigger woman!” he declared and stepped into the room. She resumed her work and did not answer him at once. “Ah done tole you time and again to keep them white folks’ clothes outa dis house.”

He picked up the whip and glared down at her. Delia went on with her work. She went out into the yard and returned with a galvanized tub and set it on the washbench. She saw that Sykes had kicked all of the clothes together again, and now stood in her way truculently, his whole manner hoping, praying, for an argument. But she walked calmly around him and commenced to re-sort the things.

“Next time, Ah’m gointer kick ‘em outdoors,” he threatened as he struck a match along the leg of his corduroy breeches.

Ian McEwan’s Fish Stew

Books, Literature, Recipes, Writers

Here’s another entry in our Thanksgiving series of literary recipes–a recipe for fish stew, adapted from Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday. The recipe is Henry Perowne’s, the novel’s protagonist who makes it for dinner on the titular day. The adaptation below comes from journalist Damian Barr, who wrote an excellent article about recipes in literature for The Times.

Into a stockpot of boiling water (a litre or more), put the bones of three skates (or other boned fish), with heads intact. If you have no obliging local fishmonger, use a pound or more of white fish.

Add a dozen or so mussels to the stock. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, strip and chop three onions and eight fat cloves of garlic. Soften over a low heat in a casserole with a lot of olive oil. When they have melted sufficiently, add: a couple of crushed red chillies, a pinch of saffron, some bay leaves, orange-peel gratings, oregano, five anchovy fillets, two cans of peeled tomatoes

When these have blended together in the heat, add a quarter bottle of white wine. Then strain off the stock and add to the casserole. Simmer the mix for 20 minutes.

Rinse and/or scrub the clams and remaining mussels and place in a bowl.

Cut the monkfish tails into chunks and place in a separate bowl.

Wash the tiger prawns and add to the monkfish bowl. Keep both bowls refrigerated until ready to cook. Just before dinner, reheat the casserole.

Simmer the clams, monkfish, mussels and prawns in the casserole for ten minutes.

Eat the stew with brown bread, or garlic bread, salad and a hearty red wine.

Ian McEwan’s Fish Stew

Books, Literature, Recipes, Writers

Here’s another entry in our Thanksgiving series of literary recipes–a recipe for fish stew, adapted from Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday. The recipe is Henry Perowne’s, the novel’s protagonist who makes it for dinner on the titular day. The adaptation below comes from journalist Damian Barr, who wrote an excellent article about recipes in literature for The Times.

Into a stockpot of boiling water (a litre or more), put the bones of three skates (or other boned fish), with heads intact. If you have no obliging local fishmonger, use a pound or more of white fish.

Add a dozen or so mussels to the stock. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, strip and chop three onions and eight fat cloves of garlic. Soften over a low heat in a casserole with a lot of olive oil. When they have melted sufficiently, add: a couple of crushed red chillies, a pinch of saffron, some bay leaves, orange-peel gratings, oregano, five anchovy fillets, two cans of peeled tomatoes

When these have blended together in the heat, add a quarter bottle of white wine. Then strain off the stock and add to the casserole. Simmer the mix for 20 minutes.

Rinse and/or scrub the clams and remaining mussels and place in a bowl.

Cut the monkfish tails into chunks and place in a separate bowl.

Wash the tiger prawns and add to the monkfish bowl. Keep both bowls refrigerated until ready to cook. Just before dinner, reheat the casserole.

Simmer the clams, monkfish, mussels and prawns in the casserole for ten minutes.

Eat the stew with brown bread, or garlic bread, salad and a hearty red wine.