An Informal Biography of an Activist


By William M. Greene



TO MY SISTER ANNE for dedicating the active years of her life to helping retarded children.





Even though Louise Bryant lived a unique, almost stranger-than-fiction life, little has been known about her and her participation in historically-significant events.


Indeed, the only information available about her has come from books about men and women with whom she was involved, notably the biographies of John Reed and Eugene O'Neill, with both of whom she was involved in a triangle which became the basis for O'Neill's award-winning play.





Her name may also be familiar to those in the rapidly shrinking ranks of men and women old enough to recall her activities during the post-World War One hysteria that gripped the nation, and her participation in the riots and hunger strikes in jail that marked the women's struggle for political equality. Her own two books detailing her experiences in Russia during the 1917 Revolution have long been forgotten.


But all this covers a short span of her life – five years. It says very little about her family, her childhood and the elements that set the pattern for her goal in life.


This book then is the story of Louise Bryant from the day she was born in San Francisco to her death in Paris - the thirty years of her life before she met John Reed in Portland, Oregon; her involvement with him and Eugene O'Neill; her role in the Russian revolution and other historically-significant events after Reed's death, the stormy years as the wife of Philadelphia's millionaire diplomat, William Christian Bullitt.


Despite destruction of all important legal documents in the earthquake and fires of San Francisco, where Louise was born, and other records in a school fire in Nevada, where her scholastic years began, it was, nevertheless, possible to locate and document essential information about her parents, grandparents and members of her immediate family, with the help of old federal census records (before these became unavailable to the general public), voter registration lists, real estate transactions, birth, death, baptismal and marriage records, and old San Francisco City directories in the California State Library in Sacramento.


Dramatization of her life on the West Coast before she met Reed is based on interviews (often on tape) and correspondence with men and women in their late seventies, eighties and even nineties, with recollections that go back to her grade school and college years. Some were classmates, sorority sisters and neighbors during the eighteen-nineties and the first decade and a half of this century.


There were even some with memories of their days as students in Paris, who recall seeing her in Paris bistros in the nineteen-thirties a few years before she died - by that time a sad caricature of the once beautiful wife of Bullitt.







Age three and a half with large doll, a gift from her father.

In Cossack costume.

At Reed's funeral in Moscow.

Shortly before her death, showing devastating effects of drinking and drugs.





Paul A. Trullinger

John S. Reed

William C. Bullitt





Eugene O'Neill

Alexander Kerensky.

Louise Bryant and Agnes Boulton revealing remarkable resemblance.








Birth of a Rebel

‘Boomtown’ Nevada

A Taste of Violence


Campus Days

It's a Man's World

Mrs. Trullinger

John Silas Reed

The Way to a Man's Heart




43 Washington Square

Bohemia, U.S.A.

Marriage! Who Needs It?

War Clouds

The Provincetown Players

‘Strange Interlude'

Wheel of Pain

The Course of True Love




Utopia Must Wait

Ingredients for a Revolution

Prelude to Upheaval

LENIN: 'Radishes Are Red Only Outside'

Reporter at Large

The Lighter Side





Gene Doesn't Live. Here Anymore

Home of the Brave

Whatever Happened to Bohemia?

WOMEN'S LIB: The Tough Years

The Lecture Trail

Communism USA

Death of an American Radical




Top Secret

Life with Bullitt


‘To Me Peace Means Death'








Here is Anna Louise Mohan, age three and one half with Gretchen, a gift from her father, Hugh, a San Francisco journalist, politician and fighter for Irish independence. In 1892, two years after his death, widow Mohan married Sheridan Bryant and they all moved to a “hell-bent-for-leather” railroad town in Nevada, where Anna Louise, now simply Louise Bryant, got her first taste of violence during the Eugene Debs railroad tie-up. Here also was born her brother, who was destined to become an associate of Herbert Hoover, a top American business executive and important member of President Eisenhower’s administration, while she headed toward revolution and violence.




Before the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, Howard Street began at the Embarcadero on San Francisco Bay and ran southeasterly to Thirteenth Street. There it turned sharply south and dead-ended at Army Street bordering the hills. In the rebuilding that followed the disaster, the city straightened a good many of its streets, and Howard from Thirteenth to Army became a continuation of Van Ness and was named South Van Ness Avenue.


Among the San Francisco homes that survived the 1906 catastrophe, were those on what was once Howard Street near the hills, and they're still there today, solid and substantial, their great pre-earthquake magnificence gone long ago.


In one of these - a two-story brick house with six cement steps that began abruptly at the sidewalk and ended at a large varnished door bearing the number 2943 - Barbara Louisa Mohan was giving birth to her third child in an upstairs bedroom. She was twenty-eight, blue-eyed and blonde, with Teutonic features. Barbara Louisa was having a harder time bringing this child, into the world than her other two - Lou Parnell, age three and Barbara, a year younger. Two women were there to help; her younger sister, Marynell, and Mrs. Louise Emmerich, a midwife, whose home was a few blocks to the north on Howard.


In the kitchen, on the floor below, was the father - a San Francisco journalist who doubled as a Democratic politician - the two children, and Uncle Philip Flick, who was Mrs. Mohan's older brother - a San Francisco tinsmith and pipe fitter. At thirty Uncle Philip was still unmarried, but carrying on a courtship by mail with Mary Crestwell in Virginia City, Nevada, where the Flicks lived before moving to San Francisco.


All had hoped that the new baby would be a boy so that Barbara would have a brother slightly older and another younger. The children themselves, of course, were too young to care one way or the other. They were hungry and wanted their supper. When Mrs. Emmerich appeared at the head of the stairs and announced that they had a baby sister, they looked pleased. It meant supper would soon appear on the large, square, oilcloth-covered kitchen table. As for the father! If Hugh Jonathan Mohan was disappointed, he certainly did not show it. He walked to the cupboard for a bottle and two glasses, and after he and Uncle Philip toasted the new baby's arrival, both went upstairs to see Mrs. Mohan.


The children saw their little sister the next day, a squirming, squalling bundle swaddled in a long, flannel gown from the sleeve end of which stuck out two tiny, clenched fists. Her face, red from exertion, seemed all wide-open mouth, wrinkled skin and tightly shut eyes. Not until Marynell shifted her so that she could latch onto one of Barbara Louisa's breasts did her sobs and wailing stop. The children watched their sister, their faces mirroring both curiosity and disgust.


It was Saturday, December 15, 1885. A year later she was baptized and formally became an Episcopalian. By that time it was clear she would resemble her tall, handsome Irish father more than her Teutonic-featured mother, as did the other two children. They named her Anna Louise.


Anna Louise was nearing her fifth birthday in 1890, when two of her father's friends brought him home one afternoon and the children saw their mother help them carry their father into his bedroom. They ever saw him alive again. He died in five days, a victim of pneumonia. She recalled little of her father while he was alive, only that he sometimes came home and hardly talked to anyone, and at other times he was tender and brought home gifts. One of the most exciting of these occasions was when he brought home beautiful dolls, one for her and another for Barbara, and everyone marveled because they said her doll looked just like her. There was a rocking horse for Lou Parnell too. On these occasions there was always a faint, pleasant smell on his breath when he kissed her and the other children as he handed them their gifts.


She also recalled times when their home was full of strangers. They would sit and drink, mostly beer, with their father, while she, Barbara and Lou Parnell played in the other room. Even when they got tired at night and went to sleep, she would sometimes awaken and hear their voices, with her father's the loudest of all. She would hear words not even Lou Parnell, who was three years older, could understand. But the words seemed very important to her father and his friends. Once or twice she asked her mother to tell her what they were talking about. Her mother tried to explain, but she was not very successful, usually telling her to wait until she and Barbara and Lou Parnell were a little older. Her mother proved to be right. It was not long before Anna Louise began hearing the same words again and they began to take meaning, forming a pattern and shaping her life.



When she was seventeen her mother told her the truth about her father - Hugh Mohan was a heavy drinker, and it was a severe cold after a long drinking spree in "Blind" Chris Buckley's saloon, which turned into pneumonia, and killed him when he was only forty years old.


But a good many things had happened before her mother got around to talking about Hugh Mohan. By that time, they were living in Nevada and her mother had remarried and become Mrs. Sheridan Bryant. And when Anna Louise was ready to enroll in a Nevada school everyone knew her only as Louise Bryant.

By that time, however, Louise had learned so much about her father and her four grandparents, and she had surrounded their lives with such a romantic aura, it wouldn't have mattered to her if her father had died on the gallows for involvement in heinous mass murder. (Louise herself did not begin drinking until 1926 when she was married to Bullitt. Until that time she rarely smelled liquor on a man's breath without associating it with her father's tenderness.)


First in her dream world peopled by wonderful men and women was - of course - her father; but as her mother, bit by bit, unfolded the story of her grandparents, they too quickly joined the ranks" of all who deserved beatification for having lived and died as heroes.


It was not difficult for her to romanticize her four grandparents - alt were European refugees from hunger, tyranny and political turmoil during the middle of the nineteenth century.


On her mother's side were Christian Louis Flick and his wife Barbara. They were newlyweds in Germany (he was born in Hesse, she in Baden) when they joined other political activists fleeing Europe turmoil created by an odd combination of a middle class and oppressed workers, inspired by Marx-Engels theories, rebelling against monarchial arrogance and corruption. In America, they lived for a while in St. Charles in Louisiana, where her grandfather worked as a barber. With news that gold had been discovered in California, they joined the stampede from all over the world to what is now the Sacramento area, settling at Marysville. Here Grandfather Flick opened the mining camp's first barbershop. Two years later he built the town's first hotel, naming it Hotel St. Charles, after his first home in America. Among the first tenants at the new Hotel St. Charles was a bachelor merchant named Rowland H. Macy, who went broke in Marysville, but salvaged enough gold to return east and get into the department store business.


The Flicks had three children: Uncle Philip, born in 1853; Barbara Louisa, Louise's mother, in 1857; and Marynell in 1859. When gold began to give out around Marysville, the Flicks joined hundreds of others heading for Virginia City in Nevada. Here Flick opened a hair-dressing emporium with another German immigrant, Rudolph Grebner. They prospered, their patrons being mostly prostitutes, of whom there were a great many in Virginia City. In 1875 a disastrous fire destroyed the entire business section of Virginia City, and the Flicks, along with everyone else in business, were ruined. They managed to reach San Francisco, where Flick had a brother in the bakery business.


Here in 1880, Barbara Louisa, twenty-three, tightly-corseted and irresistibly pretty in her "bolero jacket and small hat perched precariously on top her blonde hair, heard Hugh Jonathan Mohan address a Democratic Party picnic. Even before he came to their table to say hello, while circulating among the crowd, Barbara Louisa was hopelessly in love with him. Mohan was seven years older than she was. They were married after a brief courtship.


The Mohans, Louise's other grandparents, were able to provide her active imagination with fuel that was even more inflammatory. For while the Flicks, upon arrival in America, quickly joined the mainstream of life in their new homeland, and pushed their rebellious past to a remote place in their memories, the Mohans never forgot the tyranny and ruthlessness of their former British overlords.


Hugh himself was born in Pennsylvania, two years after his parents settled there. They were among the countless thousands who fled Ireland and death by starvation the Great Potato Famine of 1848 brought in its wake. The Mohans, for many years fierce Protestant Irish fighters for a free Ireland, almost immediately became involved in the relentless struggle Irish-Americans were waging to rid their former homeland of the British.


Hugh was a few months past his sixteenth birthday when he joined the large gangs of young Irishmen hired to lay the tracks for the Union Pacific, building America's first trans-continental railroad. Scores of the young Irish laborers perished under the blistering sun in the summer and below zero weather in the winter while working - often with rifles over their shoulders to fight off resentful Indians. Working their way slowly westward from Omaha, Nebraska, they reached Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869. There, the Union Pacific tracks joined those of the old Central Pacific, built by thousands of Chinese coolies working their way eastward from Sacramento over the Sierra Nevada.


When the great celebration in Utah ended, the bands stopped playing and the governors and other politicians ended their speeches proclaiming the start of a new era for railroading along with growth of America that would never end (For the railroads the end came in 1969, exactly one hundred years later, when a generous Congress, which had provided the means for the building of the railroads, had to start bailing them out to avoid bankruptcy.) flags were rolled up and many of the Irish laborers, including Hugh Mohan, headed for San Francisco. Most of them remained laborers, but a good many became businessmen, politicians and journalists. The Chinese coolies, who had survived the hardships involved in laying railroad tracks over the almost impassable mountains, also headed for San Francisco. Here they were herded into a ten block square, vermin-ridden, disease infested area, which ultimately became one of San Francisco's major tourist attractions - it's famous Chinatown.


Hugh began by working in a fish-cleaning plant in San Francisco, which had been booming since the 1849 California Gold Rush began. Then he turned to print shops and soon learned enough about setting type and proper construction of sentences while setting them in type, to be able to list himself in the San Francisco City Directory as a free-lance journalist. He, also, soon became an articulate member of the tightly controlled Democratic Party machine in San Francisco, and a favorite of "Blind Boss" Chris Buckley, who for a time ran City Hall from his saloon at 232 Bush Street. (Buckley’s political enemies insisted he was not blind at all. He was a poor “shanty” Irishman who had never learned to read or write and feigned blindness to explain why he could not read or sign documents.)


With the election of Grover Cleveland as Democratic President in 1884, Hugh Mohan hit affluence. The political "spoils system" was in full bloom and every Democrat, down to those who tacked up election placards on telephone poles, was assured a job. "Blind Boss" Buckley rewarded Hugh Mohan with a government post that bore an elaborate title, with which went a comfortable salary.


Mohan now began to appear in the San Francisco City Directory as a "Statistician of the San Francisco Division of the United States Department of Labor," a most appropriate appointment for a dedicated Democrat, the U.S. Department of Labor in those days being responsible for the naturalization of aliens before they became eligible to vote.


With the appointment and a secure income, Hugh Mohan moved his family from the rickety old house on Seventh Street where they had been living, to the expensive brick home at 2943 Howard Street, where Louise was born.



Louise's father was, by that time, not only a fiery orator able to arouse San Francisco Irish, German and other poorly-paid workers to the Democratic cause at election time, he had also become a leader among those extreme radical Irish-Americans in San Francisco favoring the sending of guerilla saboteurs into Canada in their increasingly-violent crusade against the British.


In the eighteen-eighties, Mohan and his fellow Irish activists were still smarting from the disastrous end of the attempt by Irish-American extremists to invade Canada. In 1866, they actually managed to get an "army" of seven thousand into Canada and claim a victory by routing the Canadians. The United States government, however, with Democrat Andrew Johnson in the White House, smashed the drive into Canada by closing the border, seizing the weapons of the invaders, and arresting the leaders. A second attempt four years later was smashed even more harshly, this time by Republican President Ulysses S. Grant.


Nothing apparently came of the guerilla-saboteur proposal. But in the years to come, Louise would hear echoes of the muffled voices of the father she worshipped and his friends as they drank beer and argued; she would hear them as John Reed talked with radical Irish friends in Greenwich Village; she would hear them as she was writing a moving tribute for the old Masses published by Max Eastman, lauding the life of Sir Roger Casement, the Irish patriot executed by the British as a traitor; and she would hear them again as a journalist when Irish-American senators with long memories, would scuttle Woodrow Wilson's hopes for United States membership in the League of Nations. He needed their support, but he also needed the support of England's Lloyd George, whose ruthless crushing of Irish revolts none of them forgot. He could not have both.






Louise spent her childhood - the most critically formative years in the development of a child's personality - and her adolescent years in Nevada: Six years around Reno, and before that, ten in a wild, boisterous, booming railroad town, some thirty miles east of Reno called Wadsworth.


Here in Nevada, she got her elementary and high school education, lived through the violence which greeted Eugene Debs' attempt to organize a united and effective labor organization, helped collect food and clothing for the bedraggled families of striking miners driven from Colorado by militia and deputized strike-breakers. Here she learned that a sure-fire way to attract attention to herself was by doing and saying things which would shock people.

By the time she was thirteen, she was boasting about an imaginary sexual rendezvous with a twenty-year old man in a boxcar on a side-track in the railroad yards, but when she actually did have her first affair at fourteen and a half, it fell far short of her romantic expectations.


From that affair, however, and those that followed on the University of Nevada and Oregon campuses she did learn "the ways of the world," and this played an important part in shaping her life. While she shocked convention, men found her fascinating and alluring. She found that she could gain the attention of the most important, handsome men almost effortlessly, and she quickly learned to exploit her powers. Sex, she became convinced, could become a potent force in helping her achieve her goals, including that of becoming a journalist-crusader the way her rebellious Irish father had been.



When Hugh Mohan died in 1890, he left a widow and three children, as well as a lot of unpaid bills. (Hugh’s affluent years ended when Grover Cleveland moved out of the white House and Benjamin Harrison moved in, and federal government jobs immediately went to deserving Republicans.) With nowhere else to turn, except her younger sister, Marynell, who had by then become Mrs. Ernest Girvin, the wife of a hard-pressed San Francisco court reporter, Mrs. Mohan decided to accept the invitation of brother Philip to join him in Nevada until she got over the shock of losing Hugh and could begin to make a new life for herself and the children.


In Nevada, Philip Flick, the pipe fitter, was now a farmer on one hundred and sixty irrigated acres nine miles northeast of Reno. He had left San Francisco shortly after Louise was born and moved back to Virginia City, Nevada, where he had worked in mines before the 1875 fire ruined the Flicks. What lured him back was Mary Crestwell, with whom he had been corresponding. They were promptly married and when their first child was stillborn, Philip decided to try his hand at farming. This was a time when Nevada's economic picture was beginning to change and the state was making it easy for unemployed miners to become farmers.


In January of 1891, Mrs. Mohan and her two young daughters, Louise, five, and Barbara, some eighteen months older, arrived in Reno. She had left Lou Parnell with her sister Marynell and her husband in San Francisco. It was to have been a temporary arrangement, but it didn't turn out that way, and it was many years before Louise's mother saw Lou Parnell again. Louise herself never did. If she had she would have been bitterly disappointed. There was nothing in his career to associate him even remotely with his namesake, the Irish freedom fighter, Charles Stewart Parnell. Indeed, he represented everything for which his father and Louise had contempt, an average Joe Blow or Smith, who would never rock any boat. And yet, it was he and Sheridan Bryant who were the only ones around in 1924 to mourn the death of Louise's mother.


Eighteen months after Mrs. Mohan and the girls arrived in Reno Barbara Louisa Mohan became the wife of Sheridan D. Bryant, to whom Uncle Philip introduced her one spring afternoon in downtown Reno while they were doing the weekly shopping for groceries.


Sheridan was short and stocky, with a round face and a pleasant smile. He boasted a lone gold tooth in the center of the upper row, a sign in those days that the tooth's owner was no plain gink; he was somebody with ambition. Sheridan Bryant's ambition was to be a railroad conductor on the Southern Pacific, whose biggest division point between Salt Lake City in Utah, and Sacramento, was at Wadsworth. He frequently came to Reno on a free railroad pass to visit his brother Sherman, a Washoe county deputy sheriff. When he was introduced to Louise's mother, his visits became more frequent. (Sheridan and Sherman, named by their father, a Civil War soldier, after the two great generals in that war, came west to find new homes as did so many others when the war was over.)


As for the mother, she faced his growing interest in her with mixed feelings. He was totally different from the handsome, passionate, intellectually and physically stimulating Hugh Mohan, who had encouraged her to continue her cultural interests - music, writing, good books - interests which had started in rip-roaring Virginia City when she was a teenager. There she had tried to keep aloof of her surroundings and was shocked to learn the sort of customers her father's hairdressing emporium catered to. She drew closer to her German mother, and showed Louise a clipping about her mother from the old Virginia City Territorial Enterprise which she had always treasured: "Virginia City's first ball," said the paper where Mark Twain had worked, "Was a gala affair held at the San Francisco Restaurant on Christmas Eve. Among our First Ladies, resplendently gowned, were the following: Mrs. Patterson, Mrs. Rothbucker, Miss Morgan, Mrs. Flick. . ."


Now she was thirty-five, a widow with three children, she knew nothing at all about earning a livelihood, and life on the ranch was beginning to become difficult. Aunt Mary was not very subtle about hints that her sister-in-law and two young nieces were becoming a burden. Sheridan Bryant, her courter, seemed kind, pleasant and generous, with a steady job in a town where the two girls could attend school. . .


On June 11, in 1892, Sheridan Daniel Bryant and Louise Barbara Mohan appeared at the Washoe County Courthouse, the large grey building in the heart of downtown Reno. They signed an application for a marriage license, and were married within an hour by Justice of the Peace, J. J. Linn. The girls were present, Barbara happy, Louise disapproving.


"He looks like Santa Claus without the red suit and white whiskers." she had told Barbara the first time he turned up at the Flick ranch, and added: "I don't like his yellow tooth. He's not like Papa and Uncle Philip."

They left for Wadsworth a few hours later.


It was not a long ride. Aboard the train Sheridan introduced his new family to the train crew, and could hardly wait to begin showing them off to his friends and neighbors in Wadsworth. The new Mrs. Bryant looked appraisingly about her when they all got off the train, at the tiny park in front of the depot, at the buildings with their high wooden fronts, and at the people to whom she was introduced, most of them in work clothes.


Louise and Barbara were wide-eyed and excited. There was so much new and strange to see and marvel at.


Wadsworth is now one of Nevada's many ghost towns, a dusty, forlorn little place on Interstate 80. There is very little left to recall the riotous place it was when the Bryants came to live there in 1892. It was then Nevada's biggest railroad division point - a booming, brawling, thriving saloon and brothel-crowded town - a rough place in which to raise children.


The town began to sink into dusty obscurity after the Bryants had lived there ten years. That was when the railroad decided to move its division point to Sparks, just east of Reno. This involved moving all the buildings and everything else out of Wadsworth, because it had been built on part of the Piute Indian Reservation, and the railroad, called the Central Pacific when it was being built, and now a part of the giant Southern Pacific network, having no title to the land, could find no customers for houses and other company-owned buildings without the land on which they were built. (What had happened was that the four men, now revered in California for their beneficence – Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins and Charlie Crocker – had overreached themselves. They had managed to bamboozle the federal government, blackmail communities and bribe lawmakers in order to get the old Central Pacific Railroad built. However, they had taken the Piute Indians for granted, and the land undisputedly belonged to them.)


What still remains in Wadsworth is the large two-story, brick school building, with its huge exterior, steel cylindrical fire escape down which Louise and all the other children screamed joyfully as they spiraled down the shiny slide during fire drills. The only other reminder of early Wadsworth is the small, white-painted clapboard interdenominational church. Here Louise and Barbara attended Sunday school, and it was here also, in 1897, three years after he was born, that Louise's brother Floyd, the future Rhodes Scholar, friend and associate of Herbert Hoover, vice-president of Standard Oil Company of California and assistant to Secretary of Defense Wilson during the Eisenhower years, was baptized into the Episcopalian faith.


Early railroad division points in the Western United States all looked alike. They were established along the railroad's main line, the distance between them determined by the terrain over which locomotives and crews were able to haul freight and passenger trains before the crews and locomotives had to be changed, somewhat the way horses and riders had to be changed during the old Pony Express days.


Occasionally it was possible to build a division point at a spot on the main line where a town or village was already established, as in the case of Wadsworth, which was an Indian trading post before the railroad came through.


There never was a railroad town where the main street wasn't called Railroad Street, and never one where all the bachelors didn't live in boarding houses, generally run by widows whose husbands had been killed in train wrecks or saloon brawls. For those with families there was always a long string of one-story homes exactly alike - always painted red and always with front doors facing the street and back porches a short distance from the railroad yard. The homes were railroad-owned and when a bachelor got married he moved out of his boarding house and usually into one of these dwellings.


The Bryants began life in one of these houses near the west end of Railroad Street, some distance from the main part of town. Two things fascinated Louise and Barbara from almost the moment they moved in -- the roundhouse where the locomotives were kept while being checked and serviced after each regular run, and a big two-story frame house in a large hollow across the street from their home, which had a wide porch running the full length in front. It was one of Wadsworth's twenty-four whorehouses, called "houses of ill fame" by genteel folks. The roundhouse they were able to watch anytime they wished, but the place across the street, only when Mrs. Bryant and Sheridan were not around.


The roundhouse was a large, brick, half-circular structure, with only the outside half-circle walled in. Two dozen sets of rails began inside the building and extended outside like the spokes of a wheel, ending at the end of a huge, round, concrete pit. In the exact center of the pit was a heavy steel column on top of which was a narrow bridge with a pair of tracks. The column with its bridge was so precisely balanced it could be easily turned and the tracks lined up with any pair of those which led into the roundhouse. Louise never got tired watching a hostler bring a huge locomotive onto the bridge tracks and slowly and carefully balance it in the exact center so that the locomotive and bridge rocked gently, the way a well-balanced teeter-totter does. Then the whole business was easily pushed around until the tracks were lined up with a vacant roundhouse stall. Then came two toots by the hostler inside the cab and the huge mass of steel lumbered slowly into the roundhouse.


The house across the street was another matter. Each night it was brightly lit, and men would go in, and sometimes they would be staggering when they came out. On warm evenings there would always be a half-dozen ladies in beautiful clothes on the wide porch. At first, only a few days after they moved in, when Louise asked her mother about the women, the men, and why the house was always lit up at night, Mrs. Bryant was cross and told her it was nothing she and Barbara were to talk about, and ordered them to keep away from the front windows. But then the mother recalled her own shock as a teenager when, not having been told, she learned the truth about the women whose hair was made to look pretty by her own father in his hairdressing emporium, and she decided there was no way to evade the problem of satisfying their curiosity forever. She began by telling them that when they grew older they would understand much better, but in the meantime it was enough for them to know that the women across the street were forced to do bad things with men they didn't even like, because their parents were poor and they had no husbands to take care of them, and that this was the only way they could get money to buy food and other things that they needed.


Louise immediately demanded to know what the bad things were, but Mrs. Bryant only told her again that they would understand more when they were older, adding that she and Barbara should choose their lives carefully, so that under no circumstances would they ever find themselves having to do what the women across the street had to do in order to live.


Louise thought of asking Sheridan, but thought better of that. She was always comparing him with the picture of her daring, handsome father, and he always came off most unfavorably. When school began she soon discovered that her school-mates were impressed when she talked about the bad things the ladies, who lived across the street from her home, had to do with men they didn't even like.

She was learning that there were many ways one could become popular.


Louise and Barbara began their formal education in Wadsworth in September and by the time the term ended in June of 1893, it was clear that if Louise achieved fame either at Wadsworth or on college campuses, it would not be scholastically. She did very well, however, on both the University of Nevada and Oregon campuses in American and world history, English literature and in art.


While she was a bright student who made good grades in subjects she was interested in, she became bored with school routine almost as soon as the novelty of being in class with a lot of boys and girls wore off, and she would wait impatiently for recess, when more important subjects than school work could be discussed. She enjoyed the excitement that came with the periodic fire drills, and at home she suddenly began to find excuses for not plunging eagerly into performing assigned chores the way Barbara did. Mrs. Bryant chided her gently, seeing in her youngest daughter the early signs of development of characteristics that had made Hugh Mohan the glamorous husband she had loved so passionately. She had an uneasy feeling about her pretty young daughter's future, but not the slightest premonition of the despair and heartbreak that would be hers and Sheridan's when her daughter's career became almost indistinguishable from one that Hugh Mohan might have followed was he alive.


During the first half of her second term, Louise began the practice of trying to banish boredom by losing herself in daydreams during class hours - drifting off into reveries where life was exciting and romantic, where difficulties mellowed and problems became easy to overcome, no matter what they were. It was the genesis of the schizophrenia that would ultimately destroy her.


Philip Crosby of Reno, ninety years old when interviewed in 1972, shut his eyes and easily recalled when he was in school with Louise. He described exactly what she wore - a bright blue dress, her black hair in two long braids tied neatly at the ends with a blue ribbon and reaching far down her back. "She would sit there," said Crosby, "staring straight ahead like she was asleep, and stay that way until Miss Cruikshank brought her sharply back to life."


"She was very smart," said Crosby, "and always finished what Miss Cruikshank had assigned us before anyone else. Then she would look around the room for something to do that would liven things up. I sat in front of her in the fourth grade, and one day I suddenly felt something around my neck was choking me. She had taken her long braids with the ends tied with the blue ribbon and using it like a lasso threw it over my neck and began pulling. So I grabbed the ends, got them from off around my neck, stuck the ends in the inkwell, turned around and rubbed ink all over her face. Miss Cruikshank sent us to the principal's office where he made us hold out our hands with the palms up and gave it to us with the end of a razor strap; first me, then her - five times. I counted them. She didn't cry, but when we got out of the office, she said "that sonafabitch".

"That was her popular swear word," said Crosby. "I think she learned it from the Polack who said she was his girl."

Around the first of December in 1893, Mrs. Bryant informed Sheridan that she was pregnant with his first child, and the following week, Sheridan came home with a handbill announcing a meeting of the Wadsworth lodge of the American Railway Union to be addressed by Eugene Debs - founder of the union, and that after lodge there would be a public mass meeting.




Every folding chair in the big hall was filled by railroad men, their wives and children when the two men appeared on the waist high platform that ran the full width of the rear wall. Their appearance set off a long ovation with everyone stomping their feet, applauding and yelling, "Hooray, Gene; Hooray, Gene." With Eugene Debs was C. W. Lindsay, the chairman of the Wadsworth lodge of the American Railway Union. Debs was a full six feet tall, with angular features, deep-set eyes and a slightly protruding chin. His clothes were worn and wrinkled as though he had slept in them for several nights. He looked tired.

Louise leaned over and whispered to Barbara: "He's got a shoelace around his neck."

"That's a necktie, silly," said Barbara.

At that time Debs was not yet the fiery speaker he became when he was nominated five times by the socialists as their candidate for President of the United States, collecting nearly a million votes on one occasion while he was a prisoner in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. But this night he didn't have to be fiery or eloquent. Everyone in the crowded hall listened closely to every word. Only the children were restless, turning their heads in every direction to see who was there. Barbara also became fidgety after a while, but Louise kept her eyes on Eugene Debs. She saw in him her father as he must have looked while addressing large crowds, and soon she began daydreaming, even imagining herself on the stage with everyone applauding. At times she turned from the platform, glancing at Sheridan, who was listening carefully, and then at her mother. Once she saw her mother with her eyes tightly shut and thought that she was asleep, but then she felt her mother's hand squeeze her own tightly.

When Debs got through talking something unusual happened -something Louise would recall for Debs years later when she and John Reed visited him in prison. All the chairs were folded and disappeared, as if by magic, and a long table appeared by the wall loaded with cookies, lemonade and coffee. Everyone collected in groups to talk about Debs' speech, and Debs himself, as he nearly always did at meetings of this sort, began to stop at one group and then another to chat, and once in a while to pat a child on the head.

When he came to the Bryants, he talked to Sheridan and Mrs. Bryant and then turned to Barbara and asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Barbara was so surprised she was tongue-tied for a moment. Then she pointed to Sheridan and said, "I'm going to work on a train like him."

Debs smiled and said: "I'm afraid dear, you are going to have to think of something else. The railroad company seems to think that women should stay at home and keep house."

Louise was bubbling inside. Her mind was racing. She knew that she would be next and was ready when the time came, the words came tumbling over each other: "I'm going to be a great writer and get all my friends to kill British soldiers, and I'll buy new clothes for the Indian children, and I'll give some money to the ladies in the house across from us so they don't have to do bad things with men just because they don't have any money, and. . . and. . . ."

The men in their group and some others nearby began to laugh when she mentioned the bad things the ladies had to do, but Eugene Debs didn't. He looked at Louise, and to everybody's surprise, bent down and lifted her from the floor, and kissed her on the forehead.

Louise felt her face get hot, but she also felt a pleasant glow. So many people were looking at her. She had never felt quite so important. As they were all walking home through the falling snow, while Barbara kept asking why he wore such rumpled old clothes that were too big for him, Louise wanted to know what he was talking about. (The report of Deb’s appearance at Wadsworth is from the files of the old Wadsworth Dispatch, where Mrs. Bryant worked in her spare time for a white.)

Louise's feelings of importance grew the next day at school. Philip Crosby wasn't at the meeting, but he heard all about it; nearly everybody at school knew that Mr. Debs had kissed her. This was a new Louise Bryant whom all now envied. She did not have to do or say anything startling to draw attention to herself.

At home, the moment they all returned from the meeting, Louise began pressing her mother for information about Mr. Debs, starting with why did her mother fall asleep while he was talking. Mrs. Bryant said she hadn't fallen asleep, only closed her eyes because Mr. Debs was talking about the same things her father had talked about the first time she saw him in San Francisco. He was using almost the same words, exploitation, tyranny. . . .it was then that Louise began to hear echoes of the strange sounding words she had heard while her father and his friends were talking heatedly when she and Barbara were small children. Her father, said Mrs. Bryant, wanted people to vote for Mr. Cleveland for president because Mr. Cleveland was a Democrat and would help workers get more money from their bosses. He also wanted, said her mother, Ireland, where her grandparents come from, to be free of the English. But she must never again talk about killing English soldiers, no matter what she heard about her father. Soldiers are not bad people. They only do what they are ordered to do. Even the Indians who had attacked her father and his fellow-workers while they were building the railroad, Mrs. Bryant told Louise, were not bad men. They were unhappy because the railroad was being built on land that was once theirs and nobody even bothered to ask them if it would be all right to build the railroad on the land that was theirs. White men were also killing the buffalo and taking only the skins leaving the meat to rot, taking away the Indian's food supply.

It was all interesting and confusing, for Louise was only eight years old. And before she reached her ninth birthday, not even her mother would be able to convince her that strikebreakers and railroad bosses, to whom she soon began to refer to as "them sonafabitches" were not bad people.


In June of 1894, six months after Debs' appearance in Wadsworth, two important events occurred, one affecting the Bryant family, the other everyone in the Western United States. On the twenty first of that month, Mrs. Bryant gave birth to the first of Sheridan's two sons, and five days later the "Debs Rebellion" (it was labeled that at once by newspapers) began, and before it was three days old it had brought to a standstill all railroad transportation west of Chicago.


It was the great and violent railroad tie-up of 1894, involving Debs' newly created American Railway Union and every community whose existence depended on shipments of supplies the struck roads had been providing.

The greatest impact of the upheaval was on railroad towns like Wadsworth where everything depended on the railroad. In Wadsworth, itself, a food shortage developed almost immediately, and Louise's new brother Floyd, a sickly baby, rejecting his mother's breast, added to the gloom that enveloped the Bryant home, with his almost round-the-clock screams, wails and long, pitiful sobs.


They were sad, dreadful days for eight-year-old Louise, even though the conflict lasted only a short time and all rail transportation everywhere was back to normal by July 15. Worst of all was her loneliness and feeling of rejection by her mother. Mrs. Bryant was so preoccupied with the baby and so many other problems the strike had created, she had little time to talk to her about what was happening and why.


She heard the old words again, "exploitation," "tyranny," and some new ones, "boycott," "injunctions," and Jimmy Kolchak's furious blasphemous attack on the railroad owners and "scabs" and soldiers, all of whom were "sonafabitches." Jimmy, whom everybody called "the Polack," was the boy Louise Bryant would have her first sex affair with some years later, but now he wasn't even ten, and he offered her his explanation of what was going on.

"Them sonafabitches bosses want to cut my papa's pay again," said Jimmy. Louise was skeptical. She hadn't heard Sheridan or anybody else say that. "Well," said Jimmy, spitting viciously on the ground, "them sonafabitches don't like my papa because we're Polacks."



Eugene Debs was a member of the railroad firemen's brotherhood at the time the A. F. of L. was launched. He had begun work as a roundhouse laborer in 1870 in Terre Haute, Indiana, at the age of fifteen. His pay was fifty cents a day for cleaning the grease from freight locomotives after their regular runs. He had to buy his own scraper to loosen the grease, but the company provided the borax. His knuckles were always raw and bleeding.


A half dozen unsuccessful railroad strikes, called by unions to keep wages from being slashed when profits, for one reason or another, dipped, convinced Debs there is little chance of winning any concessions from railroad owners so long as workers were organized in individual unions according to their crafts. A union striking without support of the other unions on the same railroad was bound to lose. The A.F.of L. was just the kind of labor organization Debs was talking about -engineers, firemen, conductors, brakemen, switchmen, machinists . . .all had individual unions. And it was not at all unusual that when one called a strike, the others would act as strikebreakers.

In 1893, the union Debs organized - the American Railway Union - came into existence. It was a revolutionary new type of a labor organization and was immediately attacked from every quarter - industry, the newspapers, railroad owners, mining interests, and, not too surprisingly, by the officers of the American Federation of Labor.


Every railroad worker, no matter what his craft was, could join the One Big Union. And despite opposition from every quarter, the new union was an immediate success. By the middle of December, only six months after it was organized, when Debs appeared in Wadsworth, a sizeable part of the railroad industry west of Chicago was organized into the American Railway Union. The rush to join was a stampede. To the railroad workers it meant that in the event of a strike there would be no strikebreaking by one group of workers against another. The entire railroad network would be tied up.


The 1894 railroad strike, the most violent in labor history - "the Debs Revolution", it was called, began under these circumstances:


The builders of Pullman sleeping cars would not budge in their refusal to talk with their workers, who had gone out on strike because their wages were slashed by the usual practice of simply posting a notice.


The Debs union ordered members on all railroads to refuse to couple and uncouple sleeping cars to passenger trains.


The railroads complained their contracts with the Pullman Company barred them from running passenger trains without sleeping cars.


The federal government declared the mail must move, no matter what is involved, and called out troops to see that trains moved.

In Wadsworth, eight-year-old Louise Bryant knew nothing of this at that time. She sat on a three-legged stool in the kitchen, watching her mother trying to pacify the baby, and listening to Sheridan read the strike news in the Wadsworth Dispatch and the Reno Gazette and the Nevada Journal. Nothing made sense. She had never before heard phrases like; "court injunctions," "propaganda leaflets," "shoot to kill orders," "dynamite on train trestles," "six soldiers drowned," "strike- breakers beaten." In Wadsworth, so far there had not been any violence, and the twice-weekly Dispatch, in an attempt to lighten the grim news, said in its usual column of brevities: "Wadsworth is at present as quiet as a country graveyard. Not even a dog fight to disturb anybody."


But it was a strange, eerie, quiet - particularly in the railroad yards a short distance from their back porch. Ever since they came to Wadsworth, there had never been a moment when Louise couldn't hear the clatter and clanging and shouting of railroad crews, coupling and uncoupling freight and passenger cars, and the puffing and whistling and racket of switching, called "goats." The roundhouse, too, was quiet and no smoke came from the large, square smokestacks on the roof to show locomotives were being fired up or waiting to be moved outside by hostlers and their helpers.


Then one night the quiet ended. Louise was awakened by a terrible explosion and shouting and screaming, and through the window of her bedroom she saw the fire from the roundhouse. Outside were all the neighbors on their back porches looking in the direction of the roundhouse fire. Strikebreakers had been brought to Wadsworth, guarded by troops that afternoon, and the railroad superintendent was determined to reopen the shops and the roundhouse in the morning and get the locomotives back into service. At night, the strikers mostly shop and car repair workers had managed to get into the roundhouse and the shops despite the guards. They smashed machinery, disconnected pistons from locomotive cylinders, tore off brake shoes and created all kinds of other havoc. Then someone threw a lighted match into one of the kerosene barrels, and as the strikers fled, they were fired on by the guards. In the morning Louise heard about the men who were beaten and shot at, and hauled off to a stockade that had been put up on the school grounds.


Then it was over. It began on June 26, and by July 15 everything was back to normal, with all trains running on time. Court injunctions, federal troops and state militia, along with strikebreaking craft union members smashed the boycott. Every member of Debs' American Railway Union was jobless and none was back to work until he could demonstrate he was not involved in violence or sabotage.


Debs, himself, served a six-month jail term for contemptuously tearing up a court injunction, and in 1920 while in prison for opposing World War One, ran for President of the United States, collecting almost a million votes. As for his revolutionary plan for organizing workers along industry-wide lines instead of craft unions, it followed the pattern of all significant new ideas considered outlandish, preposterous, anarchic, a threat to civilization itself, when first proposed. Upon accumulating enough myths and traditions of their own - they are accepted. Thus Debs' industrial union idea became the Congress of Industrial Organizations, better known as the CIO, in Franklin Roosevelt's nineteen-thirties, with opposition only from those opposed to unions by whatever name.





It was surprising how quickly Wadsworth's children forgot Eugene Debs and nearly everything that had happened to them and their families only a few months earlier. In September, Louise and Barbara were back in school, even though Sheridan had not yet been cleared of involvement in violence, and was not rehired until just before Christmas. There were quite a few empty seats that term because so many had been blacklisted, and many of them were forced to move to Winnemucca, some distance to the east in Nevada, while others went to Reno, or over the mountains to California.


Louise didn't forget - not for a moment. But it was not until she began attending the lectures of a remarkable English instructor, Herbert Crombie Howe, on the University of Oregon campus at Eugene, was she able to start piecing together the social and economic elements in American life which created such violent opposition to Eugene Debs and his attempt to organize workers along non-traditional lines.


Campus days, however, were still a long ways off for Louise, and Debs' appearance in Wadsworth and the impression he made on her, did very little to suppress her urge to draw attention to herself, no matter by what means or what the consequences might be.


Thus, Ernie Pierson, who says he is ninety or maybe more, and who lives in a shack in Wadsworth just about where the Bryant home stood three-quarters of a century ago, takes you outside, faces west, swings his right arm in a wide arc and points to what is now a large stretch of desert. "Right there is where the roundhouse and shops were and all the rest was mostly railroad yard." Then he turns to the left, points to a large weed and shrub-infested hollow, and says: "That's where the whorehouse was. My brother and the fellows would stand there and get horny watching it."


He remembers one cold winter morning he was helping his brother deliver milk. When they came to the Bryant home, his brother told him to go ahead and deliver the milk. He took the big milk can and opened the front door (nobody locked their doors at that time) to fill the pan customers always had ready.


"And there stood Barbara and Louise by the stove to keep warm while getting dressed. Barbara skedaddled into the bed-room like a scared rabbit when she saw me, but Louise only pretended she was in a hurry, and walked slowly to where she stood behind the stove, dragging her dress after her, and she kept peeking out at me. I never saw a girl before without a dress on in long white drawers with lace at the bottom of the legs."


In the fall of 1896, when she was nearing her eleventh birthday and school had just begun, the Wadsworth Dispatch carried this item under the caption BIRTHS:


BRYANT — at his home on Railroad Street,

on September 8, 1896, to the wife

of Sheridan Bryant, a son.

It was her mother's second child by Sheridan, and they named him William Philip, the Philip to honor Uncle Philip Flick. (William Bryant was hopelessly crippled in the First World War and died at his home in Van Nuys, California, a ward of the Veterans Administration.)


The item in the paper made ten-year-old Louise mad. Why, she wanted to know, did the newspaper item fail to mention her mother's name? It was she and not Sheridan who gave birth to the baby, wasn't it? This new injustice only increased her growing dislike of Sheridan and his gold tooth, who complained because she had began referring to him as Sheridan instead of the usual names children use.


"You must call me father or daddy or papa, like Barbara does," Sheridan admonished her.


"You are not my papa or my daddy or my father,” replied Louise on the verge of tears, "My father was a famous writer, and fought Indians while building the railroad, and he even knew President Cleveland, and I am going to be a famous writer like him some day, and I don't care what Barbara or anybody else calls you. I am going to call you Sheridan, Sheridan, Sheridan!"

Her mother was very tired, and worried about the way Louise and Sheridan had been quarreling, and could not answer questions about why newspapers wrote the way they did about births or anything else, in a way that would satisfy Louise. Louise, however, would not be put off. She could not under-stand how her mother could accept this terrible slight so calmly and resolved to do something about it herself. She sauntered out of the house, and began to walk faster when she was outside. Her destination was the Wadsworth Dispatch Office.

She was going to find out why women were being treated even worse at times, than the railroad workers by their bosses. They gave birth to children and cooked and kept house and all they were allowed to do for money was to teach school or work in the library, or do what the women in that house across the street from them did.


Nick Hummel, the editor looked up. "Oh, you're the Bryant girl who collected food and clothing for the miners' families from Colorado, aren't you?"


"Yes, and I want to know why you didn't give my mother's name in the paper when the baby was born."


Hummel looked puzzled, glanced at the page she handed him, scratched his head, looked closely at the determined little girl before him. "Well," he said, "I never thought of that one." He was silent a moment then laughed. "Your mother once told me that your father was a writer in San Francisco. You going to be one too?"

Louise nodded. "I guess," said Hummel, "people don't give women the credit they should. I guess the reason papers write birth notices that way is so that everybody will know the mother was a married woman and didn’t have a baby without being married to somebody. When you become a writer, dear, try to change that. I'll try and do better the next time somebody is born."

"But he never did," Louise told a meeting of sorority sisters interested in the women's suffrage movement on the Eugene campus, "and babies continued being born in Wadsworth and written up so that people should know the mother didn't bring an illegitimate child into the world.


At eleven, Louise experienced periods of depression without knowing why. She knew only that she was unhappy because her mother had so very little time for her now that she had Billy to take care of along with two-year-old Floyd. True, Mrs. Bryant always managed to see to it that both she and Barbara always turned up at school in spotlessly clean dresses and Louise's long shiny black hair was neatly braided and the ends tied together with a bright bit of ribbon.


Sometimes Louise felt guilty and remorseful and surprised both her mother and Barbara by a sudden interest in scraping and washing the dishes and insisted on taking on the chores Barbara had always had to perform. Still she continued to resent the attention and love her mother lavished on the boys, and she made it quite clear to Barbara that someday- she would show everybody she could outdo them in every field.


She continued to badger her mother with questions, sometimes so outlandish Mrs. Bryant, now nearing forty and picking' up weight, could only look at her with frustration and despair.


As Louise saw her mother change from the pretty, youngish woman who always had time to talk to her and tell her grand stories, she blamed Sheridan and her brothers. She gradually pulled away from her mother, wondering how she let Sheridan change her so, and determined that she would never let a man do this to her.


As her feeling of estrangement from her mother grew, her father, Hugh Mohan, began to appear more and more frequently in her dreams at night. Sometimes, however, as she was complaining bitterly to him about the way her mother ignored her while lavishing attention on her brothers, he would vanish and she would find herself talking to one of the women in the big house across the street, or to Eugene Debs. Other times, when he beckoned to her and she came near, she would find it was Eugene Debs, and once all three of them and the women from across the street were fighting with the soldiers who were trying to keep them from getting into the burning roundhouse.


In the daytime world, she began to find it more and more awkward to confide in her mother, and soon even her flow of questions began to taper off. What troubled her and made her feel guilty, was that no matter how resentful and mean she was to Sheridan, he continued to be gentle and kind to everyone, and more so to her than to the others.


Wadsworth's houses of ill fame - all twenty-four of them - were of course, off limits to boys and girls, especially the one across the street from the Bryant home. This was because this one was some distance from uptown, where the others were located. Here, the dispensers of the world's oldest profitable commodity came from the best brothels in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, and the fees were set deliberately high to force the hoi-polloi of Wadsworth's libidinous male population to seek erotic pleasure elsewhere.


In short, this one was reserved for the best people of Wadsworth, which, in turn, made it irresistible to boys and girls in the early and middle teens. Despite rigid instructions from their parents, they found ways to collect material for discussion at school the next day.


Louise outdid everyone. . .she actually got to talk with Mamie, the bosomy blonde with Scandinavian features.


She was twelve and a half on that warm early June afternoon when the perfect opportunity presented itself. Sheridan was on the road and Mrs. Bryant and Barbara had gone uptown to shop, planning to attend a shower for a June bride afterward.


Louise picked the best apparel available - the outfit that Mrs. Bryant had bought for Barbara's confirmation - a full skirt with a deep hem at the bottom, tightly gathered at the waist, and falling prettily about her legs. It had a low neckline with short full puff sleeves, which spread gracefully like balloons, and the sleeves, as well as the neck, were trimmed with narrow lace edging.


Louise glanced out the window, saw only one figure in the rocking chair on the long porch of the big house, and picking up a rubber ball from the sofa, walked out of the house. No one was in sight. She crossed the street, bouncing the ball as she went, and stopped at the high, slightly sloping wooden sidewalk that led to the house. She bounced the ball once or twice and when it began gliding down the slope, she pretended annoyance and went a bit faster after it.


Mamie watched curiously as Louise stopped to retrieve the ball just as it was opposite her chair on the porch. She smiled at Louise and beckoned to her. Louise suddenly was frightened. What if someone saw her; She hesitated and began to walk slowly toward the porch steps.


"That," said Mamie, "is a very pretty outfit you're wearing." Louise felt better. She appraised Mamie as she rocked back and forth, and suddenly felt embarrassed when she realized that Mamie had on nothing more than an oversized pink negligee with white lace in front and on her feet pink slippers to match, which had tufts of white cotton in the center.


Mamie glanced at Louise's lovely, but bewildered, face and smiled.


"You're right, dear. I don't wear anything underneath. Here we only dress in the evening when it's time to greet the guests."


Louise could only stare at Mamie rocking slowly in the chair. She had never heard anyone talk like that. She glanced quickly again to see if anyone was watching.


Then she grew bolder. "But your lips, why are they that color?"


"That," said Mamie, "is lipstick. Men like women who use lipstick and rouge and powder and perfume. But you, dear, don't need it. You're real pretty in that nice dress, and I never saw anyone with such red cheeks like you have."


That broke the ice. Louise asked to smell the lipstick and Mamie reached into a handbag on the floor beside her and let her rub a little lipstick on her lips, then quickly rubbed it off.


Mamie laughed, "I'd let you keep it, but if your ma found out she'd have the police here in no time and we'd be run out of town."


Louise grew still bolder. She told Mamie that her mother had said the reason women lived in this house was because they had no husbands and needed money to buy food and did things with men they didn't even like.


Mamie was silent and then said: "No, dear, it's not quite that bad. I had a husband, but he was killed in a train wreck ' in Salt Lake City and the company wouldn't even pay for the funeral, and Gene Debs' union was busted by the troops. So I went to Seattle and got a job like this before coming here. Living here, dear, is much better than a pot walloping job or hash slinging in some greasy spoon, and don't let nobody tell you it ain't."


Louise didn't know what pot walloping was, but did know what hash slinging meant. Anyhow, she was so excited and could hardly wait until she would be able to swear her friends to secrecy and tell them about this great adventure.


But as daring as Louise was, she waited until she was on the Eugene campus of the University of Oregon, and away from the Bryants in Nevada, before she began wearing lipstick, becoming the first woman on the campus to do so, and brazenly appear in public. This did nothing to improve the university's image throughout the state of Oregon. The campus was already being attacked from every direction as a hotbed of radicalism and atheism because of the unorthodox teaching methods employed by Professor Howe.



Whether the Bryants learned of Louise's meeting with Mamie could not be determined. But Ernie Pierson said the boys quickly found out about it and began calling her Lulu instead of Louise - a name the "call boys" had given her because she flirted with them when they came to the Bryant home to tell Sheridan what train crew he was to join.


"We all became jealous of the Polack," said Pierson. "We were now sure that when the Polack and Lulu crawled into an empty box car in the railroad yards to neck (it was called "spooning") they were not necking - they were doing the "real thing."


As for Louise, she did nothing to discourage the spreading of these reports by,: and among, her girl friends. Indeed, she embellished them by hinting at probing questions she had posed to elicit confidential information from Mamie about the erotic lives Mamie and her friends led.


The truth, however, was that it was quite some time before she began to add a new dimension to her own life by starting to think seriously, more and more frequently, about the "real thing" involving Jimmy Kolchak. She had always liked him, but this was mostly because he never failed to listen carefully when she talked to him about her father and grandparents and her own hopes to become a writer. He, himself, was not so ambitious. He told her that he had an uncle who owned a general merchandise store in Stockton, California, and would someday go to work for him, but he also thought he would like to take singing lessons. Everybody said he had such a nice voice.


Their favorite place to meet during summer vacation was the shady space between the school wall and the big cylindrical fire escape. There they would sit with their backs to the wall, she with her eyes shut, dreamily talking about the future, and he listening, while his hand roamed along her knee toward her thigh. She did not mind, because it was pleasant and vaguely exciting, not much different from the times she and Jimmy were kissing and hugging and he fumbled around with his hands all over her. Sometimes he would try to get his hand under her dress and she would become a little frightened and break away from him.


But one warm June day in 1900, when she was about six and a half months past her fourteenth birthday, and he was almost sixteen. Jimmy Kolchak suddenly became two different people. First, he was her friend and confidant, listening attentively to what she had to say. But when they finally rose to their feet, and she put her arms around him as she had always done when they were ready to go home, she found herself staring at someone else - a boy with wild eyes and a white face and trembling hands, clutching at her, pleading and begging, pushing her to the ground with one hand while the other frantically tore at the bottom of her dress. She began to fight him off but then she relented and was still.


It was a painful, messy and awkward experience - not even remotely related to the way she had dreamed it would be in her highly romantic fantasies. Only the effect it had on Jimmy amazed and intrigued her.


When it was over. Jimmy was contrite and apologetic and both were silent as they walked home. Louise marveled at the change. Only a short time ago he was so wild and eager, pledging eternal love, mumbling over and over that he had made sure she would not get in trouble, promising everything in the world.


She wanted to talk to her mother about what had happened to her, but quickly realized the time was gone for that sort of thing. It would achieve nothing, only add to her mother's distress.


In bed that night, as she went over each detail of the afternoon in her mind, she found her discomfort and embarrassment giving way to a sense of power and pleasure over her ability to affect this young man so deeply. It gave her a warm glow and helped her to dismiss the loneliness and desertion she had been feeling at home.


And so, the next time she and Jimmy were alone his eager-ness and devotion quickly overcame her reluctance and sex suddenly became an exciting and important element in her life.


It continued to delight Louise how overwhelmed Jimmy was each time. He would ask her to marry him when they were both old enough, offering to work the rest of his life for her, and even die for her.


The next ten years or so, left no doubt in Louise's mind that the world was full of Jimmys.



At home, things were going from bad to worse. Mrs. Bryant had begun getting hints from parents of Louise's classmates that her daughter was not the best influence in the world on their own daughters. And Louise, heady with her new power, was becoming a notorious young "vamp," and twenty-year-old men were beginning to cast longing glances in her direction.


When Louise was nearing her seventeenth birthday, the Southern Pacific was ready to begin moving everything from Wadsworth to Sparks, and Barbara was engaged to marry Fred Hansen, a civil engineer the railroad had sent in to help in the moving. Then Mrs. Bryant became more than ever concerned about her daughter's future. They would soon be living near Reno and Louise would be going to the university there and living away from home. That was the time Mrs. Bryant began revealing to Louise and Barbara the truth about her life with their father, and the way he had died. She tried hard to convince Louise that had her father not lived quite so rebelliously, so unconventionally, quite so devil-may-care, he would, in all probability, not have died when he was only forty years old, and he might have achieved some of the goals he had struggled so hard for - perhaps at a slower pace, who knows. . . But it was too late, Louise had made her choice-the pattern of her life was set and irreversible.



Barbara and Fred Hansen were married in Reno on June 2, 1902, and Nick Hummel pulled out all the stops when he wrote it up for the Wadsworth Dispatch. Nearly everyone was mentioned in a flowery description of the marriage ceremony "at sunset in the parlors of the Riverside Hotel in Reno." The three line headline said: "The Wedding of One of Wadsworth's Fairest Daughters." "Miss Louise Bryant acted as bridesmaid, while S. D. Bryant, her father, gave the bride away." And then came this glowing tribute:


The groom is a civil engineer in the employ of the Southern Pacific Company. He made many friends during his sojourn in Wadsworth, andalways was a fine young man in character and habit, and is tendered the congratulations of our people in having won so estimable a young lady for a life partner.


The bride is a very handsome woman and a very sensible one, and will adorn any home or station. She is accomplished and has those traits that goto make a charming wife. She has lived in Wadsworth the most of her young life and has won the admiration and respect of all with whom she came in contact.


With her friends who are legion, the Dispatch unites in wishing her and her husband many years of happiness. They will spend their honeymoontouring the land of sunshine, fruit and flowers, California.


That "sonafabitch" Nick Hummel again failed to mention her mother's name.






The Southern Pacific's move to Sparks was completed in 1904. Every bit of railroad property was loaded onto flat freight cars and moved; even the trees in the little park by the downtown depot were uprooted for replanting in Sparks. The homes were torn down board by board for reassembling at their new location. The Wadsworth Dispatch moved and became today's Sparks Dispatch. The "coup de grace" was administered to the once-booming railroad town with a population of 2,500, by the Southern Pacific when it moved the main line tracks to a new location. Wadsworth then began sinking into dusty obscurity to become one of Nevada's many ghost towns.


In Sparks, the railroad set aside a narrow strip of land that ran parallel with the tracks and all who had homes in Wadsworth drew lots for bits of ground on which to reassemble them. The Bryant home went up a hundred yards or so in back of what is now the garish Nugget Casino. A couple of blocks to the west, the Cunninghams put up their home. Cunningham was an engineer, who often pulled the trains on which Sheridan Bryant was the conductor. Their son, Ferris - himself a retired Southern Pacific engineer, still lives in the house.


It is he who best recalls the Bryant family - his playmates Floyd and Bill, Mrs. Bryant, taking on weight and playing the piano, Sheridan Bryant, in his conductor's uniform. "He looked just like one of those conductors you now see in the old, old movies on television," said Cunningham.


"Louise looked grander and more magnificent in her fashionable clothes each time she came to spend a weekend with her family while she was living on the University of Nevada campus," he recalled, "and it made Floyd and Bill and me feel funny inside." He laughed: "I know now what was happening to us boys, but at the time it just made us jittery."


"Each time she turned up she had something new to tell us. One time she said: 'You know, of course, that I am writing articles for the newspapers in San Francisco and New York.'" That was long before she had ever been inside of a city newsroom.



In the fall of 1903, when Louise enrolled at the University of Nevada, she was almost eighteen and was well on the way to becoming the slender, willowy, raven-haired beauty who would overwhelm John Reed, Eugene O'Neill and William C. Bullitt. Even jealous women grudgingly described her as "strikingly pretty." Her Celtic features were highlighted by rosy cheeks, and her violet-tinged eyes would deepen with excitement. Older men sometimes called her Rosy because of her cheeks, and sorority sisters remembered how she would feign annoyance and exclaim: "0, those cheeks of mine. I look like a street-woman." She wore her hair pompadour style, and wide skirts that swirled about her legs as she walked. Edna Folsom, one of her sorority sisters, who now lives in a fashionable rest home in Reno, described her as "one of the most beautiful girls the University of Nevada campus had ever seen."


Here, at the University of Nevada, she gave her correct age for the last time, listing 1885 as the year of her birth, and San Francisco the place where she was born. By the time she enrolled at the University of Oregon, she had made herself two years younger, giving 1887 as her birth year. She finally settled for 1894, some ten years younger than she really was. The slashing of years from her age was only one of the many steps she would take to preserve her new image of herself. That she succeeded is demonstrated by the many who accepted the dates at face value for articles and biographies.


She was classified at Reno as a middle high school student. This was because few high schools in Nevada, like the combined elementary and high school in Wadsworth, provided courses that would qualify students for college entrance at that time. She was one of the University's total enrollments of 356 students in 1903, with 89 taking the middle high school courses. The next year she moved to liberal arts and joined the editorial staff of the Student Record, forerunner of the present campus paper, The Sagebrush.


Mrs. Bryant's fears were justified. Louise not only refused to live at the Bryant home in Sparks, a few miles from the campus, but after a brief trial of living with Uncle Philip and Aunt Mary, who had by that time given up farming and moved into a Reno house at 215 Walnut Street, she gave that up also. She wanted no one to tell her that nice young ladies didn't undress and drop their clothes on the floor of whatever room they happened to be in at the moment. "And," said Aunt Mary, "they see to it that ALL their petticoats are spotlessly clean, and not just the top one."


So Louise packed her belongings and moved to Manzanita Hall on the campus.


She quickly became involved with one of the handsome male students, Leslie Elliott, the son of a wealthy cattle ranch family near Bridgeport, California. All this happened so many, many years ago, but for Louise's Manzanita Hall sorority sister, Mrs. Edna 5'olson, it is as though it was a recent occurrence. "All of us at Manzanita were crazy about Leslie, but he had eyes only for Louise. When she left the campus, he was heart-broken and despondent. Any one of us would have been happy to comfort and console him, but he just kept on brooding and walking around like a lost soul. When she left Reno, we did not hear from her, nor anything about her, until years later when her name began to turn up in big headlines in all the papers."


And what headlines they were:


On February 21, 1919, thirteen years after Louise left the Seno campus, newspapers throughout the country reported her appearance before a committee of the United States Senate, investigating post-World War One propaganda in America, and the Reno Evening Gazette splashed it all over page one with an eight-column headline: "Sparks Girl Center of Bolshevik Movement Probe." Then came several one-column drop-heads in smaller and smaller type: "Former University/Student Creates/Uproar as/witness... Louise Bryant, Was Brought Up/At Wadsworth and Is Well Known/ In This City.... Her Father Is Conductor On/S.P. and Two Brothers Are/ Lieutenants in Army."


In addition to describing her actual appearance before the committee, the article took pains to remind the paper's readers: "Many in Reno and Sparks recall her for the radical views she expressed both in and out of the classrooms and in public."


Listed among her numerous other sins was the fact that she was a suffragette and was among those extremists in the movement who tried to burn President Wilson in effigy before the White House.


The Gazette appeared to be taking what might best be described as ghoulish pride at being able to report that in her appearance before the committee in Washington, Louise Bryant, a Sparks girl, "created an uproar (which) occupied space in every daily paper in the country." (The nation was at that time in the grip of post-war mass hysteria, and in Sparks the headlines were turning the lives of Louise’ mother and poor, bewildered Sheridan Bryant in a nightmare. Insults became more and more humiliating and threats more and more ominous. Neighbors shunned them and fellow-workers spoke to Sheridan only when their work required it. Sheridan was finally forced to ask the southern Pacific to transfer him from sparks to the eastern terminal of the division across the Sierra Nevada at Roseville, a short distance from Sacramento. Louise, too, was deeply affected. She was not unaware of the impact her activities had on her mother, by that time, sixty-two, and she felt helplessly trapped. Her notes are evidence that one of the reasons she married the millionaire-diplomat Bullitt was a hope that marriage to a man of Bullitt’s great wealth and stature in the diplomatic world would help lessen her mother’s grief. It did little, however, to impress the people of Sparks. “We heard,” said Ferris Cunningham, their Sparks neighbor, “that Louise went and married another radical by the name of Bullitt.”)


By 1906, Louise accumulated enough credits to move to the University of Oregon campus at Eugene. Here her intellectual development took a new turn under the influence of the remark-able English instructor, Herbert Crombie Howe. While at the other end of the continent, at Harvard, John Reed, was about to come under the influence of an equally remarkable English instructor, Charles Townsend Copeland, known to all the students as "Copey."


But unlike Professor Copeland, who was content with devoting his energies to turning out some of the nation's most distinguished authors and political commentators. Professor Howe's unorthodox style of teaching, and activities on and off the campus, shook up the entire state of Oregon during the first two decades of this century in a way that would not be equaled until the riotous days of the nineteen-sixties. Louise Bryant added to this, by wearing daringly sheer blouses and turning up in public with lipstick.



She had selected history for her major, but she soon found the head of that department Professor Joseph Schafer, dignified, scholarly, but completely dull and uninspiring. It was inevitable that she should join the scores of other students who flocked to Professor Howe's lectures. And what lectures: They caused parents, taxpayers, investigating committees, preachers and newspaper editors throughout the state to demand not only the ouster of Professor Howe, but all radicals, from tax-supported college payrolls.


There certainly was nothing about the professor's appearance, when Louise first saw him, to suggest he was the sort who could arouse the entire state of Oregon the way he did. He was a mild-mannered, slight-built man in his middle thirties, with a Vandyke beard and a heavy mustache. His black hair was combed straight back. During lectures he wore gray trousers and a dark coat buttoned so high, barely a trace of his white shirt and black bowtie showed. Only his penetrating eyes gave hint of a man in love with books and a determination to bring to life the ideas buried in their pages.


He had been head of the English Department for five years when Louise enrolled, and by that time had the state of Oregon in an uproar. For as soon as he came to Eugene from Cornell University in New York, he began a campaign to convert the place from a sleepy academy to a dynamic educational institution. It seemed like a great idea, but it was devastating to Oregon educational tradition. Only the university's liberal president, Dr. Frank Strong, seemed to remain unperturbed. But before too long, he too, became troubled.


Professor Howe was a Unitarian; he was a Socialist and wrote the platform for Eugene's Socialist candidate for mayor; he was an agnostic and Louise sat wide-eyed and open-mouthed when she heard him say: "The Biblical story of original sin, is a survival from the days when our ancestors were savages, apparently cannibals, and imagined their gods after their own cruel hearts. The idea that God could not forgive the remote descendants of Adam and Eve until He had been placated by the blood of His own Son, is a hideously ogrerish notion."


When word of this talk on "The Humanity of Christ" got out, taxpayers began flooding editors with letters demanding that the Board of Regents get rid of agnostics, radicals and other trouble makers before their children became infected. The Grants Pass Outlook told its readers: "Oregon is witnessing the first case of pronounced heresy." The Cottage Grove Sentinel's headline said: BLASTING AT THE ROCK / ATTACKS FAITH OF OUR FATHERS. And Evangelist Roscoe Drummond hurled Biblical thunderbolts throughout the state. "I would rather have fifty saloons in a town than one Unitarian Church," he roared. "Saloons can be got rid of by voting them out of business at the polls." Even some of the more conservative professors began to petition President Strong with demands that he do something.


Louise had never been happier. Professor Howe's lectures were eye-openers. She waited eagerly for those occasions when he met with small groups of students for private sessions, but all his lectures were stimulating, exciting and informative. He had, among other things, inaugurated the practice of lecturing to mixed classes on books, which had always been taboo. And scandal of scandals, he returned to the shelves, books by such daring authors as Ibsen, Zola and others, whose works had always been carefully expurgated of material which might taint the morals of the students who read them.


Scandalous or not, Ibsen and Zola banished forever whatever inhibitions Louise still had about sex. Jack London had not yet written his most significant two books, "Martin Eden," and "The Iron Heel," but she was intrigued when she learned he had become a Socialist while in jail in 1894, the very year of the Eugene Debs conflict. Tolstoy and Dostoievski gave her the first glimpse of life in Russia, and Shaw's "Man and Superman," published only a few years earlier, answered a good many questions about woman's place in society, and convinced her that only by becoming militant and aggressive would they ever achieve their rightful place.


She became active on and off the campus. She circulated petitions on behalf of public ownership of Eugene's utilities, passed out leaflets urging support for the socialist candidate for mayor, and was among the leaders of students who threatened to boycott classes if Professor Howe was fired. She found time to organize a chapter of Chi Omega on the campus, and to play the romantic lead in Sheridan's "Rivals," with the University's dramatic department when it staged its annual play in downtown Eugene. She also became an associate editor on the staff of the University of Oregon Monthly Magazine, providing black and white drawings to Illustrate stories, and saw her very first poem appear in print in the magazine:


Every leaf of red and gold,

That flutters in the wind,

Every drop of dreary rain,

Methinks brings back to mind

...That summer's dead.


So every golden pumpkin,

The apples bright and red,

Every cheery fireplace,

Seemed as if they said

...That autumn's here.


Her clothes, especially her lace blouses, became more and more daring. Only an appeal, tinged with a threat from the housemother, caused her to slow down on the blouses, which were nearing the scandalous stage. She insisted she was not trying to attract men, but was only defying convention. She did not need daring clothes to attract men - a dozen were competing for her attention. Her "steady" became Carl Washburn, the bachelor son of the wealthy Washburn Department Store family. Carl was Eugene's most eligible bachelor, and what caused so much tongue wagging was the fact that he was not even a University of Oregon student.


Significantly, Louise wrote her thesis on the Modoc Indian "War of 1372-73; one of the most vicious and treacherous in the history of Indian warfare in the West.



One day near the end of her stay at the University of Oregon, there appeared on the campus, at the invitation of Professor Howe, a most unusual individual. He came onto the platform to lecture on "The Poor Quality of Modern Education" in knee-high boots into which were tucked the bottoms of his trousers. His mauve-colored frockcoat was buttoned tightly and a bright, red ribbon, more than four inches wide and made into a huge bow tie, extended on each side of his long beard. This was Charles Erskine Scott Wood, Indian fighter, statesman, educator, poet, artist, author and Robin Hood-type lawyer. He was practicing law at that time in Portland where he had two offices - one in the Chamber of Commerce Building where he met corporation clients, which Included Jim Hill's Great Northern Railroad. The other was a hideaway where he met with radicals who were in trouble with the law and broke. To this hideaway, also came poets, inventors, would-be authors and other dreamers of grand projects. He, him-self, wrote deeply moving poetry and authored books and articles, the most famous of which appeared years later in book form under the title, "Heavenly Discourse."


Wood was fifty-six years old at that time, but he had not yet begun to lose interest in pretty women. At the reception at Professor Howe's home in his honor after the lecture, Louise introduced herself and told him how much she had enjoyed his lecture. Wood smiled and looked closely at her. Was that lipstick she was wearing? He asked her some questions about herself. Then he held Louise's hand while saying good-night, and with his fingers lingering on her bare arm, suggested that she drop in to see him at his office in the Chamber of Commerce Building should she decide to make her home in Portland after graduation.


Because of her preparatory studies and credits at the University of Nevada, she was able to collect her Bachelor of Arts degree in History after only two years and three months at Eugene. On January 8, 1909, she left the University of Oregon -her destination - Portland.






It didn't take long for her to discover what she might have learned on the campus at Eugene had she made some inquiries and read the Portland newspapers at the university's library. Professor Howe, Joseph Schafer, even Charles Erskine Scott Wood, when he came to lecture, would have made clear, that for a woman to break into the journalism business in 1909 could be likened to the biblical camel's attempt to get through the eye of a needle. Moreover a reading of the Portland papers would have made it equally clear that, even if she had managed the miracle and gotten a job on a Portland paper, there was nothing in their columns, news wise or editorial wise, to encourage the belief she would be able to set the world on fire.


It was truly a man's world. Whenever women did manage to break into journalism they were invariably relegated to the dreary, dull work of writing routine items about the doings of society, and Portland was no exception. In instances, where women managed somehow to gain fame as artists and scientists, or notoriety as criminals, it was usually male drama critics and science editors who wrote the newsworthy items about the former, and male police reporters who took care of the sensational details involving the latter. Louise had assumed that her diploma and copies of the campus magazine listing her as a member of the editorial staff, plus samples of her fine black and white drawings for the magazine, would be more than enough to demonstrate her qualifications for a newspaper job.


Disillusionment came quickly. Not even sheer blouses and lipstick could overcome the myth that women were unequipped both physically and emotionally to work alongside of men in journalism. William Randolph Hearst finally let women into journalism, but only by creating a new myth that only women (at lower pay, of course) could write "sob stories" about wives of criminals who were about to be hung. At that moment in history, however, Hearst was trying to become mayor of New York, and he had no paper in Portland, anyway.


There were four daily papers in Portland at that time -the Oregonian, the Journal, the Telegram and the Daily News, and at each one city editors shook their heads. Even the society departments were closed to her. The city editors were certain that in addition to being unequipped to meet the rugged requirements for being a journalist, this applicant for a job would be a disruptive element if she were hired. They felt that the very presence of this provocative brunette would play havoc with the morale of the other women employees, most of who were plain, honest, uncomplaining, and quite content and eager to do what they were told to do.


She persisted, however, and returned again and again, until it became the job of the copyboys to say, "No, nothing yet, Miss Bryant," as soon as they saw her coming. At the Telegram, a short, chubby, balding man tried to explain to her that Portland was a rough place even for men journalists, and women trying to compete with them in covering sordid crimes, fires, often violent labor disputes and political scandals, would find themselves helpless. She told him that she could handle it, but John Small shook his head. "I even tried to 'vamp' him," she told the cartoonist. Art Young, years later when she no longer had to pretend she was once a feature writer for the Oregonian.



Finally she thought of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and his invitation to visit him if she came to Portland. She recalled the way he looked at her as his fingers slid along her bare arm at Professor Howe's reception. She had some reservations, but she was also running out of choices.


She needn't, however, have had any qualms. For by the time she arrived in Portland, Wood was already deeply involved with Sara Bard Field, who was only two years older than Louise, and was still the wife of Albert Ehrgott, a Baptist minister, inclined toward Socialism, as was Sara herself. (Sara, who some ten years later became one of California’s distinguished prize-winning poets and finally California’s Laureate, eventually abandoned her husband to spend the rest of her life with Wood.)


Louise decided to see him. To her pleasant surprise he greeted her warmly, ready to help, and listened closely, smiling occasionally as she told him about her troubles trying to convince city editors that they should give her a chance at journalism. He seemed impressed and moved when she explained why she was so determined to become a journalist, touching briefly on her childhood days in Wadsworth and the violent days she had lived through there.

He took her to see Hugh Hume, who had some years earlier begun to publish a slick-paper weekly tabloid in Portland called The Spectator. The paper's offices were in the old Chamber of Commerce building, which housed Wood's office. Hume, a nonconformist, also with an eye for beautiful women, was as impressed as his friend Wood was with her charm and her determination to break into a field dominated by men, and offered to help her. He promised to make room for her on the staff of The Spectator as soon as possible, but until an opening on the staff occurred, he suggested she find work in some other field not far from Portland. Wood said he would help her get a job teaching school.



It took time. The school term was well under way and it was not easy to find a school where she might be able to work full-time and then quit when The Spectator had an opening. Finally he located one that needed a teacher. It was on a small island on Puget Sound in the San Juan group, some two hundred miles from Portland. There classes did not start until early in March because some of the children had to row daily to school from small neighboring islands, and could do so only after the worst of the winter stormy weather ended.



"We were all at the dock waiting for the mail boat from Bellingham that was bringing the new teacher. When the boat arrived and got tied up we saw her come down the gangplank after the captain, and a deckhand, who was carrying her trunk on his shoulder. I was hanging onto my mother's skirts when I smelled it . . .I smelled perfume for the first time in my life."


Mrs. Clarence Irwin, now living in Bellingham, Washington, near the Canadian border, recalled the arrival of Louise Bryant on Stuart Island in March of 1909 to begin teaching her and some twenty other children. "We were all so surprised. Nobody on the island had ever seen anyone dressed so beautifully as she was, except maybe in the mail order catalogues. In one hand she had a handbag and the other was sticking out from a small muff and hanging onto an umbrella. What I remember best was that everybody was so surprised nobody said anything. I remember to this day that pleasant smell, which my mother later told me was perfume and that good girls and ladies didn't use perfume."


"So she walked up to the crowd waiting to see her and said: 'Well, isn't anybody going to say hello?' When nobody answered her, she said: 'Where are the Borchers?' That was us - I was holding on to my mother's skirt and I nearly tore it off, I was so excited."


It really was a tiny island, one of one hundred and sixty that make up the San Juan group. (Puget Sound was, countless centuries ago, a mighty mountainous valley until the Pacific Ocean crashed through the coastline and flooded it. Its many hundred of islands are, therefore, the tops and peaks of “drowned” mountains.) This island is only four miles long, and less than a mile wide. On a map, its shape resembles a large prehistoric bird in clumsy flight. It's location in Puget Sound is such that it became an ideal place for the United States government to build a lighthouse to guide ships from the Orient and elsewhere bound for points on the American and Canadian mainland. Mrs. Irwin's father -she was Leila Borchers, and only seven at that time - was the lighthouse keeper, and the island's most important citizen.


In addition to the Borchers family, with its four children, there were eight other families, as well as a dozen or so unmarried men who made a living catching salmon for shipment to canneries in Seattle and other cities on the mainland. There was a small, one-room schoolhouse, a stone's throw from the small bay where the mail boat docked, and where the children from other islands tied up their rowboats when they came to school.


Louise never forgot the months she spent on the island, living in the large house in back of the lighthouse with the Borchers family, listening to the mournful foghorn warning ships as they passed between the island and Vancouver Island all night long. Five days a week she walked the mile and a half to the schoolhouse with the four Borchers children, each carrying a lunch Callie Borchers, the mother, put up for them. The child-ren called her Miss Louise, and spent more time staring at her beautiful clothes than at their lessons, but it was the first time she was earning money, and she was happy as she waited for an opening on The Spectator in Portland.


Something else that made her time pass agreeably and which she often spoke of later, were three unmarried men, Finns, who made a living catching fish. Saturday mornings she dressed in old clothes and heavy boots they had provided for her and she joined them in their fish-cleaning shack to take care of the week's catch. She soon knew the difference between a King salmon, a Silver, a Humpback and a Sockeye. When the salmon weren't around, there were plenty giant rock cod and other bottom fish to clean. She enjoyed hearing the Finns laugh as she practiced wielding a huge knife and learned to open the belly of a fish with one wide sweeping slash of the knife. She often joined them when it came time to eat, and from them learned several ways to prepare fish for the table the way they did it in Finland. Louise got her chance to demonstrate her culinary expertise on John Reed with one of these simpler recipes, during their very first meeting in Portland, about six years later. Also, during her years with Reed, she was able to impress Portuguese fishermen in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and then revolutionary workers in Russia, by boasting of her fish-cleaning days, changing details slightly: The Finns shack on tiny Stuart Island became a large cannery in Seattle, and the Finns, fellow-cannery workers.


One day early in May of 1909, Louise and the children returned from school and she found Mr. Borchers had brought home a letter for Louise along with the rest of the mail from the mail boat. "When she finished reading it," Mrs. Irwin recalls, "Louise went wild with excitement." She began to sing and danced around each one of the children. Then she asked the mother Callie Borchers, to take over her teaching job for a week or so. She said she had been invited to Portland for a class reunion. On Monday, May 10, 1909, she collected the

first money she had ever earned - thirty dollars, and the next day left on the mail boat which had brought her to Stuart Island. Three weeks after that, the Borchers received a letter from her saying she had accepted a job on a newspaper in Portland, and asked them to send her trunk. And then, a few days before Christmas, they received a holiday greeting card: "Love to everybody. Tell my Finns I love them."


It was signed Louise Bryant Trullinger.




Portland was a magnificent city going through its biggest boon. It had a population of 207,000, compared to only 97,000 ten years earlier. Eastward was one of the country's spectacular roads through the Columbia River gorge, with its many spider thread waterfalls; and one hundred or so miles to the west was the Pacific Ocean. The Willamette River, emptying into the Columbia, cut the city in two, and Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams towered on the city's northern and eastern horizons.


It was a city of roses and grand estates, great wealth, shanties and incredible poverty. As John Small, the Telegram's city editor, had told her, it was a city of political corruption and a tough place to live for those protesting any change in the status quo. When Louise came there, the city was still rocking from one of the greatest scandals - uncovered only a few years earlier and known as the Oregon Land and Timber Frauds. At Portland's own little Bohemia, the city's radicals and nonconformists met to talk Freud, Marx, women's political rights and persecution of the Wobblies. Here, she again heard two familiar names - Eugene Debs and Big Bill Haywood. They had organized the revolutionary International workers of the World, or I.W.W., better known everywhere as the Wobblies, while she was still a student at the University of Nevada in 1905. Only a year before she arrived in Portland, the Wobblies split, the milder, more timid socialists breaking away, and leaving the revolutionary wing to Debs and Haywood. It was a signal for the federal Government, the timber barons and railroad tycoons in Oregon and Washington to crack down in earnest on radicals, without regard for dialectic distinctions.



For Louise, it was all new, wonderful and exciting. She had a job - a real one - on a real newspaper. To be sure, it was only a weekly, but it had an artistic flavor and an editorial policy which she was sure even Professor Howe would approve, perhaps grudgingly, but still approve. There was little body-type on the slick paper's front-page, only a full-page pastoral scene or a full-face picture of an Indian woman, or the expressive, wrinkled face of an old man in Rembrandt style. Also, Hugh Hume's editorials pleased her. He was a cautious liberal, who attacked the trusts, war supporters and those who exploited Oregon's natural resources without regard for the future. There were always bits in the paper about the injustice of depriving women of their political rights, and once in a while a carefully worded reproach for authorities using unlawful methods to suppress Wobblies and other dissenters.


She provided fine-line drawings of the latest in women's fashions, as well as borders for advertisements. She did not even mind, at least not at first, having to write items about Portland society, rewriting them from the daily papers, as was then the practice, and still is today in places where there are competing newspapers. She lived in hope that she would soon be able to get a job on one of the daily papers, and Fred Lockley, a Journal reporter, encouraged her to stay with The Spectator until something better came along. Small paper though it was, she loved to see her name in Portland city directories: "Louise Bryant, Society editor. The Spectator; (r) 415 Yamhill."


She rarely spoke to anyone about her family, but usually answered the letters she received from her mother In Sparks. Charles Erskine Scott Wood introduced her to Sara Bard Field, and they soon became close friends, confiding in each other constantly. (When Sara finally abandoned her husband and left Portland with Wood, the Reverend Ehrgott was so furious, he rented a hall and the Oregonian, which disliked Wood as much as the Reverend did, carried stories about the way he lashed out at the soldier, poet, statesman and lawyer, calling him a despoiler of everything that was sacred in America.)


Louise met Clarence Darrow, who came to Portland to lecture and consult with Wood about cases involving violation of civil liberties. The brilliant artist, Carl falters, and his wife, Helen, moved to Portland from the East at about that time, and their apartment and studio soon became meeting places for visiting intellectuals, many of whom Louise would meet again years later in New York, Paris, Moscow, Rome and London. Among these was Floyd Ramp, with whom she had studied and discussed history at Eugene and had acted in class plays. Ramp, who still lives in Eugene, remains proud of the title given him by the newspapers, as "the West Coast's Number One Bolshevik." In federal prison, as a war resister ten years later, he organized a "Louise Bryant Fan Club" among other war resisters, while she was appearing before Congressional Committees.


From east of the Cascades and a place in Washington State called Wenatchee, came a man who fascinated her as he talked about revolutionary means of achieving justice. He was Andrew Crossman, founder of a nursery which would eventually provide nearly all of the apple trees for the development of Washington State’s apple Industry. A wealthy man, a member of the Rotary Club and of the Catholic Church, he was one of a number of wealthy men she was to meet, who believed that justice for the masses was impossible under capitalism, and that there was no way to get rid of it, except by violent means.


On a warm July afternoon, when Louise had been in Portland about two months, a tall man with wire-rimmed glasses and wearing a white and gray checked sports coat with wide lapels, a white shirt and black bowtie, dropped into The Spectator office. When he removed his hat, he revealed a shock of black hair, and as he talked with Hugh Hume, he nervously chain-smoked cigarettes. When he left, Louise was curious, and asked Hugh Hume whom the man was.

"That," said Editor Hume, "is Paul Trullinger, our favorite Unitarian. He is a bachelor - you really ought to get to know him."


She did far better than that. She married him four months later.


Paul Trullinger seemed to be just the man who might convert Louise's childhood dreams to reality - to allow her to become a crusader for justice in the way she was sure her father, Hugh Mohan had been. It was this feeling which prompted her to sign the name her father had given her when she was born in San Francisco to their marriage license application.


She was nearing her twenty-fourth birthday on November 15, 1909, and Paul was twenty-nine, when they eloped to Oregon City, across the Willamette River, in Clackamas County. They got their license in the old brick building that was once the courthouse of the Oregon Territories. He signed the application, Paul R. Trullinger, and she; Anna Louise Mohan, for the first and only time in her life. She insisted on being married by an Episcopalian minister.



Paul was indeed important enough for her to marry. He was a member of one of Oregon's pioneer and respected families. They included men and women who came to Oregon as far back as 1846, some by covered wagon, undergoing hardships and attacks by hostile Indians in which several members perished. One drove a flock of sheep before him from Missouri to start Oregon's wool industry. An aunt married Governor Theodore Geer, the first native Oregonian to become the state's chief executive. All his ancestors were Unitarians with records of dedication to humane causes. Paul, himself, was a self-effacing liberal with a shy smile. He contributed to liberal causes, but was never very active in them. He was, despite his wealth, a dentist with offices in the Corbett Building, and before his marriage, lived, as did many of Portland's well-to-do bachelors, at the Oregon Yacht Club.


Paul's marriage to Louise scandalized Portland society. He was, as Hugh Hume had said, one of the city's most eligible bachelors, and newspaper people were never far from the lowest rung of the social ladder. The Spectator, with its liberal editorial policy and unique idea of having Rembrandt-type pictures

on the front page instead of news items, didn't add to its standing among upper class Portlanders when one of its employees married a Trullinger.


Paul was very much in love with Louise, and she was certain that his influence would help greatly in her drive for importance and greatness. She kept her studio apartment at 415 Yamhill, living with him at the Wheeldon Apartments for a while, then in a house on Burnside. In 1913, he bought land along the Willamette, some eight miles from downtown Portland, and had a beautiful two-story home built on it. In November of that year, on the fourth anniversary of their marriage, he had the home recorded in her name. "It's an anniversary gift for you, dear," he told her.



It didn't help. Nothing helped. Life with Paul Trullinger became duller, more boring. Nothing was happening with her ambitious plans, and by the time they reached their fifth anniversary, Louise was frustrated-and told Carl and Helen falters she felt cheated and trapped. She told them that she was sorry for Paul and sometimes let him make love to her, and afterwards felt cheapened and despised herself.


Her depression continued deepening, reaching its lowest point in early July of 1914 as events in Europe were racing toward the holocaust called World War One - triggered by the murder of the heir to the Austria-Hungary throne. (It was called the Great War until it became apparent there would be others, and an English photographer published a book of war pictures labeling them “Pictures of World War One.”)


Louise felt desperately alone, "vegetating in Portland," as she later told Reed, "While the greatest news stories in history were breaking everywhere."


And then came a chance for one more try at getting a job on a big daily newspaper. The Mazamas Mountain Climbing Club of Portland, still active and rated among the six or seven most important in the United States and Canada, was having one of its exclusive climbs. Paul, eager to help lessen her melancholia, suggested she join. She shook her head. She was in no mood to accompany Portland's elite on a climb, or anywhere else. But when she learned that among those who would be there was going to be Henry L. Pittock, the founder, owner and publisher of the Portland Oregonian, she quickly changed her mind.

Mount Hood has always been a mecca for mountain climbers, and is particularly attractive for that purpose in the summer. Covering more than a million acres, it has hot springs, glaciers, wilderness areas and numberless flower-smothered meadows. It is difficult to remain melancholy long on a hike or climb of Mount Hood.

Fred Lockley, the reporter for Oregonian's rival paper, the Journal, was there to cover the climb. When Louise died in 1956, he wrote of his recollections of Reed, whom he knew quite well, and Louise, and what happened on that particular climb.


"She was absolutely ravishing in her mountain climbing costume," said Lockley. Everyone noticed her, including Pittock. Lockley saw her approach the publisher during a rest period and begin to talk while the publisher just kept looking at her, saying very little. When the conversation ended, Mr. Pittock left her to join his group, and Louise began looking frantically about her in search of someone - it was for him.


She was excited and almost in tears when she reached him. When he had calmed her down he learned what had happened. She told him that she had introduced herself to Mr. Pittock and firmly demanded to know why he was running the kind of a paper where she couldn't even get by a copyboy to see the editor or him or anybody else to talk about getting a job. She said she got madder and madder as she talked. Suddenly, Mr. Pittock stunned her with, "I'll tell you what, dear. You write up this mountain climb of the Mazamas for the paper, and I'll see if you can write."


That's what panicked her, said Lockley. She had hoped she would get a job on a newspaper and start by writing small news items, and as she learned more and more about the business of writing for newspapers, she would begin the real climb toward becoming the kind of journalist her father was.


She knew nothing about mountain climbing, let alone to be able to write an important story involving the climb of Portland's elite members of the Mazamas. How do you start? What do you say?


"I did not dare tell this lovely woman, so eager to become a journalist that this was a favorite dodge of Pittock's to get articles written for his paper without paying for them." So he said to her:


"I'll tell you what we'll do. After I get through writing my own article for the Journal, we'll get together for some coffee, and then I'll write an article for you and you can put your name on it, and give it to Mr. Pittock."


Lockley did write a story for her. He described former mountain climbs in addition to this one by the Mazamas Club members. He even mentioned the names of famous guides the Club had employed, and finished it all off with a grand description of the wheat fields in eastern Oregon, which could be seen from the top of Mount Hood on a clear day.


The story, with Louise's by-line, appeared in the Oregonian, said Lockney in his column, Whether Pittock suspected Louise had not written it, he didn't know. But again, Louise never got past the copyboy when she tried to see him.


Even before she made this final attempt to get work on one of Portland's big dailies, most of their friends knew that Paul's marriage to Louise was in trouble, and that its collapse was not far off. It came in the fall of 1915, when John Reed came to Portland to visit his mother.





Calm he lies there,

In the brave armor he alone could wear,

With a proud shield by his side,

And a keen sword of wit. And with the tide

Mysterious-when the swift, exultant Spring

Thrills all this hillside with awakening,

Wildflowers will know and love him blossoming.

--Reed's tribute to his father.


John - everyone in Portland called him Jack - so worshipped his father, that after his death he beatified him and ascribed to him every saintly virtue a human could possibly possess. It was characteristic of him to exalt nearly everyone he loved and admired - his father's close friend, Lincoln Steffens, the great muckraker; his English instructor at Harvard, Charles Townsend Copeland; his classmate, Walter Lippmann; the editor and his associate on the old Masses magazine. Max Eastman; his great passion, Mabel Dodge; until he met Louise Bryant, Lenin, Trotsky, even Woodrow Wilson, until Wilson broke his pledge to keep America out of the war in Europe.


Actually, his father, Charles Jerome Reed, a native of New York, was a very modest man, and the reports of, among other things, the sensational part he played as a United States marshal in the highly-publicized Oregon Land and Timber Trials, appear to have been the result of the exalted place his son gave him in his writings during his lifetime.


His father is thus pictured as having thrown politicians out of his office when they came soliciting funds for other hack politicians seeking political office. His father, as United States marshal, is also supposed to have helped prosecute his own wealthy father-in-law during the trials; he was president of Portland's exclusive Arlington Club, and often regaled members of the club with humorous anecdotes. However, research failed to confirm any of this.


What research does reveal, is that his father was a bookkeeper for the Columbia Farm Implement Company in Portland, when the daughter of one of Oregon's wealthiest men. Henry Dodge Green, fell in love with him. It reveals also, that Charles Reed's greatest virtue all his life was his complete devotion and affection for his wife, Margaret, and their two sons, John and Harry.



The father's name began to turn up in newspapers after 1903, when Pres. Teddy Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior, Ethan A. Hitchcock, became suspicious of the way huge tracts of timberland were finding their way into private hands. He borrowed the Treasury Department's top detective, William J. Burns, and told him to start a secret investigation. After three years. Burns submitted his report to Secretary Hitchcock and President Roosevelt. They were stunned at the extent of the frauds and at the many important people in both the political and financial fields who were involved. Detective Burns urged the appointment of a special prosecutor. "Nobody in Portland can be trusted," he told them.


Named to that post was Francis J. Heney of San Francisco, who promptly informed the President: "It will also be necessary to transfer federal judges, remove United States attorneys as well as to appoint a new U.S. marshal before we can hope to get jurors we can trust." For U.S. marshal, Heney picked his old friend from San Francisco, Charles J. Reed. It was a natural choice, since Reed was, at that time, a jury commissioner, a relatively unimportant position in the administration of justice.


The individual named by Heney for the job of making certain that the trials were well publicized, was the great muckraker Lincoln Steffens, who had written a sensational book exposing municipal corruption in 1904 entitled, "The Shame of Our Cities." The Oregon trials promised to make municipal corruption look like a penny-ante game, and he accepted. Besides, he was a native of San Francisco and also knew the new U.S. Marshal, Charles Reed, when he lived there.



It was a sensational story that broke in the Portland papers as well as in all American newspapers in their Sunday editions. May 6, 1906. Involved was a veritable Who's Who in American banking, industry and politics. All were indicted in a gigantic scheme to cheat the federal government out of vast land and timber holdings in Oregon.


The scheme, though simple, had important ramifications, including an early awakening among Americans for the need to guard the nation's natural resources against ruthless exploitation by special interests.


It worked this way: Bankers and timber companies from throughout the country, induced people for a small compensation, to homestead on more than eight million acres of timber land in Oregon, with the understanding that after they obtained clear title from the government to the homesteaded land, they would turn it over to the banks and timber companies. The problem was that the government's requirements called for the homesteaders to live on the land for a certain length of time and make improvements. Then it became a matter of falsifying the records in the United States Land Office. This dragged into the net Congressmen, Land Office personnel and an amazing number of other important people.


Detective Burns - he later founded an agency which provided industry with strikebreakers, and played an important part in the early twenties in the federal government's campaign against radicals - became famous in this case for his unique investigative work. In one case, a United States senator attempted to avoid prosecution by falsifying his resignation from a legal firm of which he was a member, and which was deeply involved. Burns discovered that manufacture of the paper on which the resignation was written, did not start until after the date of the resignation.


Few people in Portland knew or had heard very much about Jack Reed before 1913. There were some who knew him when they were children, as playmates or classmates of both Jack and his brother Harry. There were also neighbors and some others who knew both because they were the sons of U.S. Marshal Reed.


Before 1913 ended, however, everybody in Portland - especially Louise - knew a great deal about Jack Reed. He had become a celebrity through the articles published in magazines and newspapers throughout the country, describing his days with Pancho Villa during the insurrection in Mexico. Reed's articles, reissued some years ago in a book entitled, "Insurgent Mexico," were so brilliantly descriptive, one saw bare-footed peasants as they fought and killed to be liberated from oppression, and at night, drank, sang and made love by roaring fires, often dying in contests for the affection of a woman. Louise's romantic nature was immediately captured, and she fell in love with the author, exactly the way her mother fell in love with Hugh Mohan, even before he approached her parents' picnic table at that Democratic rally in San Francisco. Two years before Louise Bryant actually met him; it was Jack Reed who was beside her in bed in her dreams, and not Paul Trullinger.


Both Jack and his brother Harry were born on Grandfather Green's place on Cedar Hill. Today it is a section of Portland, with narrow streets, corner drugstores, pizza parlors, medium-priced homes and apartments, inhabited mostly by blue-collar workers. But in 1887, when Jack was born, it was a magnificent estate with the city of Portland spread out below. In the distance, to the east and north, were some of the Pacific Northwest's major scenic attractions. Close together were Mount Hood, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens, the latter a scenic attraction that would erupt a century later and affect the lives of thousands in Washington and Oregon states.

Jack was born a year after his parents married, and Harry two years later. Both were baptized in the Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Portland. The estate was a fabulous fifteen acres of stables, green lawns, trees, rose bushes, even tame deer. Grandfather Green could well afford it. With his brother John, after whom Jack was named, they owned Portland's waterworks, the gas plant, the streetcar system, a smelter at Lake Oswego, south of the city, and downtown buildings and a great deal of other property.


When Grandfather Green died Grandmother Green began spending money as though she had barns full of it. There were always receptions and beautifully dressed people to make a big fuss over the boys. When Jack was nine and Harry seven, the parents decided to enroll the boys at the Portland Academy. They moved from Cedar Hill to an apartment in downtown Portland.


Away from the luxurious Green estate, Jack soon discovered the world was a tough place, especially when he met up with a gang of young Irish hoodlums on the way home from school. He and Harry fought back, but invariably they came home bruised and beaten, to be comforted by their mother. It was at this time that doctors discovered what was wrong with Jack physically - he had a kidney problem for which there was no known cure at that time. This problem was to become an element in the triangle involving Reed, O'Neill and Louise.


In 1904, when he was seventeen, his parents sent Jack to Morristown, New Jersey, to be enrolled in an exclusive school, which prepared boys for the best colleges in the United States. It was not until years later that Jack learned what sacrifices the parents had to make to provide him and his brother Harry with an education. From there he went to Harvard, where his talent for descriptive writing was sharpened and refined by Professor Copeland. "Copey" was a remarkable instructor with a talent for bringing to life, the characters created by the world's greatest writers, years ago. Reed dedicated his book, "Insurgent Mexico" to him, his admiration for "Copey" being almost equal to that he had for his father, until Reed plunged headlong into radicalism, when "Copey" repudiated him.


On the Harvard campus, Reed could have been described as a typical American from a respectable middle class family, with the best credentials for the right antecedents. He showed little interest in any of the many groups working for causes ranging from anarchists and communists to men organized in support of equal political rights for women. When Walter Lippmann, at that time a socialist, managed to drag him off to a socialist meeting, he came away and described Lippmann in a poem as a man,


Who builds a world, and leaves out all the fun,

Who dreams a pageant, gorgeous, infinite,

And then leaves all the color out of it,

Who wants to make the human race and me,

March to a geometric Q.E.D.


In his senior year, Jack achieved fame of a sort. He became the best cheerleader Harvard ever had. He was a one-man show at athletic events, bringing crowds to a high pitch of excitement by performing for them, making faces, yelling, screaming and getting everyone to demand action rhythmically from their teams.

A year or so before he left Harvard Lincoln Steffens paid him a visit. "Your father," Steffens told Jack, "asked me to keep an eye on you."


Jack Reed grinned: "Women, eh?"


"Well, not exactly," replied Steffens. Then he explained that Charles Reed had told him he thought his son had great possibilities as a poet and a writer, and would need a hand to help him find himself when he left Harvard. "When you're ready to go to work, come and see me," said Steffens.


Jack's radicalism began to surface in the spring of 1913, and was in full bloom by the end of April of 1914. It began at a weekly meeting of Greenwich Village intellectuals in the famous 23 Fifth Avenue Salon of Mabel Dodge, the wealthy angel of radical and artistic causes. The main speaker was Big Bill Haywood, whose harassed miners and their families, Louise Bryant helped to feed when they drifted into Wadsworth back in 1896. This time Big Bill was complaining bitterly about the lack of publicity for the plight of strikers at the silk mills in Patterson, New Jersey. It was then that Mabel Dodge offered to finance a pageant in Madison Square Garden, in which the strikers would be actors. John Reed, who hadn't yet met Mabel, offered to write the script, and go to Patterson to collect material for it. At Patterson, for the first time in his life, he found himself among people in desperate need, and saw the way police cooperated with employers to smash strikes in order to preserve profits. He, himself, was arrested and thrown in jail for seeking shelter from the rain with two score pickets under the awning of a company-owned building.


The Patterson strike and pageant also marked the start of a stormy love affair with Mabel Dodge - an affair that lasted until John Reed met Louise Bryant.


It was a passionate affair, she herself describing her first sex experience with him as being comparable to "an explosion of firecrackers inside of me." She never forgave Louise, and when she was shown pictures of a grief-stricken Louise at Reed's casket in Moscow in 1920, who sneered: "I'm sure she left as soon as the pictures were taken."


Then came his months in Mexico with Pancho Villa and his rebels, which gave him a view of life among impoverished people he never knew existed. He developed a genuine affection for the peasant-rebels, and their bare-footed officers, and his conviction grew that American financial interests played a most important part in their impoverishment and oppression. But the event that changed his life completely, and affected Louise Bryant tremendously, came near the end of April in 1914.


Upon Reed's return home from Mexico, Metropolitan Magazine, which had sent him to Mexico, almost immediately hustled him off to Colorado where a bitter strike had just ended disastrously, and which has become known as Ludlow Massacre.


It was again Big Bill Haywood's union, the Western Miners Federation, which was on strike at mines controlled by the Rockefellers at Ludlow. It had been under way for a long time and when the miners were finally driven from their company owned homes in Ludlow, they set up a tent colony on the out-skirts of town. One-night militiamen and company mine guards’ poured kerosene on the tents and set them on fire. Thirty-three men, women and children were shot and killed as they fled from the burning tents, and more than one hundred others wounded. Reed arrived in Ludlow five days after the massacre and saw the charred tents and new graves.


Later, when he returned from Europe where Metropolitan had sent him to cover the early stages of the war, Reed said that nothing he saw in Mexico and the battlefields in Europe affected him as deeply as did the wanton killing and wounding of unarmed men, women and children at Ludlow. The impact on him was so great and it affected him to such an extent, that he began to lose his talent for writing in the traditionally popular way, and his career as a top-paid journalist began its downhill slide.




Among Louise's notes for the book she planned to write about her years with Reed, is a paragraph, apparently intended for the book's opening chapter. "I think I must have been looking for Jack Reed all my life." She was on a Portland streetcar when she began reading the article by him about Pancho Villa and his rebels. "Suddenly I realized I was in love with the writer. I always wanted somebody who wouldn't care about the hour I fell asleep or when I got up - somebody who lived the life Jack Reed lived."


At the time she was reading the article she was still dividing her time between living with Paul Trullinger at their home on the Willamette River and her small studio at 415 Yamhill in downtown Portland. But by early November of 1915, when Reed came to Portland - his mother had threatened to kill herself over reports he had become a radical and was having trouble getting his articles sold for publication - Louise had left Paul, and was making her home in the Labbe Building where her friends, Carl and Helen Walters had their apartment. She still, however, retained her studio. She had also, by that time, learned a great deal about Reed, and her active imagination had been busy weaving a picture of life with him - days and days of being where history was being made, where nothing was dreary and dull, where she would be able to express herself, to love and live, to be constantly admired by exciting men and women.


When she telephoned his mother's house and he answered, she told him she was with The Spectator and wanted to interview him for an article. He hesitated, and then asked if its editor was still Hugh Hume. When she replied it was, he agreed to meet her in the lobby of the Multnomah Hotel, the next afternoon.


He was at the lowest point of his life at that time, and an interview by a woman he'd never heard of, for a weekly news- paper article, was about the last thing he needed or wanted. He had come to Portland to reassure his mother, and was deeply depressed. The war in Europe had been a dreadful experience. Metropolitan had sent him and his illustrator, Boardman Robinson, first to the Balkans, then to France, then to the Eastern Front and then to England. Everywhere he saw death and destruction for what, he had by that time become convinced, was a war among commercial nations for world markets. His most violent attacks were aimed at the British, and finally even Carl Hovey of Metropolitan, refused to print the attacks on the British, whom he had described as a nation of bloodsuckers, exploiting millions throughout the world to keep a handful of super-wealthy Britons living in luxury. But Hovey did continue to give him assignments to interview such personalities as Williams Jennings Bryan and Henry Ford.


His depression was aggravated by his having broken off his affair with Mabel Dodge, and while this had happened before, he was no longer sure it would be renewed. She was insanely jealous and hadn't wanted him to go to Mexico, to Colorado, to Europe, to Portland. Still he missed her fierce, desperate, hungry, clutching embraces. It was his mother, however, who worried him most right now, with her despair and threats of ending her life. To please her, he cancelled an address he had promised to make at a mass meeting of Portland Wobblies, and this added greatly to his depression.


The Multnomah, one of the finest hotels on the West Coast during the first three decades of this century, is now an office building, but it retains its architectural splendor. The Chamber of Commerce Building, where The Spectator had its offices, was a short distance away and Louise walked to the hotel at Fourth and Southwest Pine. She recognized Reed at once from the photographs of him in magazines and the Portland newspapers.


It was a strange interview. Reed, was in a huge leather chair, Louise facing him in another, and between them a long, low glass-topped table. When he rose to greet her, she saw that he was tall and broad-shouldered and that his hair was brown and parted in the middle. When he talked and became enthusiastic, the words came pouring as though they were tumbling over each other. It was not long before Reed seemed to be the one doing the interviewing, by asking the questions and Louise answering. Soon, she felt at ease with him and began telling him about her life in Portland. She showed him the clipping describing the Mazamas Mount Hood affair, as it was published in the Oregonian under her byline. He glanced at it and said he would read it later. (He did read it while still in Portland, and in boasting about her, stressed her journalistic achievements, which explains why she is described as a feature writer for Portland newspapers in biographies and elsewhere.) During the rest of their conversation, she remained vague and evasive about her life before she came to Portland, but told him about her days at Eugene, her meeting Charles Erskine Scott Wood, a Portlander Jack Reed greatly admired. Oh, yes, she was married, she said, but had separated from Paul Trullinger. He was a very understanding individual, said Louise, but life with him was dull and dreary.


Reed was sympathetic and said he knew Paul. Suddenly Reed's face lit up. He said: "Mother is expecting me home for supper. Let me call and say I'll not be home. I haven't seen Carl and Helen Walters since I arrived. Will you come with me to see them. You will like them."


"I know I will," said Louise, "I have been living with them since I separated from Paul."


"Great then," said Reed, "I'll call mother and we'll have something to eat on the way to Carl and Helen's."


By the time he returned, Louise knew that her entire life was about to take a definite change for the better. From now on nothing else would matter but Jack Reed.


She smiled radiantly at him, and quite sure of herself, said: "If you like seafood, let me suggest Finnish-style fish fillets. It so happens I have everything needed to prepare them in my studio on Yamhill. I should like to invite you to dinner, Sir."


He bowed gracefully, and said, "After you, madam.” It was an evening neither of them ever forgot. They stopped for a bottle of wine, and Louise suddenly remembered she really didn't have the ingredients for Finnish-style fish fillets. They were loaded with bags full of food and laughing like happy children when they arrived at the apartment.


Louise found a tiny apron and a skillet and began to describe the procedure for Finnish-style fillets in a college instructor's voice. Reed's laughter provided an obbligato. "Sprinkle fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in skillet. Spread onion slices over top of fillets. Pour milk over fillets. Cook in medium oven for thirty minutes."


Reed swore they were the best fish he'd ever eaten. He rose from his chair, put his arms around her to kiss her and say something funny, "I always reward beautiful cooks. . ." He didn't get a chance. Her own arms tightened around his neck, her face flushed, her lips roaming over his.


Neither Carl and Helen Walters, nor Reed's mother, nor anyone at The Spectator saw them for two days.


The morning Reed finally left, promising to return in the evening, Louise, preparing to leave for The Spectator, opened the door in response to a knock. The crippled old janitor was there with several letters. "I knocked on the door two times yesterday, but there was no answer." He surveyed her slyly. "That big guy is pretty special, isn't he, Rosy?" he asked, and left without waiting for her reply.


When they finally turned up at the home of Carl and Helen Walters for their belated visit, there was no doubt about it:


"Every word they spoke, their every move they made spelled L-O-V-E in upper case letters," Helen reported.


A month later, Jack wrote to Sally, the wife of Boardman Robinson, the artist who illustrated his articles:


Dear Sally:


This is to say, chiefly, that I have fallen in love again, and that I think I have found her at last. No surety about it, of course. She is two years younger than I am and is wild and brave and straight and graceful and lovely to look at. A lover of all adventure of spirit and mind, a realist with the most silver scorn of changelessness and fixity. Is married, has been so for six years, and never yet lied to her husband, who knows just what she thinks and where she stands. Louise has worked on a daily newspaper for five years, made a great success and quit it because she outgrew it and wanted better. And in this spiritual vacuum, this unfertilized soil she has grown - how, I can't imagine - into an artist, a rampant, joyous individualist, a poet, a revolutionary. She is writing plays - although her technique and her method of expression are yet crude; poetry that sings through a mass of inferior stuff she is discarding every day.


She is coming to New York to get a job, with me, I hope. But if she can't make it with me, then later, but not too much later.


I think she is the first person I ever loved without mental reservation - without private criticism I didn't dare to voice. Such a vivid personality that I don't feel anything at all ought to be changed.

And she isn't afraid of anything.

Yours, Jack

Reed continued to spend a great deal of time with Louise in her studio, and it soon became common knowledge that the late United States Marshal's son was in love with a married woman, the wife of Portland's Paul Trullinger. Jack tore himself away from her to spend Christmas with his mother at 715 Everett, and on the day after Christmas left for New York, with Louise's promise she would follow in four days.


The day after he left, Louise wrote the first of more than one thousand letters they were to write to each other during the slightly less than five years before he died. She addressed the letter: John Reed/ 43 Washington Square South/ New York, N.Y.


Very late Monday night

Dear Jack:


I don't know just where you are while I am writing this, but I know you are rushing away from me through the night; every moment a telegraph pole or a station or a lonely stretch of meadow marks another tally between us. I have a feeling there is a storm where you are and a window is open, and it will not be good for your cold. I am sorry because I want everything in the world to be nice for you. Now you will say I am being chivalrous again...You are really wrong, because chivalry is a disinterested courtesy and it is not altogether a disinterested feeling I have about you.


It is nice and warm in the room where I am writing. The sides of the little stove are all red. I think it is the only warm thing left in Portland. This evening when I came home, the streets were all slippery with ice and now the first light of day is coming through my window the world seems quite frozen. This is all as it should be - silly old town - it had your glowing presence here for weeks without appreciating it - now a capricious old winter has turned it to ice as soon as you are gone.


I cannot explain why I write this, and I don't even know if I will send it. I know I have to talk with you in my thoughts because the night is so empty without you. Wonderful man - I know there isn't another soul in the world so free and so exquisite and so strong. I salaam you as a marvelous creature, and give you all my love.


I am leaving Friday at ten o'clock and will be there Tuesday at three. I just couldn't arrange to leave Thursday.


Dear imitator of elephants and camels and giraffe kisses. I have just looked at my brand. It is quite black.


I can't write anymore. I want you too much - all of a sudden - dear. Goodnight,


She did not mail the letter at once. Only Sara Bard Field knew that Louise was having trouble deciding to leave Portland where she had lived for six years, most of the time as Paul Trullinger's wife. They had not been happy years. . .but New York was a new and uncertain world. "Go and spread your wings," advised Sara, and Louise dropped the letter with its two-cent stamp in the outside slot of Portland's Pioneer Post Office. She left Portland on the last day of 1915.


Carl and Helen Walters took her to the Union Station. To their great surprise, they found Paul waiting for them with a bunch of violets, her favorite flower. Louise tried to smile. When it came time for the train to pull out, Paul embraced her, and handed her the flowers. As the train began to pull out, he turned to them and said: "I just guess I was too dull for her."

"It was," said Helen Walters, "just like a scene from La Boheme."

Part Two