New York was enjoying mild weather on the first Tuesday in January of 1916, with the mercury in the mid-thirties, when Louise caught her first glimpse of the great city. The New York Times reported on that day, that six more ships had been sunk by German U-2 Boats; that President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Robert Lansing were watching developments in Europe closely; that Mme. Melba was singing Gilda in Verdi's "Rigoletto" at the Hippodrome, and Antonio Scotti was portraying Scarpia in Puccini's "Tosca" at the Met; that the cost of the war in Europe so far "defied comprehension and amazed the imagination," with five million killed and property destruction estimated at fifty-six million dollars; and that in Germany Kaiser Wilhelm was praying for peace and predicting an end to the war by Easter.


For Louise, however, the newspaper headlines meant little during those first days with Jack Reed. They were simply a part of the overall dazzling, dizzying, mind-jolting kaleidoscope that was New York. Only two months before, she was at the lowest point of her life, facing a bleak, desolate future, with her dreams and hopes of becoming a great crusading journalist oppressed by stark reality. During the dozen years that would follow, she would witness a mighty revolutionary upheaval in Russia, interview some of the most important world leaders, secretly marry a multi-millionaire American diplomat, giving birth to a child, and visit every important city in Europe.  But nothing would come close to equaling the excitement of those early wonder-filled days in New York as "Jack Reed's girl," and her nights with him in their cold water Greenwich Village flat.


New York was fascinating - even frightening.  0. Henry had called the city, "Baghdad-on-the-Subway;" Walt Whitman, once fired from his government job as a "dangerous radical," drew much of his inspiration for his "Leaves of Grass" from it; and Stephen Crane immortalized its conflicts in, "Maggie, a Girl of the Streets."   Poets, composers, painters, dancers - artists of every sort - had devoted their talents to describing the mighty city's wilderness of brick and steel, it tumultuous mass of humanity, its racy vernacular.  It was a great melting pot of peoples from all over the world - a city which Louise could never have imagined, and, as a matter of fact, she had not believed Jack Reed's stories about it during their time together in Portland.


There were more Irishmen in New York in 1916 than there were in Dublin, more Italians than there were in Rome, and more Jews than there had been in any city of the world since the Babylonian exile in the Eighth Century BC.  There were, in New York, more Germans, Chinese, Arabs, Poles, Englishmen, Hindus, Negroes - more of everybody from everywhere.  Each ethnic group had staked out a slum of its own, each reflecting its own culture and its own poverty.


What a place for her to spread her wings as Sara Bard field had advised her in Portland! She clung to Reed's arm, greedily taking everything in, as he guided her through crowds in and around the Grand Central Station, the Fulton Fish Market, the Bowery, Chinatown, Little Italy, Madison Square Garden.  (This was not the present Madison Square Garden – the graceful building that Louise Bryant first saw was destroyed by fire in 1925) There was Babel of languages - Spanish, Yiddish, Oriental, Italian, Slavonic and English that barely resembled the English that she knew.  And the people!  Derelicts from the Bowery, consumptive Jews with ear locks guarding their pushcarts, Chinese with pigtails, workers pouring out of sweatshops with bundles of pants and shirtwaists for their families to work on during the night....dope peddlers, prostitutes, murderers for hire, and children underfoot everywhere.


      It was all new, exciting and absorbing, and her enthusiastic reaction to everything she saw and heard pleased Reed. Not until she had been in New York a couple of months did she begin to feel troubled by things which recalled her childhood in Nevada with its hungry Piute Indians and bedraggled miners' fami-lies driven from Colorado to seek food and jobs in towns such as Wadsworth. It first came when Reed showed her the site near New York University, where only a few years earlier two hundred workers, mostly Jewish and Irish girls, perished when fire swept the sweatshop loft of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. It was then she recalled Jimmy Kolchak's "them sonafabitches bosses" -when Reed told her that the doors of the loft had been locked to make sure the girls did not leave their machines for the lavatories too often.


The Village is a roughly triangular piece of Manhattan, bounded on the north by Fourteenth Street, on the south by Spring, and running west from Broadway.  In the center is Washington Square, a rectangle of land that was home of some of New York's foremost families years ago - the Clintons, Van Cortlandts, Schuylers, Livingstons, Rhinelanders, Rensselaers.  But they began moving elsewhere as wave after wave of immigrants began invading that section of the city, and by the first decade of this century, most of the magnificent homes were rooming houses and apartment houses for the nation's early Bohemians.  The name plates of the famous families were still there on many of the homes in 1916 when Louise reached the Village, but by the end of World War One they were all gone.  The last of the homes, the Rhinelander place, went down before wrecking crews in 1950, to make way for a big apartment house.


Today's Greenwich Village remains a unique place, but its "raison d'etre" is different.  It is today, above everything else, a business community, which is not at all what made the Village the irresistible magnet for nonconformists in the first two decades of this century.  The Village has changed, because the   world has changed.  For one thing, nearly all the revolutionary things Louise joined in espousing, to the horror and indignation of preachers, editors, vice crusaders - to say nothing of parents - have become respectable and universally accepted.


      No woman need fear being indicted today, as was Margaret Sanger, the pioneer birth control crusader, for sending birth control information through the mails to women who had asked for it; and no woman need fear arrest, as did Louise Bryant and anarchist Emma Goldman, for distributing leaflets announcing a lecture by Margaret Sanger.


      Today, not even the worst enemy of unions would dare to openly support George F. Baer, the coal mining tycoon in Eugene Debs day, in his beliefs that God in His infinite wisdom wanted Christian gentlemen to decide what was good for their workers.


      The long hair, mustaches, sideburns and beards, which startled Louise when she first arrived in the Village, and then charmed her, are now common among actors, lawyers, lawmakers and even ministers.


      But the questioning of convention and morality which made Greenwich Village so famous, has turned up under various circumstances at various times - perhaps most notably in the wild abandonment of flaming youth in the roaring twenties, when moral values took a nosedive, and on American campuses in the fifties and sixties when young people fought for human rights and decided that wars were too important to be left in the hands of the politicians.



      John and Louise lived in an apartment on the third floor of a three-story brownstone building, numbered 45 Washington Square South, which was, however, better known as "Genius Row." This was because a few doors to the east was another brownstone building where some of the nation's great men and women of literature had lived at one time or another - Willa Gather, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, 0 Henry, Frank Norris and a score of others.  To the west of their apartment house was 53 Washington Square South, and on one of the apartment doors of that building was a sign: "Eugene O'Neill/Keep Out Dammit." (The entire area is now a part of the law school complex of New York University.) O'Neill was, however, rarely in his apartment.  Usually his rent wasn't paid and the landlady saw to it that he didn't get into the place until he paid up.  Besides, he preferred to spend his time, when he was not a member of a ship's crew somewhere, in a saloon at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Fourth Street called the Golden Swan. He could usually be found in a back room labeled "the Hell Hole," with a gang of Irish toughs who called themselves the Boston Dusters, and who admired Gene O'Neill because he was Irish, could drink more than any of them when they had money to buy that much whiskey, and he read his early poems to them - as well as to anyone else who was willing to listen.  (Among his eager audience was Dorothy Day of New York, co-founder of the American Catholic Workers movement.  Now past seventy-five, she recalls O’Neill’s mournful voice as he recited religious poem in the Hell Hole.  Then, very often, he would hand her a poem to keep for herself.)


      On the north side of the Square, where Fifth Avenue began, Louise never tired of admiring Washington Arch.  She knew, as did everyone in America who could read in 1906, of Stanford White,, the architect who designed the Arch and many other famous buildings, and the nationwide scandal which ensued when Harry   Kendall Thaw, a Pittsburgh millionaire who was insanely approached White's table at a theater restaurant, pulled out a gun and shot him.  It developed that the wife, the beautiful dancer Evelyn Nesbitt, had an affair with White before her marriage to him, which infuriated Thaw when he learned of it.  At the sensational trial, Evelyn, who was to have been the prosecution's star witness stunned everyone when she testified for her husband, with strong implications she had been bribed by his family.  Thaw was sentenced to eight years.



      Louise made their apartment attractive and comfortable with a heavy coat of battleship gray paint on the floor, covering the dingy walls with a good many of her own black and white drawings, and a few throw pillows here and there.  The place was skimpily furnished with a homemade table, chairs, a sofa and a huge old-fashioned bed left behind by the building's former wealthy owner.  The apartment was equipped with gas fixtures, but like most of those who lived on "Genius Row" they used the more romantic glow of candles for illumination.


      They were happy days, those early ones in Greenwich Village.  Reed would now and then plunge into deep depression, as the war reports from Europe grew more ominous.  On one occasion Reed returned to the apartment grim and depressed.  The New York World had sent him to Sing Sing to write up an electric chair execution.


       "It was dreadful," he told Louise, "it was inhuman, it was insane to see a man put to death so efficiently, indifferently and legally by men paid to do it."  In the very early days of their life together, Reed would get over incidents of that sort quickly.  But as time passed, Louise found it more and more distressing. On one occasion she complained to Arline, the wife of Bill Zorach, the sculptor for the United States Post Office Department in Washington, "Sometimes it's just plain hell. In his dreams he lives over again what he saw on the battlefields of Europe," in Mexico and Colorado."


      Reed showed her the building next door, 42 Washington Square South, where he had lived with two Harvard fellow-graduates when he first came to the Village in 1910.  (One of these was Alan Seeger, who wrote the prophetic poem, “I Have A Rendezvous With Death” before he was killed in the war in Europe.) He told her about Lincoln Steffens, whom she had not yet met and the way Steffens had rented an apartment on the floor below "to keep an eye on us," grinned Reed.  And then he read a part of the long, exuberant poem he had written in 1911 about Greenwich Village and the apartment at 42 Washington Square:


                   The gas isn't all that it should be,

                   It flickers - and yet I declare

                   There's pleasure or near it, for young men of spirit

                   At Forty-Two Washington Square.


                   In winter the water is frigid,

                   In summer the water is hot;

                   And we're forming a club for controlling the tub

                   For there's hardly one bath to the lot.


                   You shave in unlathering Croton,

                   If there's water at all, which is rare--

                   But life isn't bad for a talented lad

                   At Forty-Two Washington Square.


                   Nobody questions your morals

                   And nobody asks for the rent-

                   And there's no one to pry if you're tight, you and I,

                   Or demand how our evenings are spent.


                   The furniture's ancient but plenty,

                   The linen is spotless and fair,

                   0 life is a joy to a broth of a boy,

                   At Forty-Two Washington Square






      Back in the fifteenth century, a band of hungry, bedraggled gypsies from what is now Czechoslovakia managed to reach France. They were forced to pretend to be gay and carefree as they danced and sang in order to survive in Prance.  Their homeland, at that time, was called Bohemia, and they became known as Bohemians.  A-couple of centuries later, following the French revolution of 1350, artists and writers, finding themselves hard pressed to survive, began to seek an outlet for their frustration by romanticizing their lives.  A notable result was the opera "La 3oheme" by Puccini, based on a series of articles by Henri Murger, who had lived among the artists.


      In America, the first Bohemians were probably those young people among the colonists who whistled on the Sabbath and were placed in the stocks for their temerity.  The trouble with American Bohemians of the twentieth century was that they were gay and carefree for the wrong reason.  They were not interested in entertaining anyone.  They were rebels, nonconformists and protesters - John Reed's gay, carefree poem entitled, "A Day in Bohemia," notwithstanding.


      Greenwich Village was full of these rebels and protesters and nonconformists, and it was all made to order for Louise Bryant.  She was certain her father would have loved it.  It had everything, absolutely everything, including a radical Irish labor leader, Jim Larkin, who was on the "most wanted" lists of police both in this country and in the British Isles.


     Of all the unusual people she met in the Village in 1916 and 1917, none was more unusual than Max Eastman, editor of the radical magazine called "The Masses," which listed John Reed as its leading contributing editor.  She couldn't have been happier had George Bernard Shaw asked her to collaborate with him than she was when Eastman asked her to contribute articles and drawings to the magazine. (She did not know, of course, that Reed had asked Eastman to do just that.)


     "I was delighted to learn from Jack," said Eastman, with a straight face, "that you read The Masses while you lived on the West Coast and that among your friends are Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field, both of whom contribute to the magazine. We'd like you to join our unusual family circle of writers and artists."


     And an unusual family circle it really was, with Max Eastman himself by far the most interesting - his background, his education, his love affairs, his conversion to socialism, his years as editor of the radical Masses, and finally, his disillusionment and swing from the extreme left to an editor's chair on the conservative Reader's Digest.


      Both his parents were Congregational ministers.  At Mercesburg Academy and Williams College, he was described as a brilliant, almost fanatical student.  When he came to the attention of John Dewey, the man who gave progressive education in America its big push, Dewey invited him to lecture on logic at Columbia University.  But what Eastman wanted was - as he himself put it - to live life.  And that meant writing prose and poetry and dreaming and lovemaking - all of which spelled Greenwich Village.  In the Village he met and fell in love and finally married, Ida Rauh, daughter of a well-to-do New York family. She was studying law at the time she and Max Eastman met.


      Ida was a socialist, as were many other young men and women from wealthy families, who preferred to live in the Village rather than at home.  Eastman, writing about his days in Greenwich Village, provides what must surely be a tongue-in-cheek explanation for how he, himself, became a socialist.  One evening he and Ida were discussing the need for educational reform, with Ida insisting there was no hope for genuine reform under capitalism. "You think. Max," said Ida, "that the people who own the earth are going to give up any part of it, no matter for what purpose? Now Sari Marx's idea is that the working class, acting in its own interest, will take over the industries and socialize them. After that you will have a society without classes and real reform in education."


      "Why. Ida," exclaimed Max Forrester Eastman, Ph.D., "that's a perfectly wonderful idea."


      Of one thing, however, there isn't any doubt.  Until his disillusionment, Max Eastman's devotion to radicalism, even revolutionary change, made it clear he believed socialism was a "wonderful idea."



      Louise began to spend a great deal of her time in the combination bookstore and editorial office of The Masses on Greenwich Avenue near Bank Street. The magazine was cooperatively owned, its masthead proclaiming: "The final policy of this magazine is to do as it pleases and conciliate nobody, not even its readers." It had a nation-wide circulation of twenty thousand and its influence on American radicalism was such that the federal government finally had to employ incredibly shabby trickery to suppress it and indict Eastman and Reed, along with others connected with its publication.


      She met Floyd Dell, the magazine's associate editor, a socialist-poet from Iowa, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Edgar Alien Poe; Bobby Edwards, who strummed his home-made ukulele while making up rhymes which lambasted everybody, including The Masses and its editors; Harry Kemp, called "the unkempt poet," with a reputation as the best bed-hopper in the Village; Walter Lippmann, who remained close to Reed even while he was drifting away from socialism; Francis Biddle, a writer of prose and poetry, whom Franklin D. Roosevelt would name Attorney General, and who would also be involved in the secret proceedings by which Bullitt divorced Louise; Eugen Boissevain, who became wealthy as an importer, but remained a socialist and married Edna St. Vincent Milay.  (It was Boissevain who helped provide the money to send Reed to Russia for material to write “Ten Days That Shook the World)


      She also met many others as they drifted in and out of "The Masses" office - Emma Goldman and her lover and fellow-anarchist, Alexander "Sasha" Berkman; Paula Holladay, who ran the famous Polly's restaurant, and her cook and waiter, Hippolyte Havel, a Hungarian anarchist with thick glasses, who claimed the record for being in more jails in Europe and America than anyone in the Village.  Hippolyte startled her the first time she and Reed came to the restaurant to eat.  He slammed the dishes in front of them and snarled: "Eat bourgeois pigs, go ahead, eat."  Reed Invariably grinned and, as usual, greeted him with, "And how is our kitchen anarchist today?" and received the disdainful reply, "And how is America's best parlor socialist?"



      A major reason for the success of The Masses in bringing into the socialist fold more and more Americans, was the publication in each issue of significant cartoons and drawings.  Among the most effective of the cartoonists was Art Young, the one man always close to Louise, who grieved and remained loyal during her last years when she became an embarrassment and someone to avoid to most of her old friends.


      Art Young's cartoons were classics in political satire. One of his best, the original of which he gave Louise, was published at a time New York's City Hall was making headlines with charges of corruption, with Republicans and Democrats blaming each other.  Two skunks were shown behind a barn:


          FIRST SKUNK:  Have you contributed to the Skunk

                        Investigation fund yet?


         SECOND SKUNK:  No, not yet.  What are we skunks                                           investigating now?


    FIRST SKUNK:  We have to find out what makes such an awful

                  Smell around here.


The cartoonist and ukulele-strumming Bobby Edwards often enlivened matters for readers with bits of poetry in successive editions of the magazine.  Edwards might pose a question:


          They draw fat women for The Masses,

          Denuded, fat, ungainly lasses,

          How does that help the masses?


Art Young would reply:


    I shot a cartoon in the air;

          It fell - I know not where,

          But after all there's no regret,

          The idea may be going yet.


      Young's reply explained a unique system the magazine had devised to make sure what it had to say reached the people for whom it was intended.  Since many of those people often lacked even the dime the magazine cost and had to forage for food, often in garbage cans, it urged readers to wrap their garbage in old pages of The Masses.  Thus the needy could read and enjoy cartoons, and perhaps learn why it is that they had to forage for food in garbage cans.


      Louise's own early contributions were bits of poetry and the kind of illustrations she had provided at the University of Oregon for the campus magazine and for "The Spectator" in Portland. She was being coached by Reed, and was also writing a short play entitled "The Game," a one-act piece loaded with symbolism, in which Death and a pair of lovers debate life and death.





     When Reed prepared to enter Johns Hopkins Hospital in the fall for kidney surgery, with a doctor's warning that he might not survive, Louise accompanied him to Poughkeepsie, New York, and they were married.  (More about Reeds surgery in the chapter “Wheel of Pain.”)  When they returned home and confided to Art Young what they had done.  Art pretended he was horrified and said: "For the love of God, don't tell anybody around here about this terrible thing.  You'll never live it down."


     People in the Village, however, did get married and some even had children.  Even the unkempt poet, Harry Kemp, the champion bed-hopper, eventually succumbed and married Madonna-faced Mary Pyne.  And when Upton Sinclair's wife ran off with a younger and handsomer man, the great crusader for social justice acted just like any other furious husband.  He called upon high heaven to be witness to his vow that he would kill the malefactor if he caught up with him.


     By and large, however, sex was rarely the "raison d'etre" for getting married - "A primitive ritual to legalize what happens when people start going to bed together," the Village sophisticates called it.  Generally, therefore, the Village was a freewheeling place, insofar as sex relations were concerned.


     Two things made Greenwich Village what it was in sex matters. There was the spirit of rebelliousness that prompted young people to flock there.  They had begun to see little sense in the customs and traditions perpetuated by people who called themselves normal - customs and traditions which justified war and exploitation, while frowning on artistic expression that departed from the traditional - requiring dress that was anything but comfort-able, and above everything else, set up rules for sex expression which made sense only to believers in Holy Writ.  In the Village they were able to live with sex as a physical function that was as normal as other functions.  In many instances, though, it became a gesture of defiance aimed at anguished parents, preachers, newspaper editors and all others who thundered against promiscuity.


     The other was the enthusiastic way nonconformists reacted to Freud's theories in lectures he gave at Clark University in 1909.  They were generally misinterpreted, but came in handy as a rationale for those chafing under rigid definitions for the word "moral."


     The results were, as might have been expected, unique, to say the least.  Radical labor leader, Bill Haywood, for instance, had as his bed companion, a New York schoolteacher, who spent her days inculcating into her pupils a spirit of love for the flag and other capitalistic virtues, and her nights in bed with Haywood, getting assurance that the end of capitalism was not far off.


     There was some, but not too much, prostitution in the Village, and to put an end to this form of exploitation of women's bodies, a twenty-year old blonde, on record in a Village history by the Works Progress Administration the Roosevelt years, and identified only as Babs, began organizing girls willing to provide free sex to customers of prostitutes in the hope of thus forcing the prostitutes out of business.  Whether Babs' crusade to banish prostitution was a success is nowhere recorded in the WPA history.


     In this environment of freewheeling love and sex, Louise glowed and expanded as a lovely flower under a benign sun.  She felt secure and happy with Jack Reed, one of the most talented men in the Village, but was, at the same time, happily aware that the eyes of his close friends turned on her, and were not appraising her dispassionately.  She and Jack had made a compact in Portland that theirs would be a love that would crash through all the traditional barriers that inhibit true self-expression - they would love passionately without loss of individual integrity.  So Louise thrilled and smiled when Jack introduced her to his friends, and she did nothing whatever to engender the belief that she was off-limits to anyone but Jack Reed.



     Jack and Louise's first separation, a brief one, came less than two months after she joined him.  An assignment from Collier's magazine to interview William Jennings Bryan took him to Florida for a week.


     Bryan had helped bring about the nomination and election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson in 1912.  Wilson then named him Secretary of State.  But in 1915, when the Germans sank Britain's Lusitania off the Irish coast with a loss of two thousand lives, including one hundred and twenty-four Americans, he resigned, along with Dudley Field Malone, an assistant Secretary of State, when it became clear to them that Wilson was starting the country on the road toward an alliance with the British and inevitable involvement in the war in Europe.  (Malone, a radical Sinn Feiner of the Hugh Mohan type, told this author in Los Angeles in 1945, that Bryan believed the German charge that the Lusitania carried munitions for the British – a charge years later proven to have been correct – and, as the only neutral in Wilson’s cabinet, he had no choice but to resign.  Malone also said that he himself resigned because of his antipathy to the British for their cruel treatment of the Irish, and that Bryan, at his suggestion, had tried unsuccessfully to warn Wilson that Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, with a solid Irish constituency, would do his utmost to defeat Wilson’s plan for American membership in the League of Nations.  Ironically, Sinn Feiner Malone so closely resembled the despised Britisher Winston Churchill, that he was chosen to play the part of Churchill in the movie, “Mission to Moscow.”)    


      But now it was 1916, with another presidential election coming up in nine months and there were reports that Bryan might again support Wilson if he could get a pledge from him to keep the country away from War. Collier's knew that the man best qualified to handle the sort of interview it wanted with Bryan was John Reed.


      It would not be long before neither Collier's nor any other American magazine would print what has become accepted as the most credible account of the Russian Revolution - John Reed's "Ten Days That Shook the World."  But early in 1916, he was still one of America's most colorful journalists with a fascinating talent for descriptive writing.  And so, except for his violent anti-war views, including passionate attacks against the British, which none would have, he remained in demand when interesting and colorful articles were needed. A month after his assignment to interview Bryan, for instance, he was assigned to cover the Jess Willard-Frank Moran heavyweight championship fight in the old Madison Square Garden. For an illustrator he was given George Wesley Bellows, the artist who had at first shocked America with his realistic pictures of drunks and prizefighters, and then became famous with one of the greatest pictures of its kind, "Stag at Sharkey's." The fight, incidentally, one of the most bizarre, between Moran and Willard, a mediocre fighter who had knocked out Negro Jack Johnson in a battle with heavy racial overtones, ended in a no decision in ten rounds since Moran needed a knockout to take the championship from Willard.


       Bryan greeted Jack Reed warmly. He had talked with Reed before and had complimented him on his Insurgent Mexico articles. Bryan had been particularly Interested in them because in his campaign against Republican McKinley in 1900, he had made one of the issues, opposition to American imperialism and expansion, both of which, he insisted, were the basis for American involvement in the war with Spain. Yes, Bryan told Reed, it was true. He would support Wilson if he promised to keep America from becoming involved in the war in Europe.


       But brilliant and meticulous journalist Jack Reed was only half listening. He was making notes on what Bryan had to say, but his mind was elsewhere, on Louise.  In route to Florida to see Bryan on the Atlantic Coast Limited express, he had written her:


...Am trying to write this to the jiggling, of this train. Everything gets long, my little love, and I become more and more gloomy and mournful to think that I am not going to sleep all over you tonight in our scandalous and sinfully voluptuous bed. All my enthusiasm begins to run out of my toes when you get farther and farther away and I can't kiss you four or five hundred times. Old darling, what are you doing now? Goodnight sweet lover.





        With the nation clearly flexing its war muscles, and Reed's return from his interview of William Jennings Bryan, one of the country's leading pacifists, the number of people coming to their Washington Square apartment to discuss world developments with him increased dramatically.


      They came to talk with Reed, because not only did he talk with Bryan on this occasion, but he had, at one time or another, also talked with such powerful men in Congress as Senator William Borah of Idaho, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, "Colonel" Edward House, President Wilson's right-hand man, and, when he returned from Mexico after covering the Pancho Villa insurrection, President Wilson had asked him to come to the White House to talk with him.


      His report on his latest talk with Bryan was not an optimistic one. Yes, Woodrow Wilson would undoubtedly promise to keep America out of the war, and he would even fully intend to do so. "But," said Reed with a wry smile, "he can no more do that than a rock rolling down hill can decide to stop rolling."


      Louise sometimes found herself deeply moved as she listened to the long, often heated, discussions, usually dominated by a rapidly flowing stream of answers from Jack.  Memories of her childhood in San Francisco pushed their way to the surface, and she again heard her father and his friends arguing and debating.


      Usually, however, as both Art Young and Benjamin Gitlow, the American Communist leader - he later became a violent Russophobe - recalled, she would sit on a throw pillow in one of the alcoves, lost in her own thoughts and saying very little.


      One evening she noticed among those in the apartment, a dark, gaunt, tubercular-looking, shabbily-dressed man, who sat quietly and ill at ease while the others did the talking. This, she knew, must be Jack Reed's friend Eugene O'Neill, the writer, who was a heavy drinker.  Reed had told her that Gene had talent, and he was trying to help him get some of his stuff published. Publishers, however, were hard to convince that what he had written had much merit. Reed told her, "But I have great confidence in him...he is nothing short of brilliant, and one of these days you'll see Gene on the way to great success," predicted Reed.



      Lincoln Steffens dropped in on them one evening. He was a slight-built man, who reminded her of Professor Howe at the University of Oregon.  When she told Steffens that, he smiled and told her that he was from San Francisco, knew Professor Howe well, and was an admirer of his for having shaken up the state of Oregon as he did. Steffens was twenty years older than Reed and had always taken a great interest in bright young people. Louise liked him at once and soon found herself confiding in him as she had with Sara Bard Field.


      Outside of his father, there were only "two men whom Jack Reed admired, almost to a point of reverence. Steffens was one, and the other was his instructor in English at Harvard, Professor Copeland.  It should be recalled that Reed had dedicated his Insurgent Mexico to him.  But Copey turned on him when Reed became known as a revolutionist and issued a statement that, among other things, said:  "I grieve that the Bolsheviki got hold of him."


      Reed responded bitterly:  "To Copey, the only man who is red blooded is one who carries a rifle and kills when he is told to do so."  Steffens, however, retained Reed's love and admiration until his death.


       At the turn of the century there were three important muckrakers in America - Steffens, who wrote the best-seller, "The Shame of the Cities;" Upton Sinclair whose book "The Jungle" forced the packing industry to make Important improvements; and Ida Tarbell, who took on the Standard Oil Company.


       It was Teddy Roosevelt, himself an exposer of graft and corruption in high places, who named them muckrakers.  He was all for exposing those who needed exposing, but muckrakers, he insisted, did it for the wrong reason - they were doing it to write best sellers and make money.  He picked the word muckraker from a character in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" whose lot in life was to rake mud.  This character became so absorbed in muckraking he had no time to see anything except mud.


       Steffens kept his promise that he made to his friend, Marshal Charlie Reed, while in Portland helping in the muckraking that involved exposing those in the land and timber fraud cases, that he would keep an eye on the marshal's son, who was then in Harvard.  So when Reed and Walter Lippmann came to New York from Harvard with their diplomas, Steffens found a job for Lippmann on "Everybody's Magazine" and later secured a job for Reed with "The Metropolitan" when he was ready to go to work.



     Late one night, Reed brought home with him an Irish labor leader.  "This is Jim Larkin," said Reed, introducing him to Louise.  "He's on the lam.....he's been telling workers both in Ireland and here that they had better learn to use rifles before they go out on strike."


     Louise's interest grew as she listened to Reed and Larkin talk.  Then, when Larkin began talking about the latest developments in the Irish struggle to get rid of the British, she became excited, and began asking questions.  It was then that Reed, for the first time, learned something about her early life.


      "You know," she told a delighted Larkin and an astonished Jack Reed, "my father was a Feinian and even wanted to invade Canada.  And I have a brother, Lou Parnell, who is named after a great Irish leader."


     "I'll be damned," said Larkin, "that's Charles Stewart Parnell.  Then your father must have been a Protestant."


     "And I'll be double-damned," echoed Reed, as he got up, embraced and kissed her.


     They talked far into the night and Larkin left while it was still dark.  But from that night on she became more and more absorbed in Ireland, and it became one element in her affair with O'Neill, whose middle name was Gladstone, after the British statesman who, at least mildly, favored Irish independence.  It was Larkin's inspiration that prompted her to write the tribute to Sir Roger Casement, an article about the abortive 1916 Easter Day revolt and Sir Roger's execution for seeking help from the Germans for what was to have been an uprising in Ireland while the British were busy on the battlefields-in Europe.


     "I would like to die at sixty, or sixty-five, as he did," wrote Louise, "for something worthwhile in a mad moment of history."  The article itself she had entitled - "A Poet's Revolution":


Then suddenly came the splendid revolt of the Irish - a revolt led by poets and scholars. Fighting with the fervor of a saint, with a copy of Sophocles in one hand and a rifle in the other, a revolt that actually lasted but a few hours and was doomed from the start to defeat, yet one which won the greatest victory of the whole bloody war.  One proof of this is the wave of indignation that was swept the usually cold and prejudiced American newspapers.  They have discovered with great surprise that England would have shot every one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence if she could have laid hands on them.  Horrified editors have announced that Sir Roger Casement did no more in going for assistance to Germany than Benjamin Franklin did in going to France during our own Revolution.


The Irish Revolution was the natural outcome of the Irish Labor Movement led by Jim Larkin. . . Larkinism was purely an economic revolution closely akin to syndicalism . . .It raised the workers from hopeless slavery to a realization of their manhood.


The Gaelic League, in reviving art in Ireland, also revived the ancient legends of Irish freedom and a longing for liberty.  The Irish people never have been offered the right to govern themselves.  Even the Home Rule Bill (the measure William Ewart Gladstone tried unsuccessfully to get through Parliament) merely provided for an Irish administration which was not more than a subcommittee of Westminster.  To quote an Irish witticism:  "Compared with nothing, it was something, but compared with something, the Home Rule Bill was nothing."





       At the tip of the Massachusetts Peninsula, which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and curves inward to enclose Cape Cod Bay, is Provincetown. The peninsula is today, and has been for many years, a great place to spend the summer. Provincetown, itself, can boast that in addition to its scenic attractions, it is the spot where the Pilgrim Fathers first landed to wash off the salt before going on to Plymouth. Provincetown also makes a great to-do about having been a great whaling center before the whalers discovered Boston had better and more convenient facilities.


       The place is loaded with maritime atmosphere of Colonial days, even to a town crier, and for those interested in culture, Provincetown boosters submit the historical fact that it was here the famous Provincetown Players were organized and began producing modern American plays, and that it was here that first-nighters in 1916, for the first time anywhere, saw "Bound East for Cardiff," which started the author, Eugene O'Neill, on his way to greatness at last.  (For movie fans it may be noted that Eugene O’Neill was the father of Dona O’Neill, Charlie Chaplin’s child bride.)


From 1910 until the end of the First World War, Province-town was the summer home of all Greenwich Villagers who could afford it. George Cram Cook and his wife, Susan Glaspell, the "discoverers" of O'Neill, had a cottage there that faced the Atlantic Ocean.  Hutchins Hapgood, who wrote a column for the New York Globe, and Neith Boyce, whom the Globe had assigned to edit his copy, which she did so well that he married her, had a cabin a short distance from the Cook-Glaspell place.  Max Eastman and Ida Rauh were there, as were Harry Kemp and his bride, Mary Pyne.  Among the many others there, were Mary Heaton Vorse and her second husband, Joe O'Brien.  They not only had a home there, but also were owners of one of the more than sixty old abandoned fishing wharves, which Mary's first husband had bought for fifty dollars and left her when he died.



     The idea for a revolutionary new American theater was born in the mind of George Cram Cook, whom everyone called Jig or Jig Cook.  What Jig had been yearning to do was recreate Athenian art and philosophy.  He didn't realize his dream, but he did change the course of American theater history.  His wife, Susan, a delicate, sad-eyed writer from Iowa – (her “Allison House” won a Pulitzer award in 1930) - loved the theater as much as Jig did. But both were convinced that there was little, if anything, about the American theater at that time that was either stimulating or inspiring.  The available plays made no demands on the minds of audiences.  One was tired when the curtain went up and more tired than ever when it came down.  There were no plays that dealt with American life as it really was, because there was no American writer who could portray it, or had even thought of portraying it - at least none that either Jig or Susan had ever heard of.


In 1915, they decided to try writing their own original plays about America and produce them with whatever acting talent   came along.  Indeed, they wanted to avoid professional actors, and urged their friends to try writing plays as they themselves were doing.


The first performance, with a handful of summer residents for an audience, was staged in the front room of the Hutchins Hapgood cottage.  It consisted of two short plays.  The first a one-act piece written by Jig and Susan, was called "Suppressed Desire;" a satire on Sigmund Freud’s theories. When the play was over, the members of the audience were asked to turn their chairs around, and they found themselves facing the porch and the Atlantic for the second play.  This one was a comedy by Neith Boyce based on Jack Reed's stormy love affair with Mabel Dodge.  It was called, as might have been expected, "Constancy."


       So pleased was everyone with the success of their 1915 experiment, they immediately began to make plans for a full season in 1916, this time to be staged on the abandoned Mary Heaton Vorse pier at the end of which was an old fish house.  They named the fish house "The Wharf Theater."


       Jack and Louise arrived in Provincetown early in May, a little more than four months after she had joined him in New York, to help get the new theatrical season under way.  She had with her, the one-act play she had written, "The Game."  They rented a two-story, white clapboard cottage facing the ocean on Commercial, Provincetown's main street.  Louise found a wilted geranium in a flowerpot in their upstairs bedroom window and began nursing it slowly back to health.  A short distance from their summer home was that of Max Eastman and Ida Rauh, and some twenty-five yards to the south, on the same lot with Reed's cottage, was an empty shack with a "For Rent" sign on the door.


      It was not long before their cottage became what their Washington Square apartment had been - a place for friends and certain strangers, to drop in and talk and eat and drink.  Their cottage became even more popular when Hippolyte Havel, Reed's kitchen anarchist, moved in without being invited, and to Louise's pleasant surprise, took over the chore of cooking and keeping the place orderly.


      Near the end of May, Louise received two letters that had been forwarded from New York - one from her mother in Nevada, the other from Paul Trullinger in Portland.  Her mother chided her mildly for writing so infrequently and informed her that Floyd, who had been awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Christ's College at Oxford in England, was joining a British ambulance unit for service in Europe, and that Bill, after a year at the University of Nevada, had given up.  She and Sheridan were both well, but Sheridan worried a lot over what was going to happen because of the war.


      Paul pleaded again for her to return to Portland, offering to devote the rest of his life to making her happy.  She said nothing to Jack about either letter, and put off to another day replying to her mother's letter. In the end, she did nothing.


       (When Louise failed to answer his letter, Paul finally gave up hope and on July 7th, six months after she left, he turned up in the Multnomah County courthouse in Portland to seek a divorce.  The divorce papers show he had added in longhand, at the last moment before filing them, after the charge of desertion, the words, “because she has become interested in another man.”  The judge ordered Louise’s name removed from the title to the home Paul had built for her and had presented to her on their fourth wedding anniversary.)



STRANGE INTERLUDE:  "A short entertainment between the acts of a play."



        One afternoon Jig and Susan were walking along Commercial Street when they found,' without realizing it at the time, what they had been looking for; someone who could write realistically about American life - Eugene O'Neill had turned up in Provincetown with his ubiquitous friend. Terry Carlin.  Terry was alone, trying to find the Reed cottage to borrow, he admitted, ten dollars from Jack.


       He and O'Neill left New York after one of their periodic drinking sprees, and when they got to Provincetown they succeeded in talking John Francis, the owner of the general store and post office, to let them live for a while in one of the several apartments above the store.  They would pay him when O'Neill's allowance from his father came through.


       Terry was nearly thirty years older than O’Neill.  Like Jig and Susan, he was a philosophical anarchist, that is, he believed in the theory that people could be taught to live without laws and enforcers of laws.  But to bring about that sort of a Utopia required the sort of an effort Terry was not willing to make.  Indeed, when some twenty years earlier, he graduated from mild socialism to anarchism, he took a vow never to work, and this vow he kept religiously.  When Jig now asked him what he was doing in Provincetown, besides looking for Reed to borrow ten dollars, Terry said he and Eugene had come to Provincetown because it was a summer resort - and this was summer, wasn't it?  Then he launched into a eulogy of O'Neill, the son of the famous actor James O'Neill, known to everyone in the country for the thousands of times he had stirred theater audiences with his exultant cry, "the world is mine," in "Monte Cristo."  Jig and Susan knew all about James O'Neill, but they had never heard of either Eugene or his brother Jamie, each of whom seemed determined to outdo the other in drinking and general dissipation.


     "Terry," said Susan finally, "don't you have a play in your pocket, or somewhere, we might be interested in?"


     Terry Carlin looked pained and indignant:  "Now, Susan, it's well known that I don't work and I don't write.  I am a thinker, a philosopher - I inspire others."


     Jig smiled:  "Well, Terry, have you inspired anyone lately to write a play that we might be interested in?"


     "Gene," said Terry Carlin, still slightly miffed, "has written a trunk full of plays."


     "Very well," said Jig, "bring him over to our cottage tonight at eight.  And Terry, never mind the trunk full.  Just one play will do."



     Everyone was at Jig and Susan's cottage that evening when Terry Carlin and Eugene O'Neill turned up.  Louise saw him again, as she had seen him a month earlier in the Washington Square apartment, dark, silent, brooding and uneasy.  He offered Jig the manuscript for "Bound East for Cardiff."  Asked to read, he refused "and left the room.  Frederick Burt, the only professional with The Players, began to read.


        It was a sensation.  Jack Reed glowed with pride and pleasure.  Of course, there was no money in it for Gene, but this was the man in whom he had so much faith.  His friend, Eugene O'Neill, was going to have one of his plays produced at last.  He was on the way to great things, Jack Reed was sure of it.


As she listened, Louise found her disdain for this man's unusual appearance dissolve, and her image of him changed.  He became a romantic figure.  Then her curiosity and imagination began to take over.  Here was a man who was always drunk and frequently hungry, and yet he had written down words in a play   that was able to make them all feel they were aboard a ship in a raging storm, and actually experience the agony of a dying sailor, When everyone crowded about him to offer congratulations, Louise found herself suddenly lost in thought - overwhelmed by these new images - and asked Reed to take her home.  He looked curiously at her and they left.


        The "For Rent" sign vanished from the empty shack near the Reed cottage, and in its place a new one appeared.  Again it said: "Eugene O'Neill/Keep Out Dammit."  Rehearsals started for "Bound East for Cardiff."  On the program for opening night was also Louise's "The Game," with Jack Reed cast in the role of Death.


O'Neill was on Louise's mind a great deal.  How was it that this shabbily dressed man, who drank so heavily, was able to write such a deeply moving play?  Heavy drinking had killed her father, and he too, was a writer and an Irish rebel.  Was O'Neill's fate tied in some way to the tragedy that ended her father's life? She became absorbed with this man and subtly began to try to attract his attention.  During rehearsals she would sometimes feel his eyes lingering on her, but when she would return his gaze, he would quickly turn his eyes away from her in embarrassment.  This delighted Louise and only encouraged her flirtatious overtures.


     Few had known O'Neill before he turned up in Provincetown, but it soon became obvious to everyone - everyone that is, except Jack Reed – that something was happening between O'Neill and Louise.  O'Neill was thrown into conflict.  He was attracted by this dark-eyed girl, but felt she was mocking him.  He hated himself for being tempted and hated her for making him feel this way.  After all, Jack Reed was his best friend; he had always had faith in him, helped him and had loaned him money.  He did his best to deny these feelings that Louise was creating, but despite his best resolve, found them harder and harder to ignore.


     He finally got up enough courage to visit the Reed cottage on the pretext that he wanted to talk with Jack about events in Europe.  Terry Carlin came along to argue with Hippolyte Havel.  Louise listened to Reed and O'Neill talk, saying very little, but making sure O'Neill felt her presence.  As O'Neill prepared to leave, she went to a bookshelf and returned with a thin volume of poetry.  "I thought you might enjoy reading these, "she said, handing the volume to O'Neill.


       Back in his own shack, he found a note in the book: "What do those glances mean. Dark Eyes?"  It increased his yearning for her, but also his despair.  "She is making fun of me," thought O'Neill.


       But Louise wasn't making fun of him.  She began to engineer moments alone, and little by little their involvement began to develop.


       From her living room window she could see the narrow trail from O'Neill's shack to the edge of the Atlantic.  He was a spectacular swimmer.  She would see him come out of the shack and gaze at the sea a long time.  Then he moved swiftly toward the water and, plunging in, would begin swimming with slow, long strokes until he was almost out of sight.  One day he was out of sight for such a long time that she became alarmed.  She ran toward the water, but O'Neill had by this time started to swim back.  When he reached shore, he sat down beside her in the sand. She placed her hand boldly on his wet shoulder.  Her fingernails pressed into his flesh:


      "I was afraid something happened.  You were gone such a long time."


      That night O'Neill told Terry Carlin:  "When her fingers touched me it was like a prairie fire racing through my body."


      Louise fanned the flames with a poem in The Masses:


      Ah me!

      When sun and wind

      And the water....caress you

      How can I who am flesh, withhold

      My love?



      And silent as

      Midnight....are the grey hours

      When I cannot touch you or hear

      Your voice.


      O thou

      Bright field that laughs

      Because yellow daisies

      Bloom on your breast... Why am I then



      Early in June, Reed left Provincetown for three weeks with assignments for Metropolitan Magazine. He was sent to Chicago to cover the Republican National Convention, where Charles Evans Hughes was nominated for the presidency and to St. Louis the following week when the Democrats nominated 'Woodrow Wilson for a second term. He wrote or wired Louise daily, sometimes twice a day. When he wrote it was always in longhand, because Louise insisted that reading handwritten letters gave her a sense of intimacy typed letters could never provide. "Imagine Shakespeare pecking away at lovely sonnets on a typewriter," she had told him.


      "In an hour will be in Chicago," he wired her on June 7. "Hope my old darling is feeling all right and having a happy time. Love to Hippolyte...Jack."


      Louise was having a happy time. She replied with a letter and a snapshot, which showed her lying among the Provincetown dunes completely nude. There was also a poem:


          The wind is crying over the dunes

          and waving the sweet marsh flowers

          And this is the rune

          Of the wind's strange tune

          As it sings through the long, grey hours:


          Oh, the world goes round

          And the ages pass

          But beauty is lost forever

          For the night, alas

          And the day, alas!

          Can never come together


          The wind is crying over the dunes

          And weeping along the way

          And this is the plight

          That it cries to the night

          And moans in the quiet days:


          O, all is lost

          And hope is dead

          And the course of love is run

          For the moon, alas

          Dear moon, alas!

          Can never behold the sun




      As the Democratic convention drew near its end he wired her that he had been assigned to interview Henry Ford in Detroit and would be delayed a week.  (Ford had been making big news with his plans to organize a Peace Ship that would go to Europe and try to end the war.  Among those aboard Ford’s Peace Ship, which, incidentally, failed in its attempt to end the war and became material for vaudeville comedians, was William C. Bullitt, who had not yet joined the Wilson administration, and had agreed to cover the Ford trip for the Philadelphia Public Ledger.) 


       From Detroit Reed wired Louise an explanation for the delay in returning to her from St. Louis, and added: "Have been thinking about you and the dunes all the time."



       It was a bizarre triangle. Despite her deepening involvement with O'Neill, Louise was disappointed by the week's delay in Reed's return.  She wrote, addressing her letter to Detroit:


Dearest:  I went to town with a song in my heart because I thought you were coming home.  I went to get flowers so that it would be gay for you. I got marigolds and corn flowers and on the way back I picked buttercups in the field....I am sorry now that I sent that awful poem.  I wrote some real ones afterwards.  Lucy Huffaker and Eddie Goodman came down yesterday with suitcase full of booze.  They have made everyone drunk by this time. Hippolyte is just able to fry fish tonight for dinner, but by tomorrow he will not be able to tell a fish from a brown-tailed moth.  Please hurry home.  All my love.....


      As for O'Neill, he was in agony.  He must keep clear of her, he decided.  He sent off a letter to Beatrice Ashe, an old sweetheart in New London, Connecticut, inviting her to Provincetown for the summer, hoping that with Beatrice around he would be able to break off with Louise.  But Beatrice, suspecting that there was another reason for his renewed interest in her and his desire to have her come to Provincetown, would have none of this.  She replied with a firm no, even though 0'Net 11 had assured her that everything would be perfectly proper; she would be able to live with the Reeds or any of several other married couples.


Wharf Theater preparations for opening night of the new season were in full swing when Reed returned to Provincetown on June 22, and the event was a spectacular success.  The old fish-house at the end of the wharf had been converted into a theater and everything was perfect for "Bound East for Cardiff."  Cape Cod Bay and the rickety pier provided the sort of atmosphere for the play it has never had since in the hundreds of times it has been produced.  Stephen Rathbun, the New York Evening Sun critic, who was there for the opening night, predicted that Eugene O’Neill would rate top place among American playwrights for having launched a new form of realism in the American theater.  He also had a few words for Louise Bryant's one-act play on the same bill.  They were:  "The less said about Miss Bryant and 'The Game,' the better."



      To the distress of Jig and Susan and other close friends of Jack Reed, Louise continued to be seen with O’Neill more and more often.  She would wait for him until he finished his daily swim, and then they would sit in the sand and talk.  Only Jack seemed to see nothing unusual about the woman he loved so passionately being seen constantly with his close friend, Eugene O’Neill.


      Reed, in fact, encouraged Louise to star with O’Neill in the first and only production of his bizarre one act play, "Thirst."  Although O'Neill, cast as a Negro sailor, did not have a great many lines in the play, he was on stage during the full performance, and it certainly was more of a role than he had in the only other two plays that he appeared in out of the many, many plays that he wrote.


      In "Bound East for Cardiff," he had only one line to speak, "Isn't this your watch on deck, Driscoll?" ' And in his one-act play, "Before Breakfast," he said nothing at all, being cast in the role of a writer with a bitchy wife who keeps nagging at him while he is shaving behind a screen, until he finally cuts his throat.  Although "Thirst," being one of O'Neill's earliest, if not most notable attempts at irony, was far from romantic and the ending was far from happy, it did allow Louise and O’Neill a lot of time together in rehearsal, and Louise, now' convinced that O’Neill was in love with her, even though they both steered clear of the subject, began to plan his seduction, knowing that his friendship with Reed would never permit him to act on his feelings, and take the initiative.


       Thus, the next time they met on the beach, O’Neill found himself with a pensive Louise sitting beside him in the sand. He gazed uneasily at her; she had never before been so quiet. Something must have happened.


      "Jack?" he asked, "Has Jack said anything about us? - I mean has he said anything about us being seen together so much?


      It was the opening she was hoping for.  She grabbed his arm.  "Gene, Gene, how can I tell you this?  No, he hasn't said anything about us.  Don't you know there isn't anything between Jack and me?  There can't be.  We have been living as brother and sister.  Hasn't he told you about his kidney problem?  It has been all so horrible for me to have to live unfulfilled - but he needs me.  He has told me he will die without me...and yet..."


      Then to O'Neill's amazement, she broke into tears:  "I can't go on without fulfillment and I can't leave him.  He will kill himself, destroy himself.  Oh, Gene, Gene, tell me what I can do."


      Had O'Neill not been so desperately in love with her, and blinded by his passion, had he been able to think at all, he would have known what everyone else knew - Reed's wild love affair with Mabel Dodge and his affairs with numerous other women before Louise came along, none of whom apparently had complained to anyone about having been left unfulfilled.  He heard only her sobbing and only her cry that she was unfulfilled.


      Of course, neither of them could know at that time, that they were laying the basis for a play, which would, eleven years later, win O’Neill one of his numerous awards.  In "Strange Interlude" O'Neill has a man agreeing to become the lover of his close friend's wife when she pleads with him that only by providing her husband with a healthy child can he be saved from insanity.  The friend struggles with himself, will he be betraying the husband?  No!  It will save him and also save his wife. And if he himself gains happiness from the lovemaking, will the husband be any the poorer for it?  No, of course not.  Will he become less of a friend of the husband....


      Thus the relationship between Louise, Jack and O'Neill set the basis for the tangled involvements found in O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize winning play, "Strange Interlude."





They were the happiest days of her life, those first months in Greenwich Village in 1916 with John Reed in their coldwater flat on South Washington Square.  The Village, before World War One, was home for men and women “respectable” people shunned – artists, rebels, dancers, musicians, poets, writers, nonconformists – many of whose names, however, now appear on America’s cultural and political rolls of honor.  It was no place for timid vacillating souls.  When Louise and Reed went off and got married, Art Young, the Herblock cartoonist of that era, warned them:  “Don’t for the love of God, tell anybody what you have done.  You’ll never live it down.”






And here is Agnes Boulton, whom Eugene O’Neill married when Louise left with Reed for Russia.  Agnes resembled Louise so closely friends thought Louise had returned from Russia to be with O’Neill.  As a matter of fact, when Louise, in Russia, learned that someone resembling her had replaced her in O’Neill’s affections, she forgot she had abandoned him, and did return on the pretext she wanted to lecture in America about Russia.  She was furious when her attempts to regain O’Neill failed.  Agnes discusses all this in her own book about her years with O’Neill.   Agnes bore O’Neill a daughter, Oona, who married the comedian Charlie Chaplin.






















Swish-swish flash by the spokes of

the Wheel of Pain:

Dizzily runs the whining rim.

Why in the cool dark is slow-evolving


But I hang heavily writhing in

hot chains

High in the crimson stillness of my


And the swish-swish of the Wheel of



--John Reed on "Coming Out of Ether"


     All returned to Greenwich Village when the Provincetown season ended early in September.  Nineteen plays had been produced, six of them O'Neill's.  The newspaper critics praised all of them and predicted a great future for O'Neill and American theater.  Jig Cook had been writing a play in which Louise had agreed to be carried onto the stage nude, but for reasons never made quite clear, it never made it onto any stage.  Jack and Louise returned to their apartment at 43 Washington Square South, and O'Neill to his a few doors away.


O'Neill began dividing his time between the Hell Hole and McDougal, where, a short distance south of West Fourth, a stable that had once been part of a huge estate, was being converted into the theater that became known as the Playwright's Theater.  For opening night, Jack painted a sign:  "Here Pegasus Was Hitched," Pegasus being the horse in Greek mythology who, among other things, helped launch poets on their poetic flights of fancy.


      Opening night at the Playwright's Theater in Greenwich Village was the real start for O'Neill's great career. His "Bound East for Cardiff," was again produced, as was Louise's "The Game," along with a short play by Floyd Dell, "King Arthur's Socks."  "The Game” was produced one more time and never anywhere again.


      (It was produced while she was in Paris in May of 1917 on her first assignment as a foreign correspondent.  In Paris, she received a letter from Edwin McDaw of Philadelphia thanking her for letting the Red Cross produce it.  It brought the Red Cross on thousand dollars, Mr. McDaw wrote, and added: “You would have loved it.  It was a great success.”)


      She became absorbed in writing articles and providing drawings for The Masses, at the same time working on a new one-act play for the Playwright's Theater. Reed made a quick trip to Portland for a visit with his mother, seeing no one else while he was there. Louise saw a good deal of O'Neill while he was away. Then, when Reed returned to New York, his kidney ailment suddenly flared up again and Louise insisted that they see Dr. Lorber.


      Herman Lorber, a Jewish doctor, was not only a doctor but also a father-confessor as well to many of the Villagers.  (Louise became greatly attached to Dr. Harry, as everyone called him, and years later when she was the wife of Bullitt, she insisted he call Doctor Harry whenever they were in the United States and in need of medical attention.)  Doctor Lorber warned them that Reed's condition was now grave. The kidney had flared up occasionally and caused Reed great discomfort and pain, but now, Dr. Lorber told them, there is a possibility that the other kidney is also infected, and he advised a trip to Baltimore for consultation with specialists at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


      (In her notes Louise reveals that Reed told her of an occasion when the kidney problem developed while he was in the Balkans covering the war for Metropolitan Magazine and, oddly, a fellow correspondent, Richard Harding Davis, found himself suffering from a long-standing ailment at the same time.  They decided to see a surgeon at a Bucharest hospital, but he refused to treat them because they refused to admit that they had had syphilis.  “It is ridiculous,” said the surgeon, “nobody has kidney trouble without having had syphilis. We have no time here for jokes or evasion.  Good afternoon, gentlemen.”)


Jack and Louise made the trip to Baltimore the first day in November and the specialists confirmed Dr. Lorber's diagnosis, although the second kidney was still in a healthy condition. They said surgery was essential and warned of its serious nature. They arranged that he return on the tenth for the surgery. It was before returning to Baltimore for the operation that they made a trip to Poughkeepsie, said Louise, and were married by a justice of the peace in the Poughkeepsie City Hall.


When Louise returned to the Village from Baltimore, after leaving Jack for surgery at Johns Hopkins, she was not too surprised to find Eugene O'Neill had moved Into the apartment at 43 Washington Square South.



       Reed was la the hospital thirty-five days. Shortly after the surgeons had operated, he was informed it would have to be done all over again. He wrote Louise daily, sometimes sending telegrams as well as letters.  He was often in such great pain that his writing was barely legible. He wrote about his loneliness, his great need for her, his hope that he would be able to quit newspaper work and concentrate on poetry.  She, in turn, wrote reassuringly that she missed him and hoped for a quick recovery so that he could return to her, and that if he wanted her to, she would come to Baltimore to be near him. Interspersed in the letters were practical matters. 


From Jack:


I sending you back the mortgage all signed and fixed up, also signed and witnessed the deed and Miss Sharkey’s two notes.  I used the notes she sent me . . . (Miss Sharkey was Josephine Sharkey from whom Reed had purchased a cottage at Croton-on-Hudson.  Now that he and Louise were married it became necessary to sign new documents.)


From Louise:


A telegram came from the lawyer saying the Express Company will pay $100 for the loss of the baggage.  If that suits, wire him.  Gene can’t find the telegram.  So, of course, I can’t send it to you.


From Jack:


My dearest honey.  I am very much embarrassed at not having my checkbook here.  You remember I asked you to get one.  And I need shirts, handkerchiefs and nightgowns.



From Jack:


I wish you would write my mother.  She wrote me and said she was hoping for a note from you.  You remember she wrote and called you "Dear Daughter."  Tell her about the operation in detail, will you?  My God, I'm so bored and tired and uncomfortable and lonely for my honey.


From Louise:


Dearest, please don't be lonesome.  I'll come anytime you say and live in a room somewhere.  I don't need to stay in a hotel.  I had crazy sick-to-my tummy spells and feel quite wobbly today. 


From Jack:


Dearest little Honey.  Your letter just came.  Write me right away and tell me how your insides are doing.  I'm really worried...spare no expense to get that fixed up at once.


From Louise:


Please don't let anything I tell you upset you.  I'm all right, but I'm in bed.  Dr. Lorber examined me, ordered me to bed under special care.  I need ice bags and douches and enemas.  It's my insides, my ovaries. They think maybe I got it from your condition.  Dr. Lorber says he'll do his damndest to keep from operating...please hurry and get well.


From Jack:


I'm just waiting breathlessly for word about you.  Your letter came and I was greatly relieved to know that you were able to write, but also alarmed by the nature of your trouble.  But if you haven't told me everything, or even if I think you aren't telling me, I'll leave here on a stretcher and get carried to Hew York.  You mustn't hold back from me, honey.  You ought to have told me when you first got sick.  But honey, it's awful to remove your ovaries, isn't it?  Doesn't that make you incapable of having children and everything like that?  I never heard of that being done but to dogs and cats and horses, why did you wait so long before going to see a doctor? 


Telegram from Jack:


Why doesn't doctor write me what's the matter with you?

Love, Jack.



From Louise:


There isn't any use for the doctor to write - there's nothing to tell.  I'm just the same - even better.  Thank you so much for editing my story.  I know it is bad in places and I accept your criticism.  Gene has read my "The White Rose" and is crazy about it.  He wants me to rewrite part of it, what do you think?  The Old Faithful Nannie (Nan Bailey, operator of the Samovar, a popular Village hangout) and Gene are taking me to dinner.  I'll be bored to death.  I'm so tired of their faces and their chatter.


     He was ready to leave Johns Hopkins on December 15.  Max Eastman drove her to Baltimore and returned both of them to New York.  Then he drove them to Reed's cottage at Croton, where Reed would have a better chance to recuperate.  It was while nursing Reed back to health, seeing him helpless and completely dependent on her, that she began to have second thoughts about O'Neill.  There was the sick-to-my-tummy affair.  She now wondered, as she watched Reed slowly regain his health, why she had written at the height of her affair with O'Neill, and then had published in The Masses:


   0, Thou

                     Bright field that Laughs

                     Because yellow daisies

                     Bloom in thy breast. . .Why am I then



     What in the world had prompted her to write it?  Could Freud explain it?  And she began to wonder at the same time, if O'Neill's passion for her and his passion for drink weren't somehow related.  During their most intimate moments of lovemaking there was always the smell of alcohol on his breath.  She could never recall an occasion when there wasn't.  Suddenly the odor she had associated with her father's tenderness and had always found pleasant since early childhood became offensive.



O'Neill was in despair.  He began to drink more and more heavily and talk endlessly to Terry Carlin and Nan Bailey about his great love for Louise.  He still saw a good deal of her at the Playwright's Theater, but despite her denials, he became aware of an increasing coolness on her part, and a reluctance to be alone with him.


     She began suggesting to Reed that perhaps they ought to end their association with the Playwright's Theater, and on February 27, 1917, to everyone's great surprise, both of them submitted their resignations.  However, late in April when the first crisis in her life with Reed developed, a furious Louise Bryant rushed off to New London, Connecticut, where O'Neill had gone in search of consolation.



“She is two years younger than I am and is wild, straight, brave and graceful to look at,”…….From a letter to Sally, wife of Boardman Robinson, the illustrator of his magazine articles, upon first meeting Louise in Portland, Oregon, in 1915.  (Louise was actually two years older.)






John Reed 














Eugene O’Neill










“When her fingers touched me it was like a prairie fire racing through my body.” …To Terry Carlin, his ubiquitous drinking companion, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where O’Neill’s “Bound East for Cardiff” launched him on his sensational career as a playwright.





”She is charming when sober, but very irritable when drunk.”  ……From his secret divorce testimony during which he was awarded custody of their only child.                                                                                                                                                                             

Ambassador Bullitt




“I guess I was too dull for her.” ….Her first husband to Helen Walters, wife of the well-known American Artist.  Helen had accompanied Louise to the railroad station form where she was to leave for New York to join Reed.  Fully aware she was leaving Portland for good, Paul had nevertheless, brought a batch of violets for her.  “It was,” said Helen, “just like a scene from La Boheme.”








Paul Trullinger







Suddenly the "Great Compact" collapsed.


Both knew what it was like to live under constraint when they agreed to live freely, without inhibitions, crash through 'all tradition and accepted rules for behavior, whether each was alone or when they were together.  Louise knew what constraint was after living with Paul Trullinger, and Reed knew it from his life with Mabel Dodge.  Once, when he left her for what he thought, at the time, was for good, she found a note on the pillow when she awakened and found him gone:


Goodbye, ay darling. I cannot live with you.  You smother me.  You crush me.  You want to kill my spirit.  I love you better than life itself, but do not want to die in my spirit.  I am going away to save myself.  Forgive me.  I love you, I love you, I love you.


      He was twenty-eight in 1915 when he met Louise and she, two years older.  Both were certain they no longer demanded fidelity either in themselves or in those with whom they were involved. Stark reality, immense honesty - these were the key words in their Portland understanding of the way they were going to live.

      Louise was about to meet her first test.



      Anne Calahan was an admirer of Jack Reed's poetry.  She had managed to convince her middle-class parents in San Francisco that she had talent both as an artist and as a poet, and she felt that she could develop these talents better in Greenwich Village, the Mecca for all aspiring young artists and poets.  In the Village, supported by a comfortable allowance from her parents, she demonstrated her determination to become a Bohemian by bobbing her hair, smoking cigarettes in public, and appearing on the streets dressed in an artist's smock, buttoned from the neck to the ankles, with nothing underneath.  She met Reed, Floyd Dell, Max Eastman and began leaning toward Emma Goldman's theories of anarchism.  There was talk in the Village that Reed had been involved in a love affair with Anne before Louise arrived, but that was so common, it interested no one.


      In the spring of 1917, her parents became alarmed by reports of what was happening to her in the Village and they began urging her to come home.  She finally decided to go home for a while, even if only to reassure her parents.  She was in Croton to say good-bye to Max Eastman and Ida Rauh, when it occurred to her to drop in on Jack Reed and Louise at the Sharkey cottage.  She found Reed alone.  Louise, he told her, had gone to New York for a few days.



      It was dark when Louise returned; when she opened the front door she froze.  Convalescing Jack Reed was in a rocking chair in his bathrobe admiring nude Anne Callahan walking slowly around the room, a lighted candle in her right hand, her left hand gently bouncing first one of her breasts, then the other, and reciting Edna St. Vincent Millay's great poem "Renascence. ."


          All I could see from where I stood

          Was three long mountains and a wood;

          I turned and looked....


      Louise also turned....and fled.  Despite her affair with O'Neill, she had always felt sure of Jack, and it had never occurred to her that he might become involved with another woman. It was more than she could face.


      For more than three weeks Jack could find no trace of her in New York. No one was able to tell him where she might be.


      In New London, Connecticut, O'Neill was overjoyed when Louise turned up, without letting him know she was planning to do so. She arrived without baggage other than a handbag. He found a place for her to stay, borrowed some things for her from the Pippin girls, at whose home he had always lived while his parents were away touring with theatrical groups, and began talking about Louise to anyone who would listen. He described her as one of the most fascinating women of all time. When she appeared on the streets of New London she shocked one and all. She was wearing a pair of O'Neill's old trousers, shoes that were too big for her, her hair unkempt, and as Jessica Rippin said, "looking like a character from Greenwich Village who was badly in need of a bath."


      At first Louise found solace in O'Neill's love for her, and poured out her heart to him. But even while they were in bed together, Louise could not shake the vision of a naked Anne Calahan walking about the room fondling her breast and reciting poetry.  She had to return to New York.



      Louise went back on May 15 and tried to find Lincoln Steffens. He was in Europe. She then Looked up Jack's friend, the illustrator Boardman Robinson, and told him and his wife Sally her story. Boardman and Sally knew all about it from Jack, who had told them the same heartbreaking details. Finally Boardman said: "I have an idea. Let me talk to Wheeler. Perhaps his news agency can get you an assignment in Europe to write feature articles about the war. It would do you a world of good - give you a new outlook on life, you know."



      John N. Wheeler was one of America's early organizers of news syndicates. He provided newspapers and magazines not only with feature stories and articles, but also with comic strips.  When he got Bud Fisher under contract to draw the "Mutt and Jeff" strip, his success became assured. By 1917, when Louise came to see him, he was the head of the wheeler Bell Syndicate. He was also a close friend of Boardman Robinson and Jack Reed, and agreed to an arrangement with her to write feature stories about the war from Paris.  (Boardman and Jack had asked him to do that, just as Reed had asked Eastman to let Louise join the contributors of the The Masses.)


      The agreement called for Louise to write the articles, which Wheeler's syndicate would then try to sell to newspapers and magazines. Shrewdly, Wheeler suggested that she see Jack Reed and arrange with him to edit her material to assure a sale for them.  Louise hesitated, but finally agreed to see Jack.


      It was strictly business.  Neither mentioned Anne Calanan and he carefully avoided asking her where she had been living for the more than three weeks since she rushed away from the Sharkey cottage at Croton.  Finally he asked her if she had any money to see her through until proceeds from her articles began to come in.  She knew he had financial problems.  There were the bills for his long stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the long illness and convalescence during which he was unable to write. She shook her head and admitted she had very little money.  He agreed to borrow some money for her expenses, and then he handed her his father's gold watch.  "Here - women can get more from pawnbrokers than men."


      Then he said: "By the way, do you have anyplace to stay tonight?"  She had been staying with the Robinsons, as Jack well knew, but again she shook her head.  He was such a fool, such an irresistible fool.  She began to remove her hat.

      It was early in June before Louise could arrange for passage on a boat for France as an accredited American foreign correspondent.  Reed was at the pier when the ship began pulling away.


     "The last we saw of him," wrote Louise, "he was watching a group of American ambulance men who had their arms around me and were shouting: 'Never mind, we'll take good care of her for you.' They were all very happy at the chance to whip the Kaiser and his Huns, and when the ship had passed the Statue of Liberty they wanted me to join them at the bar for a drink."


      She was lonely and depressed. She smiled at the boys, shook her head, and went to her cabin.



      The first night out on the Atlantic was one of the loneliest of her life. Only once before - the night she wrote her first letter to him from Portland - had she wanted Jack near her as she did now. She began a letter to him:



                      Somewhere on the Atlantic


....and please forgive me. Jack, I'm going to try like the devil to pull myself together over there and come back able to act like a reasonable human being. I know I am probably all wrong about every thing. The only reason I act so crazy is because it hurts so much that I get insane.  If this thing happens again don't, don't get despondent.  You remember you said early in our companionship that people seldom find the lovers they dream about. Oh my darling, I think they seldom know when they do find them.


                      Croton, New York


Dearest of lovers: Got here to find your pitiful little note. It isn't you who must learn, my honey, but me.  In lots of ways we are very different and we must both try and realize that while loving each other.  But, of course, in this last awful business, you were humanly right and I was wrong. I have always loved you and I guess I always will. This is more than I ever felt for anyone. When you come back we'll be able to talk things over again. Oh, what a terrible place our house is without you.


                       Somewhere on the Atlantic


My dearest: The ship is in darkness because the German U-Boats are everywhere. The phosphorus in the water is wonderful. I have written a little poem about it I think you will like:



           The night

           With spendthrift hand

     has scattered the golden stars -

           Millions have fallen laughing,

           Into the sea.


 P.S.  We are really in danger now.


    Croton, New York


The Women's Party girls are still getting pinched every day.  Did I write you that Steffens blew in here from Russia the other day?  He asked how it was between us, and I said I'd been a fool and a cad and he just said that most people are some time in some way.  Sweetheart, I do hope you get over your awful feeling by the time you get back.  I had a long talk with Dr. Lorber about you which I'11 tell you about sometime.  Think about you and me a good deal, will you?  It is not worth going on if you love someone better.




Now, honey, dearest, I am feeling very calm as I write this.  Nothing matters so much as my love for you.  I don't know what you said to Lorber or what he said to you.  I don't love anyone else.  I'm dead sure of that.  I just love you and nobody else.


                      Croton, New York


Went to our house this morning.  God, but it's lovely. The peonies are all out now and the irises and I am having some work done on the grass and the vegetable garden.  I hope, my dearest little lover, you won't stay over there a long time...I am sending you money to Anna Louise Reed.  It will be cabled to you day after tomorrow.  I hope you're safe.




Don't think I am morbid, but if anything happens to me, please write to my mother, Mrs. S. D. Bryant, Box 58-1, Sparks, Nevada.  She can inform the others if anything happens to me...I love you very much.




New York Did you ever meet a girl named Betty Eyre?  I suddenly met her on the street and she looked so withered and so shockingly old.  She drew me into the back room of a saloon and said her lover had ditched her.  She wanted to be held and consoled, but I couldn't.  I am telling you all this so that you may know that never more is there going to be a girl coming between me and my honey.




0, my dear, if I can only get home to you!  Even for a little while! If anything happens that I don't, you will always know that I loved you will all my being. I know you don't think that's as fine as the love that scattered, but, dearest, it's the best thing, the deepest thing in my life.  I would be infinite peace to go to sleep again in your arms - goodnight my dear lover.


                      Washington, D.C.


I had a little talk with the President in Washington. He was most cordial. George Creel offered me a job in the propaganda department, which I refused. Goodnight my dearest little lover.


                      New York


Somehow or other Heywood Broun's story beat yours here by one day and the Tribune published it.  (Broun was, at that time, the Tribune’s regular correspondent.  He became, among other things, the founder of the American Newspaper Guild.)  I enclose the story you wrote for Wheeler. He sold it to the American, which will use more of your stuff.  Dear, I want to tell you honestly how very fine I think your power of observation is. Your story was much fuller than Broun's in the Tribune; for example, trained reporter that he is, he included some details that you rightly ignored.  My darling, you can't come back quickly enough. Harry Kemp is actually lyrical about you.


                     Croton, New York


Today your cable came saying you would be home in August. That means two weeks so you must be sailing soon....It costs a fearful amount to live, and I've had to borrow money to send to you. I am saying all this to explain why it is that I must keep at this terrible newspaper work. I know, my lover, I realize how disappointed you have been. You thought you were getting a hero, and you only a a vicious little person who is fast losing any spark he may have had.  I've discovered with a shock how far I have fallen from the ardent young poet who wrote about Mexico, as Bobby Rogers phrased it.  But please God,I intend to get back to poetry and sweetness some way. I wish we could go off somewhere and live quietly, but alas, I am so in debt.



Louise had arrived in Paris on June 16, 1917, ten days before the first contingent of American fighting men, who were then called doughboys, reached France.  She was there slightly more than a month sending back stories and articles for Reed to edit and for Wheeler to sell, when she cabled Jack that she was returning to the United States and would be home shortly.  German U-Boar-s roaming the Atlantic made more definite scheduling impossible.


      Her sudden decision to return was prompted by tremendously significant developments in Europe.  Czar Nicholas II had abdicated in Russia in March, and Nikolai Lenin had returned from exile in Switzerland a month later.  Russia was in the hands of a Provisional Government.  The allies were panicky that Russia             might negotiate a separate peace with the Germans and their allies and get out of the war.  The most significant development, however, was in the growing restiveness of workers and peasants throughout Europe and the mushrooming of smaller revolutions, notably in the Balkans, as the result of the Russian upheaval.


Louise became convinced that the biggest story of the century was shaping up in Russia, a story that would have tremendous impact on the rest of the world.  She determined that no matter what was involved; she and Reed were going to be on hand to report it.



In New York, Reed had been negotiating for a magazine assignment to China in the fall, but the prospect of a trip to Russia, where he'd been before the czar's abdication, was more exciting than anything he had ever imagined, especially with Louise.


     They began to make plans to cover the Russian revolutionary developments as soon as Louise reached the United States. Reed found the going rough - rougher than he had anticipated.  New York, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia - none of the papers wanted a war correspondent who had been addressing anti-war and anti-conscription rallies and calling the British, now formal American allies, "bloodsuckers."  The United States had been officially at war three months now and even Reed's friend, John Wheeler, shook his head.  "If I try to sell anything about Russia, I might as well figure on closing up shop right now."  Finally, a wealthy importer, Eugen Boissevain, Edna St. Vincent Millay's future husband, launched a fund-raising campaign for The Masses and enough money was collected to enable Reed to become an accredited correspondent.


     Louise, on the other hand, had little trouble working out a new arrangement with Wheeler's syndicate and the Philadelphia Public Ledger, for which William C. Bullitt had worked.  (He now had an important past with the State Department in Washington.)


     The Croton draft board refused to exempt Reed from military service and clear him in order that he might leave the country, even though he had a certificate from Johns Hopkins to the effect that he had one kidney removed.  Not until Lincoln Steffens used his influence in Washington, was he cleared by the draft board at Croton.  Then the State Department made Reed take an oath that he would not attend a meeting of Socialists from all over the world scheduled to be held in Stockholm, Sweden.  The final obstacle to their sailing was removed when a steamship company clerk managed to make room for them on one of the company's crowded ships.  "I vamped him," said Louise to an astonished Reed, who had thought he could no longer be surprised by anything she did.


      O'Neill was again bitterly disappointed.  He knew Reed was negotiating for an assignment to China, and when he learned that Louise was returning home from France, he felt certain that once Reed left for China, she would - again turn to him.  But Louise did not even contact him.  On Friday, August 17, 1917, she and Reed boarded the Danish ship S.S. United States, and their long journey to Russia began.




Part Three