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
There were more Irishmen in
What a place for her to spread her wings as Sara Bard field had
advised her in
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
The Village is a roughly triangular piece of
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 Eu
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
On the north side of the Square, where
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
"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
Reed showed her the building next door,
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
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
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,
Back in the fifteenth century, a band of
hungry, bedraggled gypsies from what is now
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
MARRIAGE! WHO NEEDS IT?
When Reed prepared to
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
The other was the enthusiastic way
nonconformists reacted to Freud's theories in lectures he gave at
The results were, as might have been
expected, unique, to say the least.
Radical labor leader, Bill Haywood, for instance, had as his bed
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
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
But now it was 1916, with another
presidential election coming up in nine months and there were reports that
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
But brilliant and meticulous journalist Jack
Reed was only half listening. He was making notes on what
...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
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
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
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 Eu
dropped in on them one evening. He was a slight-built man, who reminded her of
Professor Howe at the
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.
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
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
"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
"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
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
At the tip of the
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, Eu
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
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
In 1915, they decided to try writing their own original plays
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
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
It was not long before their cottage
became what their
Near the end of May, Louise received two
letters that had been forwarded from
Paul pleaded again for her to return to
(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
STRANGE INTERLUDE: "A short entertainment between the acts of a play."
One afternoon Jig and Susan were
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
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 Eu
"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 Eu
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, Eu
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: "Eu
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
He finally got up enough courage to visit
the Reed cottage on the pretext that he wanted to talk with Jack about events
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
"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:
When sun and wind
And the water....caress you
How can I who am flesh, withhold
And silent as
....are the grey hours
When I cannot touch you or hear
Bright field that laughs
Because yellow daisies
Bloom on your breast... Why am I then
Early in June, Reed left
"In an hour will be in
Louise was having a happy time. She
replied with a letter and a snapshot, which showed her lying among the
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
From Detroit Reed wired Louise an
explanation for the delay in returning to her from
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
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
Wharf Theater preparations for opening night of the new season
were in full swing when Reed returned to
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, Eu
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
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
And here is Agnes Boulton,
whom Eugene O’Neill married when Louise left with Reed for
WHEEL OF PAIN
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
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
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
(It was produced while she was in
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
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 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
Jack and Louise made the trip to
When Louise returned to the Village from
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
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 (
He was ready to leave Johns Hopkins on
December 15. Max Eastman drove her to
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
“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.)
“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.
“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
THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE
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
Louise was about to meet her first test.
was an admirer of Jack Reed's poetry.
She had managed to convince her middle-class parents in
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
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
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
Louise went back on May 15 and tried to
find Lincoln Steffens. He was in
John N. Wheeler was one of
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
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
"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
Somewhere on the
....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.
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
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:
With spendthrift hand
has scattered the golden stars -
Millions have fallen laughing,
Into the sea.
P.S. We are really in danger now.
The Women's Party girls are still getting pinched every day. Did I write you that Steffens
blew in here from
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.
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,
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.
I had a little talk with the President in
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.
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
Louise had arrived in
Her sudden decision to return was
prompted by tremendously significant developments in
Louise became convinced that the biggest story of the century was
shaping up in
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
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
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
O'Neill was again bitterly disappointed. He knew Reed was negotiating for an