Readers of Report on a Writing Man and/or “So Far the Poet . . .”—collections of writings by Tevis Clyde Smith—will remember the incomplete “Gods in Arcady.” This article appeared in an issue of The Junto, probably early-to-mid 1928, and describes a trip that Smith, Truett Vinson, and Bob Howard made to a ranch house (probably Smith’s uncle’s place on the outskirts of Brownwood). The piece describes the trio’s shenanigans as they “ramble in the woods” and, the next morning, cook breakfast and hike to some nearby caves. During a cloudburst, they stash their clothes and camera in a cave and “prance about naked in the shower of rain.” As published in the two volumes mentioned above, the piece ends mid-sentence: “In a moment the deluge is over, and I crawl back into the caves after our pants and the camera. I hand Truett his pants, and he turns around to put them on,”—and that’s it.
I’m happy to report that we now know what happened next. The following stray page was found in Glenn Lord’s papers this weekend:
[. . .] but before he can do so, the click of the camera startles him. We all laugh boisterously. I have taken an artistic view of his posterior.
We then take a number of boxing pictures, as well as several “Afghan photos.” The cliff serves as the Khyber Pass, and Bob and Truett convert their shirts into a stylish form of Oriental headdress.
Then we repair to the caves once more, and chuckle loudly over several articles in The Debunker. We see that one preacher accuses the Evolution Theory as being the cause of the World War. This is a new accusation to us, so we wonder what in hell is going to happen next.
On the way back to the ranch house, I recite several poems by Sassoon, Bob follows, chanting one of Jack London’s verses. We then reach the structure, eat dinner, and put up the dishes.
Somebody recalls the bath which Vic McLaglen took in The Loves of Carmen. (Not the bath which he attempted to take in the horse trough, but the one which he really did take.) So all of us remove our clothes, and douse each other with bucketfuls of water. We make wry faces as each bucketful descends on our sensitive skins, for the water is rather cold, and a whole bucketful tossed upon a naked hide will almost bring one to his knees from the shock. But it is enjoyable at that, and all of us douse bucketful after bucketful upon each other.
After a brisk rubdown, we dress, and listen to Truett as he reads to us from The Road to Buenos Aires. After hearing the best parts of the book, we lock the door once more, and tool homeward.
A few comments:
The photography session described above is reminiscent of another photo shoot that we recently learned about.
Information about The Loves of Carmen (1927) is here.
The Debunker was a journal published by E. Haldeman-Julius, of Little Blue Book fame, from the early 1920s into the 1930s. Its articles “ranged from atheistic, darwinist, to yellow journalism revealing white collar and governmental criminality and lies” (Violet Books). Both Booth Mooney and Harold Preece had articles published therein in the late 1920s.
The Road to Buenos Aires was written by French writer and investigative journalist Albert Londres and published in multiple languages in 1927. The book reports on the trafficking of French and Polish women to Buenos Aires, bound for prostitution. It is a vivid account of the trafficking, part factual reporting and part creative writing. The book cover reads as follows:
Paralleling the disclosures contained in the suppressed League of Nations report on the white slave traffic, this independent work is important and timely. Its matter is sensational but it is written in a remarkable spirit of detachment.
Only at the end, after the sorry tale has been told, and told in the manner of one man relating to another a series of strange experiences, does the author make his challenge.
It is a challenge to our whole Western civilization, to justice and humanity, to the moral sanitation of the world.
Would have been right up Bob Howard’s alley.