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(Excerpts and photographs from Pelley’s autobiography, The Door to Revelation, published in 1939)

This is the story of a man who spent the first thirty-eight years of his life groping for something higher and more satisfying than the normal rewards from strictly worldly living. Then in the thirty-ninth year of his age, in a single night, without the slightest suggestion of a warning, something happened as he lay asleep that altered his career, his philosophy, his destiny. It is also the story of a man who sought to share what came from that experience with millions of his fellow mortals stumbling in bogs of spiritual perplexity, academic fallacy, political subversion and economic bedlam….. and how they received it, and what later grew out of it.

I once knew a woman who owned a puppy. She lived in a house in torrid New York. She became so solicitous of her pet that one summer she sought a place in the country where her poodle could romp to its small heart's content. After going to the trouble of making the journey, she set the dog down on a five-acre lawn. With a pat and a push, she stood up to watch it gambol. But did that pooch gambol? Indeed, it did not. It took one look at those awful open spaces and streaked for a hole beneath the nearby veranda. And it stayed in that hole, I might say, doggedly. No amount of coaxing throughout the remainder of that visit could persuade it to come forth. That dog was born in confinement and would not be satisfied with anything but confinement. It did not really want light and freedom. When freedom was offered, it scurried for confinement in nice cozy darkness.

There are humans like that, alas millions of humans. They yelp and howl behind the windowpanes of life, indicating that the crux of mortal bliss is escaping social dictates, or the vigilance of tutors who truly are but parrots for what wiser men have taught them. Offer them true spiritual freedom, or the chance to gambol in wholly new arenas of thought and labor, and they snap at the hand of him who would release them, or consider as menaces those who invite them to know Life as something other than darkened holes beneath structures of orthodoxy.

Going back to the start of things, where all good stories should begin, I first realized that I was again on earth, with a new body for me to occupy and a fresh life-span ahead for me to live, in a little white-box parsonage on a country road in North Prescott, Massachusetts. I do not mean that I was born there. It was nearly two years after my birth at 32 Goodrich Street, in the city of Lynn, Massachusetts, that I suddenly realized that I was human and alive. My first observations of life that impressed themselves upon my mind and caused me to marvel at the mortal status in which I now found myself, began in that parsonage beside a country church. My father was pastor in that church. I was his only son—between two and three years old.

He was a very young and earnest pastor, my father, in the Methodist denomination. He was very pink in his aquiline face, as I remember him first in those far-off years, very slim in his build, and took a vast amount of pride in the assumption that the Tribe of Pelley could trace its genealogy back in an unbroken line to one Sir John Pelley, knighted and sponsored by Good Queen Elizabeth which attested, of course, that the Pelleys were English.

For reasons that seemed sufficient to the sovereign and my forebear, he towered high enough above the rabble to be requested to kneel down. Whereupon it is logical that Queen Bess borrowed a handy cutlass from some sneering cavalier and did for the first time—of record—what many excellent women have been doing ever since: namely, took a couple of good clouts at a Pelley while she had one down. Whether Sir John had the urge to clout her back is something that is nowhere made clear in the text. I assert that he could not have been a real Pelley, however, if he had not felt it. We may let the matter pass….

So here was I, in the third year of my age, toddling on small, unsteady legs around the sun-baked foundations of a little New England church. I came into consciousness of myself that first drowsy summer, picking up bits of red and blue glass from about those foundations, as lawless youths from former years had done damage to the stained-glass windows. In the year 1892 a boggle-eyed boy on legs somewhat bowed hunted bits of colored glass about the masonry of his father's country church, or slipped the rope with which he was tied to a front-yard pear tree down about his ankles and ran away down the road to a neighbor's…. where he was served with cookies and questions, and later marched home to bed and a spanking.

It was a very lonely spot, the location of that dusty wayside church. On the eastern side of the parsonage stretched a graveyard. There was no other house in sight…. About that graveyard I thought a lot about. It was a very pleasant place in which to play, among those mossy headstones, finding berries in the brambles along its hoary fences. But when on week-day afternoons I saw the buggies of farmer folk draw up around the church, or when the weather beaten sheds in the rear had been filled with stamping horses, and after strange services for the midweek our neighbors brought out a long, black, cloth-covered box from the church's sacrosanct interior, toted it slowly up the road, and bore it in among the senile headstones, I knew a Nameless Horror.

What was contained in those heavy narrow boxes that made our parishioners act so stricken and constrained? Why were they always that dull unglistening black? I appealed to my mother. She always said, "Hush!" and cast a glance at father...

Two or three years later, down in the village of East Templeton, an older girl named Carrie "passed over" suddenly. I had played with this Carrie. We had squatted under the same huge umbrella when a summer shower caught us off in a pasture. I recalled that intimacy as her funeral cortege wound slowly up the hill before the house, with fourteen whiffletrees creaking musically and steel tires striking small rocks in the sand. A matronly neighbor, delegated to keep me at home while my parents held the services, told me that Carrie was in the long black box that I could see through the glass of the carriage at the front.

What had happened to Carrie? I had known of her brief illness and vaguely understood it. But what did they mean by "dead" and how could she move in that mystical black box? I watched the procession move up out of sight. Carrie was gone ….and yet I cannot say truthfully that I did not know what was passing before me. Searching my memory honestly as I write these lines, it seems that in those far-off years I was quite as old a person as I feel myself to be at present. There were two souls of me inside…. that was how it was! One knew all things. The other asked questions.

I cannot recall that I felt any sorrow at Carrie's mystical passing. I missed her as a playmate, but deep within my heart I understood that it had to be, that the world into which I had come was scheduled that way, that down some distant year—a millennium then in eternity—I too would be ridden up a country hill in a somber vehicle with plate glass sides, lying unfeeling and motionless within. But I knew too that when that time came, movement would mean nothing. The real I would be…. away!

At the gigantic age of three, however, I was merely an ancient entity being ridden about the New England hills by two serious young adults, visiting strange families in bucolic sanctimony, exploring strange pantries, and being offered strange cookie jars. As we drove home late each night, I looked up at high stars drowsily. I heard the tugs slapping measuredly against shafts of the buggy, the creaking of the whiffletree, the clicking of tires in the sand, or the soft warm rumble of the planking as we crossed some country bridge.

At the end of those two years father received a "call" to a larger parish in East Templeton—still in Massachusetts. The town was bigger, the church was bigger, so too was the parsonage. This last was a gaunt, two-story house set behind lugubrious pines that moaned softly when the wind swished through them on rainy autumn nights. You know how pine trees might be—great Norway pines—standing before a parsonage in a bleak New England village…

They spoke strangely to me, those pine trees, on a hundred restless twilights, just before oil lamps were lit. They were striving to tell me something that vaguely reminded me of…. Carrie!

A more wholesome man than my father never lived He was clean in his thinking, he was clean in his living. He had his peculiarities, indeed who has not? He aroused my ire on a hundred times when I had become a normal young American going about life's business on my own. But neither blood taint nor soul taint did he ever bequeath me. For that I can overlook our lesser dissensions.

The Pelleys had been clean living, deeply religious people ever since the first Pelley set foot on Newfoundland. Mayhap that North Atlantic storm took all of the worldliness out of the runaway Pelley and set him on land aptly frightened at God.

In her religious scruples and conscientious living, mother equaled father. If either of them erred in my early upbringing, it was by giving me an overdose of personal and domestic sanctimony, painful but guileless. Still, people took their religion seriously up in New England fifty years ago. And besides, my father was a minister. I, his son, had to measure to my role.

At just what life period father "got religion" I have never been advised. I believe his age was fourteen years when his parents brought him down here to "the States" and he started to work in the shoe shops of Lynn. He was foreman of the Valpey & Anthony stitching room when he met and married mother. They set up a modest home on Henry Avenue, in Lynn, moving later into Goodrich Street, where I was inducted into a new mortal coil at seven minutes to one o'clock on the morning of March 12, 1890. Let astrologers do with that date what they will…

Looking back now on those years, I recall that my attitude and angle on this new life in which I found myself, comprised many items that were never quite accounted for in my father's fundamentalism. In the first place, according to modern psychologists, no infant is supposed to think or remember until it has acquired a language to think or remember in. This is not true. Without meaning to publicize myself as unduly precocious, time and again after reaching maturity I recounted to mother the exact geography of the Goodrich Street rooms from which she and father moved before I was aged six months. I have told her of the steepness of the stair-flight down from upper bedrooms, the patterns of the carpets on the floors, of the short narrow hallway opening to the parlor, of the great easel with its painting of dogwood blossoms in a frame of orange plush that stood in a corner. I recalled to her the twin vases of glutinous whiteness that stood near either end of the parlor mantel holding the tail feathers from some long-denuded peacock. I remember as well the "air castle" made from bristles tied with pink yarn that hung from the ceiling and was supposed to be something very swank in the furnishing of parlors before the opening of this century.

I have a distinct recollection, too, of journeying on my back in the depths of my carriage, feeling very hot, stuffy and annoyed at my helpless inconvenience as I gazed up at the grey silk lining of the vehicle's parasol suspended above me on nickel-plated arm. I recall a day in a high wind when my carriage blew from mother's grasp, bringing it up against a fence and spilling me out . . . with no worse effects than bloodying my nose.

The strange part of those memories has been that I seemed to know all about the mortal confinement into which I had gotten myself. Then again, the mortal side of me did not. I felt upon a hundred occasions that I was "older" than my parents and wanted to convey how wrong and narrow they seemed to me in many of their pronouncements. It may be argued that every child does likewise. That too I concede. But I want to know why. If children—as maintained by orthodox philosophy—are the physical products of parental procreation, whence arise their impulses to exasperation when the hapless offspring is forced to submit to the dictates of adults, especially when unreasonable? Understand me, I do not refer to antagonisms to normal discipline required to protect and train a child and prepare it for maturity. I refer to exasperations toward parental limitations, the expression of ethical tenets if you please, with which the youngster disagrees.

It took me thirtyeight years to find the answer to that mystery. But I found it. It came as the aftermath of a single night's esoteric experience high in the mountains of distant California—when The Door to Revelation opened for me suddenly—that has been concretely and specifically responsible for what I have done in the United States since. But back there in 1893 my father had never heard of esoterics. My parents knew nothing of any aspects of life but those which offered them food and clothing, made them conform to current social dictates and impressed upon them that the Age of Miracles closed nineteen hundred years bygone—when our Lord took a sort of celestial levitation to heavenly realms, thereafter to become divine counsel for the defense, leaving the earth to run itself and talk about His visit through all future time.

In short, they were devout, clean living, orthodox people, strictly circumscribed by the Puritanic code of ethics and a literal interpretation of the Jewish Holy Scriptures. And born unto them had been a small, tow-headed cub who occasionally said or did things that brought qualms about his sanity. My zeal for entering anything which lured me had a maturity that caused much consternation. I speak of certain incidents, I say again, to proclaim not my precocity but because I believe that in my own case I was proving something that my father's fundamentalism had tragically passed by. This again concerns the opening of the Door. I read fluently before I started school. I startled my parents of a week in 1895 when they opened their copy of the weekly Zion's Herald and beheld a contribution in The Youth's Letter-Box signed William Dudley Pelley. I had written and mailed the letter myself. It attested to the large experience of myself as gardener, containing among other assertions which required a certain editing, " . . . I have had beans spring up on me in one night." This was accurately the first time anywhere that the name of this author appeared publicly in print. Thereafter the stamp box was kept beyond my reach. . . .

Again to forecast the Opening of the Door, I cannot remember a time when a public rostrum has not seemed as familiar to me as my chair at a table or a stool before a type case. I say that something was "poking through" in those years, to be propounded later on. I was no child prodigy. Such things as prodigies, correctly understood, I declare do not exist. Quite another process is at work, as I dramatically found out. But neither father, mother, nor myself knew it at the time.

The other day I passed the house into which we moved when mother and I took a motor trip for a day to East Templeton. It stands on the south side of the highway, halfway up the first grade running westward from the village, a little flat box-house with barn adjoining. How small and tawdry and barren it looked! How big and well kept and bowered in trees and shrubs it once was, as I had remembered it throughout four decades of absence!

Father bought this little house and a score of acres of land about, colloquially known as the Fairbanks Place, early in 1895, and there we made our residence for the ensuing two years. During this time a sainted soul whom I knew as Grandma Fairbanks gave me my first instruction in reading, using her sewing shears to point out the words in a book of Aesop's Fables. She had reserved two of the upstairs rooms for occupancy until her death as a condition of the sale.

She was a patient-faced New England grandmother who wore her hair behind in a tight little walnut and only ventured forth into the village on a Sabbath morning when she put on a rusty bonnet, draped a genuine Paisley shawl about her rotund figure and attended divine service in the same church in which I had once held forth to my father's consternation. Those all-too-brief years in East Templeton when we lived "downstairs under Grandma Fairbanks" remain in my memory as the perfect idyll of New England existence. When many years later I filled the fiction magazines of the country with homely stories of "Paris, Vermont" and the adventures of Sam Hod and his partner in conducting The Paris Daily Telegraph, it was this Massachusetts village of East Templeton that I called to do service as my "Foxboro Center, just over the mountain." .. .

Certain items stand out in recollection poignantly: the aforementioned death of Carrie while we lived in this house, my first sight of an electric car when the railway came through from Gardner, the sweet piping of spring frogs in the wallow down below the pasture, the dank smell of the rushes that grew along the Causeway where the road from the village bisected twin ponds, church bells tolling beautifully on summer Sabbath mornings, my mother's clear but slightly melancholy voice singing hymns in opal twilight, or the jingle of the bells on sleighs and bobsleds in the icy winter as they mounted the hill before the house and up into carmine sunset. No hurtling Sunday motorists disturbed the calm of that New England ruralism. I wandered the surrounding country by summer and winter, got into many of the scrapes depicted in The Fog, my second novel, finally approached that fraught period when I must start to school. But before doing so, I underwent another queer experience that lifted the Veil thus early on the Life-Behind-Life... .

One singing summer morning, with Edna an infant in her cradle and my elders busy elsewhere, I went out behind the house. The apple blossoms were heavy on the gnarled trees about me. A small knoll lifted south eastward at the edge of the mowing. I halted on this knoll and surveyed the bright landscape.

I looked at piled clouds in the beryline sky. I looked across meadow, pasture and woodlot. I watched bevies of butterflies warbling into distance. At length I looked down—almost at my feet. An ant ran up a grass stalk, found no further place to go, and descended as it came. All the world was lush with life. The universe throbbed with it. Then with a sense of shock, my attention came to rest on the body that I occupied. It was a healthy but dumpy little body. The feet were quite grimy. I believe one toe was wrapped in a rag. Despite my five years, I suddenly asked myself a question from the depths of Ageless Wisdom:

How had I come into that little boy's body? What was I doing in it indeed, in this vibrant world that deployed all about me? What if all of it had never "happened"? Where would I be then? I knew I would be somewhere.

It seemed as though, for an instant, standing on that knoll, a corner of the veil of Eternal Mortality was flashingly lifted, that despite all the assurance of my father's theology, I had known such Singing Nature a thousand times before. How funny to be encased in that pudgy little hulk of peregrinating protoplasm that got dirty so quickly, that had to be fed and washed and put to bed nightly, whose nether portions could be spanked with such blighting embarrassment! Where had all of these human beings come from? Where had the ant come from that ran up the stalk? Where had father and mother come from, and my "new" sister Edna? Yes, and where had Carrie, my playmate of yesteryear, "gone"?

I knew. I knew! It came to me for a fleeting instant on that meadow upland. Then immortality shut down. I was the minister-cobbler's small son again. And two months later found me in school... .

During my first two years of schooling I got my first notions of national politics. Bryan made his celebrated Cross of Gold speech at the Chicago convention and gangs of boys went to and fro in the schoolyard demanding of me—and others—whether we were Republicans or whether we were Democrats. I appealed to my father...

"Pa, am I a Republican or a Demmy-crack?"

"Why," he responded, "you're a Republican."

"Why am I a Republican?"

"Because I'm a Republican—and you happen to be my son."

Thus I discovered that politics had much in common with religion—or for that matter, citizenship itself. You are born into all of them.

I reported to my schoolmates that I "stood" for McKinley. "All right," they decided. And forthwith I was exempt from manhandling—or maybe it was boy-handling—and joined in mussing up such other boys as had Demmy-crack fathers...

Two autumns, two winters, and two springtimes, I went to that village school. I knew how a half-frozen lunch tasted from a pail that smelled of the grease of many homemade doughnuts. I experienced the horror of Friday afternoon "piece speakin' " when the selectmen came in to take note of our eloquence. I idled on my way home from school, summer and winter, as boys will idle. I knew the joys of entering a warm house in the twilight, with only an oil lamp burning in the kitchen but the odor of frying potatoes savory from the stove. After supper I had my chores to do, and split my morning kindling. Another world, all of it, where life was wholesome and not an alien nightmare! From the first day that I set foot in The Gardner Journal office there was something hauntingly familiar about it. Not that particular office… any printing office. No one had to show me how to hold a "stick" properly. I seemed to know the type printer’s case by instinct—only it wasn't instinct. Every moment of my spare time, after we moved to Gardner, I spent about those premises. Snatching up any composing stick that a compositor laid down, I made for a stool and set up lines of type. I remember Old Man Whitaker, one of the paper's proprietors, exclaiming at the way I quadded out my lines. "Who taught you to do that?" he demanded, astonished.

I looked at him in equal wonder. Why should anyone "teach" me how to do it? It was simply done that way, and what more could be said? "Oh, I learnt it years ago," I cried disdainfully… this at the ripe old age of seven.

The fascination which presses, type, and the smell that inked paper held for me became my boyhood's dominant note. When irate compositors finally escorted me from the premises none too gently because they always found my name set up in precisely that composing stick which they required to use next, the burning ambition of my small life was to have my own office and work my own outfit. One of the bitter disillusions of my childhood carne from answering an advertisement in a Sunday supplement that offered "a complete printing outfit" to any juvenile who mailed one dollar to the advertisers. To get that dollar I ran my legs off on errands, conducted a lemonade stand, sold papers on the streets. Had the price been ten thousand dollars it would have seemed no larger nor harder to secure. All the same, I got it. I took four silver quarters to father, asking him to see that they were properly mailed. For a week I dozed to sleep each night envisioning equipment presently to arrive which in a later generation should have been capable of printing The Saturday Evening Post. I prepared a room in the cellar, estimated where I meant to locate the press, where the type racks and imposing-stones should stand. Finally the express man tossed out a package addressed to me, not much larger than a good-sized cigar box. I cut the strings, puzzled, wondering who had sent me a gift out of season. Thereupon I lifted out a dinky little contraption of cheapest cast iron about the size of a corporation's seal. In the box was a little tray of types, each one thrust down endways, two characters only to each compartment. There was likewise an ink dauber and a little tube of ink. In cold horror I looked at the manufacturer’s name upon the wrapper and grasped that here at last was my printing plant. . . . There were not enough types to set up my name.

I fled blindly to the cellar and wept bitter tears. That dollar had come hard. While father was not exactly calloused, this denouement caused him laughter. "You'll learn by such experiences," he told me, "never to buy a pig in a bag."

"But I didn't want a pig. I wanted a printing plant like Whiting & Whitaker's."

"Did you actually think you could get such a plant for one dollar? The newspaper said a printing outfit. I'm sorry, son. But let this be a lesson never to give up money for anything without seeing first just what you're buying."

The Oak Street district in the northwest part of town has long since been built up into a smart suburban neighborhood. But in those bygone days of the Spanish War it was almost "in the country" . . . the woods came down from Bancroft's Hill nearly to our rear door. With Willie Leamy, a boyhood chum, I tramped those woods. We came to know every square foot of that sylvan paradise. We knew every bypath, every pine glade, every swampland, every bog-hole. We knew where to look for the first trailing arbutus, and where the lady's slippers grew in the warmth of piny hillsides. We knew where to go to scare out the partridges. We knew how to locate the haunted spot that had seen the death of a hunting youth by the accidental discharge of the rifle of a friend. No boy who has not known his New England--or American—woodlands between six and ten years old, has the proper experience to ballast his life.

I lived those far-off years in the very heart and essence of a clean, wholesome, untarnished America which must be brought back. Each year held four holidays sacredly observed in the best Nordic tradition: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those were the years when the Grand Army of the Republic was still a power in the land, and the decorating of the graves of soldiers who had died for the Union was a hallowed obligation. Never do I smell the fragrance of moist lilacs in the springtime that I am not carried back to those Memorial Days when hosts of men in blue, the silver beginning to show in their hair, placed New England flowers tenderly on mossy mounds beneath which comrades of other years were sleeping.

When July 4th arrived, we boys got up before dawn and made the air hideous with blastings and boomings. We shot off our firecrackers, we shot off our cannon, we shot off our fingers. What mattered it? Our forebears at Monmouth, Lundy's Lane, and Gettysburg, had lost their arms, their legs, and withal their lives.

And the same thing went for Thanksgiving. We had the story of the Pilgrim Fathers and the Mayflower Compact. We could recite "The breaking waves dashed high on a stern and rockbound coast" till the ghost of old Chief Massasoit strode right into our classrooms. The next day for the epochal meal of the year at home, we had turkey and cranberry sauce—the only day of the year when we did have it. Thanksgiving was thanks giving. It was good to live in those days and know such a heritage. What red-blooded man would not exert himself to the utmost to see that they are brought back?

My Christmases were distinguished by the unfailing arrival of my mother's affluent sister, Georgia, from her home in Peabody. Aunt Georgia was conceded to have made the best matrimonial match in the Goodale family of daughters, in that she had wedded the scion of a wealthy leathern-goods manufacturer. She had been twice to Europe and withal was childless—not that going to Europe could have had much to do with making her otherwise. So days before Christmas she made it an annual rite to hunt the Boston stores with a well-filled pocketbook—not known to sisters who had merely married ministers—and at length packed a crate of the latest toys and candies to make our Yuletide memorable. On the day before Christmas came the lady in person—the only day in the year when the depot hack drove up to our house. Her silk skirts swished in the best Gay Nineties manner and she was fragrant with perfume. She wore fearful and wonderful hats and had gold in her teeth. Her prize distinction in my eyes was a unique watch which had neither numerals nor hands upon its face but told the time by the sudden appearance of the exact hour and moment within little compartments in the center of the dial.

Once she was housed in the "company" bedroom, the unpacking of her boxes and parcels began. We brought in and set up the Christmas tree, selected months before in Bancroft's woods. My Grandmother Goodale­Thurston was infallibly present. Whereupon we made merry in another tradition, quite as patriotic as it is American and Christian. For once in the year I had all the candy I could gorge. The house on Christmas morning, with all of Aunt Georgia's latest toys and gifts, was the sort of place that little children dream about, no matter how much silver has come into their hair. What Christmas in my boyhood would have been without my wealthy Aunt Georgia is hard to conjecture.

I was hoarding my savings to get myself a real printing press. With laudable parental wisdom in raising a small son and making him appreciate the value of his possessions by paying for them in labor, he offered me two cents a bundle for every delivery on my bicycle. Furthermore, he leaned toward no indulgences in the items that he gave me to deliver. I pedaled about Springfield for the next three years on an oversized "wheel," leaving everything at the front doors of citizens from sacks of fertilizer to Easter lilies. I had a wire gadget attached to my handlebars. I would pile this with bundles till I could scarcely see above them.

One night, after the day's deliveries, father met me at home with the epochal announcement, "The Kidder Printing Company up on Bay Street has a practical hand press that I think you could use. We'll drive over after supper and see if it suits."

Eat my supper with a press in sight at last? But I swallowed plenty when we got to Bay Street and discovered that the owners of the shop wanted twenty dollars for the press whereas my savings were but twelve. Father saw my nausea.

"I'll loan you what you're short," he offered, "providing you'll continue to work it out in bundle deliveries."

It was a compact, substantial hand press that took a form six inches by nine. It weighed so much that two men had to carry it out to the wagon. I rode home sitting beside it as interns accompany patients to hospitals in ambulances. I had a shop all ready for it in a small room off the stable. We had moved from 17 Spruce Street to 132 Florence Street during the interval that I saved the twelve dollars and the barn out behind was well suited to my purpose. I had been collecting printing-supply catalogues and haunting Springfield's printing offices for odds and ends of fixtures. One day behind The Springfield Printing & Binding Company I found a discarded spill of reglet thrown out in the alley. It resembled the sort of dream that some of us have, of coming upon a pile of money scattered over the sidewalk. I salvaged it and sorted it. I made tables and type racks from pieces of lumber. My first imposing stone was a slab of marble taken from the bathroom of an abandoned neighboring house.

Father had ideas about saving himself money on his printing. "You can't run a printing office without type," he informed me. As if I did not know it! "You pick out what you need from the catalogues and I'll finance the payment. If you take in a job printing you can pay me back exactly like a bank."

I would have contracted to tote a Jersey cow to the top of the Springfield Arsenal and hang overside by her tail if it got me that equipment. I ordered a dozen fonts of type and enough eight-point to fill a chase with text. At last I was a printer! So at the tender age of twelve I started a journal that I called The Junior Star.

Several issues of The Star had been handed about the schoolyard, each of them delayed for publisher’s reasons, when I took my seat in the class one noontime with a small green grass snake secreted in my pocket. Ahead of me sat a buxom lass named Hazel. The bulge of Hazel’s frock at the back of her neck held a certain fascination, and the particular devil that motivates small boys wrought a swift coordination of enticements and impulses. I took out my entirely harmless little reptile and dropped it down her neck!

If I had dropped a pound of gunpowder into the school's hot furnace, I could not have managed a better explosion. Hazel was out in the aisle in a shake—in fact a great many shakes—frantically clawing the interior of her person. Clothes at the moment were anathema on principle. And she started a screeching that aroused the whole building.

Now my teacher of the period was a lady of some temperament who had failed to catch a man. But if she had failed to catch a man, she showed every indication of success in catching a plump and screeching girl and making her reveal the cause of her contortions. Somehow the snake dropped out and wriggled down a floor-crack. The teacher knew this thing had happened because girls in that classroom climbed high on their desks. That was about the time that I decided, regardless of the hour, that I should leave and go home. But the woman nabbed me going. The principal was sent for. He was a doughty Civil War veteran with a hand like a blackjack.

Somehow I talked myself out of that scrape. Arriving at home and in the silence of my print shop, I decided however I did not like that teacher—she was totally devoid of the slightest sense of humor, or what passes for humor in the philosophy of boys. I decided, in short, that something was wrong with the whole public school system when such humorless females were placed in jurisdiction over up-and-coming youngsters. I would write the woman up and expose her in my paper.

I did write the woman up and expose her in my paper. Had I kept to an attack on the public school system, it would not have been so bad. But I had acquired sundry copies of Elbert Hubbard's Philistine and the sage of East Aurora had become my patron saint. I was steeped in the sweet vitriol of the erstwhile Fra Elbertus and I used it on my pen. I particularly emphasized that teacher's spinster status and told my reasons for it from a six-month observation. I gave my own account of the snake episode as though the whole world were waiting to receive it. The paper was printed. It offered comments on the gapes in Hazel's clothing and said that if I had to be chastised for the hapless business, it was a pity that the teacher's clothing had not received the reptile, it seemed to bulge everywhere ….remarks of that tenor.

Nothing I have ever published about the activities of America's radicals in the past five years has created one-half the denouement that resulted when someone laid a copy on the aforesaid teacher's desk. She dismissed school early. She got her hat. She likewise got her umbrella—or perhaps it was her parasol. Straight for my parental domicile she smoked. She bothered to take along no small boy as Exhibit A in all the brilliant business; she probably thought she could lay hands on him at any time she wanted. Her one-track mind at the moment was prompting her to interview the parents who had been so brash as to give a small boy the uncensored use of a printing press and types. I skirted fourteen blocks in order to arrive at home that evening. When I finally summoned up the courage to go in, the woman was just leaving. Both she and my father had significant gleamings in their eyes. Mother was wisely keeping her silence.

"Well, young man?" my father demanded.

"Yes, sir," I said carelessly, assuming an innocence.

"It seems that you've got me into a rather ugly mess. Don't you know there are some things you can't print in a paper without running the risk of being sued for libel?"

"What's libel?" I faltered.

"Printing the truth about people—too truthfully."

"Then what is it called when you happen to print lies?"

"We won't discuss the political phases of the situation. Now what's this mess about?"

I tried to tell him.

"Ho-hum," he ruminated. His face held a queer look. "Perhaps you'll get along."

I usually had an instinct when father was going to larrup me. These symptoms seemed lacking. I heard him continue ….

"I think you'd better change the name of your paper and sort of confine it to literary subjects. As for what you've done today ….well, you'll learn in militant journalism that whatever you print is just about as safe from reprisal as your opponent's secret dread of you. You've said some unkind and impudent things about your teacher. She's been over here saying a lot of worse things about me for ever turning you loose with a printing press. But I don't have to take the press away from you. You've got to go to school to that woman for the balance of this year. Don't come whining to me if the going gets too tough."

I crept into classroom next morning desperately hoping that I would not be noticed. No such good luck. That teacher noticed no other child that day. Yet the day held surprises. She greeted me with a pleasant good-morning and in forenoon recitation she gave me all the breaks. The week and the month wore scholastically onward. She was so increasingly saccharine in her treatment of me that I began to be troubled. The other boys were seeing it—with schoolyard reprisals. All of it was coals of fire upon my youthful head. Almost a year had passed and I was about to move along into high school before the correct explanation got through my brain.

The woman was afraid that I might lampoon her again!

I confess to my guilt from the beginning of the incident. That teacher had every license to truss me by the thumbs from the rafters and flay me. But she could not afford to have more infant drivel distributed over Springfield to the hazard of her job. She was so nice to me that it began to dawn upon me how Voltaire might have felt when he wrote, "I may not possess a scepter but I do possess a pen!"

I give my father credit for being wise enough to know that tanning my seat for what I had done, or denying me my printing outfit, would have put a dangerous complex into my journalistic courage. Being wise as a newspaperman himself, he knew that sooner or later I would encounter my own reprisals from over-indiscretions. It was a sage thing to do.

In February of that year father came home one night bringing the stupefying announcement that he had sold his delivery business. Moreover the price he had received was sizable enough to start him manufacturing with a partner named Sibley. This Sibley had invented an improved tissue-paper winder for toilet rolls—or convinced father that he had—which would revolutionize the business. Father was going out to York State with Sibley and in due time we would hear from him. He went, and we did.

He came back to drop a second bombshell directly in the center of the Pelley ménage. He was taking me out of school!

Yes, my education, academically, was finished. No college for me, nor high school graduation. It was my duty to accompany him to York State and help him make his millions via rolled-up tissue paper.

The prospect appalled me. I did not want to stop my schooling. I was then a sophomore at Technical High, the publisher of a more pretentious and successful monthly magazine called The Black Crow, president of the high school debating society, and standing so high in my English course that I never was required to take semi-annual exams. What could I do in a mill, making paper?

All of it was futile, my bitter remonstrance. The night we left for Fulton, a city north of Syracuse, a zero blizzard stopped us at Schenectady. The two of us put up at a small, cheap hotel. I remember my tears throughout most of that night. I wanted to go onward and complete my education, go to college, become an editor, an author.

"No," said father. "Paper!"

Now I appreciate that it was part of my role to have that invaluable experience in manufacturing, to learn business fundamentals through hard and grueling practice, to know the problems of the employer, to learn to handle men. My writing would come later. And most certainly it did. That wintry night in Schenectady, however, with the icy blasts rattling the casements and the room over-hot from a surcharge of steam, I found myself venomously critical of my father for what I considered his parental despotism over my destiny. What right had he to ruin my prospects and subvert my talents because he needed the aid of his son in his business? When we finally reached Fulton and I perceived that the much-vaunted factory was but a forty-foot room in which worked one sluttish girl and a small boy with adenoids, my disillusion was complete.

In all of this, father was but an instrument at the command of higher forces. I believe it now—visualizing that sequence in perspective—with absolute conviction. I have shocked a good many people from time to time, telling them to stop their sniveling at what they imagine their parents have done to them. Weird as it may sound, to those hearing this sort of thing for the first time, I have the same adamant conviction that we actually choose our parents, of our own free will, before entering life as infants. We know in advance, before we are physically born, I say, what the factors and trends in a given life will be …by selecting certain parents. The choice is our own. They merely prepare the embryo of which we take possession. We either want what they have to give us, or we do not. We may not always know it in our conscious minds, but eventually it will come to us.

But I did not recognize this great grim principle of esoterics at the time of which I write. Like a hundred million mortals who may not as yet have had the Door to Revelation opened to them, who, in consequence, fancy themselves defeated and thwarted, I accepted the silly tenets of orthodoxy that I had been assembled and projected into life by parental procreation, that fate had decreed me to serve a 21-year sentence to their caprices and tempers, to be finally discharged with my future a mess. What a hodge-podge of blither! As if the physical acts of a man or woman could ever concoct an immortal soul capable of writing a book or exclaiming at a sunset. But what was worse in my case, I beheld in those parents all adulthood in conspiracy against my spiritual integrity, with a smug God looking on woodenly and giving the scheme His blessing. In fact, my father reminded me that God was on his side—and I think that he believed it.

Father was really a sincere but inhibited man who had a hard row to hoe but who finally hoed it, to whom I owe the eternal debt of a sound and normal body, the sturdy tenets of morality derived from a theology that stood for no monkey-business, and last but far from least, an inspirational philosophy that urged me to make the most of myself no matter what sacrifice was entailed in the process. He was harsh with the harshness of limited vision, but he did the best he knew according to his light. His religion frowned on drinking, dancing, card-playing, theater-going. During the days of the parcel delivery our only recreation aside from divine service on Sundays was attending a series of Sabbath afternoon lectures sponsored by the Springfield Young Men's Christian Association in Court Square Theater, which the foremost public men of America addressed. I had the profit of their counsel and ideals from the platform and father and I scarcely missed a one of them. Statesmen, publicists, economists, scientists, explorers …that contact with them was priceless, not for what they said but for what they represented. Henry Cabot Lodge, S. S. McClure, Senators Dolliver, Beveridge, and LaFollette, William Jennings Bryan, Governor Curtis Guild, Sir William Grenfel . . . these men dramatized ideals.

On many a homeward walk after those meetings, father would put his arm about my shoulders and adjure me: "No matter what becomes of me, son, or in what situation you later find yourself, make the most of your life —NEVER LET IT GET YOU DOWN!"

Would to God that the boys of our present generation could live beneath such influences, in such years as I knew them.

But back there in Fulton in 1907, with academic education definitely behind me, I was a resentful young cub, certain that my sire was both bigoted and selfish. Did he propose to force me into being an adult ahead of my time? Very well, I would show him. If I had to smother and repress my literary talents, go to work at the blast of a whistle every morning, then insanely I demanded a grown man’s prerogatives. Of course the chief of these is Woman. I began to look at Woman as I had not observed her. I made it my business to fall violently in love!

Naturally a certain diffidence maintains when a man turns his pen to the affairs of his heart. The intimacies of his spirit, about which his patrons would like to know most, turn to inhibitions controlled by sacrosanct urgings, that dictates of good taste take into account the relationships involving others. But there were significant factors in that first love affair of mine that belong to this saga from the literary standpoint.

It is sufficient to state that the young woman's name was Mabel and that she was a Canadian lass who came down to Fulton to visit an aunt and uncle for the winter. I met her in the choir of the Methodist Church—which father joined at once—where she sang a sweet soprano, and I also made noises in a supposedly sacred manner. I looked upon her, and she looked upon me, and presently we transferred our noise making to her uncle's front parlor …where it ceased to be sacred. I found pleasure in bellowing out the popular ballads of the day while she furnished the proper piano accompaniment.

This sort of thing began one night a week at first, then twice in every week, then six nights in the week. Whereupon, having been forced into the life of a man insofar as business duties and payrolls were concerned, and scarcely understanding the primordial shudders that went through my person as I cuddled her close beneath an April umbrella, I saw nothing inconsistent in wanting my precocious maturity rounded out by the addition of a helpmate.

Just why I needed a mate, and at what she was to help, I paused to give no thought. The girl had a piquant nose, a well-matured bosom, a capricious ankle and a flare for toothsome cookery. She banged the parlor's musical equipment with quite as much cooperation as I put into yowling Charles K. Harris' tuneful banalities. In a matter of weeks we had parish tongues wagging. We were seen walking together in places of solitude at unseasonable hours. The girl came back from such excursions with her hair out of pin and when she was queried, her manner was saucy. Thirty years ago it savored of Ruin!

Father came alive.” What, What? Matrimony? At my age?”

He looked at me as though I had strangled my grandmother. Mother was present and put her portion over. Parental fiats made an end to the session. Father vowed that he would smash the infamous business if he had to break my neck …whereupon he broke plenty, but my neck was not included. He was not particularly delicate in the manner of his breaking.

When another week had passed and the news was cudgeled out of me that I had twice seen Miss Mabel, he took me to my chamber. He threatened me, he cuffed me, he even went so far as to lock me in that bedroom while he deployed across the town and took the matter up with the young woman's relatives. I lifted the sash and went down the rainspout. Beating father to her home by a matter of moments, I whistled my lady-love down from her premises. We walked far afield discussing the denouement.

The spring night was freighted with the incense of lilacs. After a time, the moon arose and joined us. We stayed out so late that even the frogs ceased piping in soft distance. But we came to no decision. What was there to decide? I lacked three years of reaching my majority. I was wholly dependent on my father for my living. A shotgun wedding? No—we did not go in for that sort of thing. Our generation had raised us differently.

It was one of the most poignant evenings which I have ever lived. We had to go back. At the edge of town the girl stopped beneath a wild cherry tree in blossom. She broke off a sprig and put it in her hair. Near the steps to the house she handed it to me. I kept the poor fragile little thing for years—till at last it fell apart.

Eschewing companionships that were pale echoes of my romance, I gave thought to my schooling which the mill had interrupted. Gradually it dawned on me that even academics were not confined to classrooms. If I wanted education, what prevented me from taking it? The lore of the world was contained in its books. I had but to read and all knowledge was my heritage.

I did read. I drugged myself with reading. I read long, serious books, curiously enough mostly history and biography. I wanted to know how other men had solved problems much like mine, how they had met crises, whether I was peculiar in my reactions to my parents. For twenty five years I have read myself to sleep in bed every night.

One night I walked into the newspaper's proof room. I found there a buxom young woman who was softly sympathetic regarding my recent business losses [due to short-sighted decisions by a new board of directors]. I submitted written drivel for her to approve. She not only approved it, but she offered prescriptions for my temperamental lassitude. What I truly needed was a vacation, she said. And what better place to take it than in southern Vermont at the home of her parents?

The spring of 1911 found me out of a job. The prospect of vacation struck me as unique. I had just had three months while my business went to rack. But perhaps the girl was right. I could play around now without worries to rend me. She seemed a good pal to even suggest it. Would she go up with me? She said that she might. . . .  A few weeks later, in the kitchen of an old Vermont farmhouse, with sweet summer rain pattering on the shingles, I asked if she would marry me. She said that she might. . . .


After the Door opened for me, in 1928, many professional psychologists took a morbid relish in analyzing my case—from fragmentary biographies—and informing the public from their asinine profundities that all that prompted the more dramatic episodes of my life was exaggerated neurasthenia. Now neurasthenia, according to the best dictionaries, is brain and nerve exhaustion, a depression of the vital forces. Lengthy monographs have from time to time been published explaining in much detail my addictions to such exhaustions and depressions, principally penned of course by persons who never have met me in their lives.

One expert paid me the doubtful compliment of calling me a Shattered Soul. I say “paid me a compliment” because I have uniformly found that the easiest way for experts to rationalize the behavior of a person who seeks to do anything out of the ordinary is to call his soul "shattered". Most analyses of the outstanding men of this or past generations have proven them shattered souls—beyond the fraction of a doubt. It is truly amazing what these personages of history accomplished as soon as their souls became properly shattered.

But let an infant kick the slats from its cradle in rebellion at the temperature of its milk, show signs of precocity in adolescence, affront the dictates of the social herd in early maturity, and generally bother God and the angels with expositions of his own individuality when he reaches those years when he can do something about it besides lament it, and it is demonstrated beyond the peradventure of a challenge that life has kicked his soul in the face and shattered the poor thing into fiftyseven pieces.

To all of it, fiddlesticks!

I never have had much use for people who let the commonplaces of existence keep them commonplace, anyhow. I have had still less use for men and women who live their lives scared to death that perchance by giving free vent to their inner urges they may actually accomplish something that will leave them marooned on a social island of rugged individualism. I like people who are first and foremost themselves. When a man lives sincerely, without artifice or timidity, I know what he is and just where to find him when I need the particular brand of personality or intellectual or moral attainments that he has to contribute. It’s far better to be eccentric when it is artless eccentricity than to be the most erudite rascal with a flawless conformity.

Some people slide into life to awaken in physical bodies with silver cutlery thrusting from their mouths. They have pleasant, carefree childhoods. They scarcely know a care or a worry, even up to marriage. When they mate off, they still pursue a fairly even tenor of existence, give birth to their progeny, make a comfortable living, belong to all the best clubs and lodges, and then distinguish themselves by dying in sacrosanct decorum. The cemeteries of the world are stuffed with the husks of such mediocrities who had no special errands to consummate excepting to themselves.

No worlds have taken fire in that they existed. They have been the great rank-and-file who sometimes have committed suicide when financial reverses were so ungracious as to touch them, or perished of broken hearts when their mates have eloped with stenographers or icemen. There are other people who have come into life to make a great dent on society's moral apathy, to shake up the cycles wherein they perform, to function as pioneering spirits in political, economic, or martial upheavals—or perhaps to write only one poem, or paint one picture, that influences the culture of a nation or a race. They know it all before hand but temporarily forget it when mortality snugs about them. To do that job well, they ask for the bitterest possible doses of mortal vicissitude. They want life to take them by the scruff of the neck and rub their noses, from the cradle to the grave, in the abrasive gravels of trenchant experience. They ask for this sort of thing ...and get it.

They get it, I believe, by deliberately choosing the types of parents through whom they shall be born, or the known environment in which those parents raise them. They begin to acquire worldly experiencing with the casting off of pinafores. They find themselves batted around, maltreated and generally suppressed. When they come to maturity, they take their romances with lightning-bolt severity. If a woman or two lets them down, it is done by a sort of preconceived arrangement that such are their roles, to deliver the victims ...who are not at all victims ...their several doses of grueling heartbreak making for increment in spiritual balance.

We had been married on December 16, 1911, by the Rev. A. D. Chadsey. Harriet, our first daughter, was born the next year. Thereupon I knew all the throes of being the proud and finicky young father. But long before that happened I came to the conclusion that I could not work for wages. It was anathema to my temperament. Although without funds, I promoted a newspaper. I had to promote it.

The wife I had married was Marion Harriet Stone and she had been horn in Millers Falls, MA of a mother who was a Waste. The Wastes are too well known in northwestern Massachusetts for me to eulogize them here. The name, I was told, was a derivative from West, and the Wests from whom they in turn were derived were the equally well-known clan that signed the Mayflower Compact.

We were mated intellectually, and in a manner of speaking, professionally—she having followed the printing craft like myself on finishing school, learning her business of proofreading at the Cambridge plant of Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Temperamentally, however, we were as opposite as the poles. I was creative, venturesome, crusading. Life to me was a constant campaign with objectives to be won and heights to be conquered. Marion was conservative even to complacency. She viewed life, it later seemed to me, not as a campaign but rather as a program. You lived life, not in reaction to a Pounding Urge that banged your chassis to pieces if you could not get traction, but by arising at seven o'clock each morning and having your breakfast. Then you repaired to your daily labors and pursued them diligently until it was time to go home at night—with an hour off for lunch. You did this six days a week, with the Sabbath off for rest, four weeks to the month, twelve months to the year. At the end of each year you were one year older, just as at the end of each week, and you were certain dollars richer. You used this money to pay the bills incurred by living, and if you could contrive a surplus, you banked it. Gradually you got ahead and owned a little better and larger homestead, and had a larger circle of more affluent friends. When you finally came to die, the local newspaper said nice things about you—perhaps half a column—and all sorts of people attended your funeral.

Such was living life "successfully" as it was held up to me. I have no comment to make upon it, excepting that for some people it may be commendable and suitable ....but that I am not one of them! To me, that sort of existence was a kind of paralysis. It was walking about in a state of living death. Each day to me was a challenge to achieve, to essay something more noteworthy or impelling in character than yesterday or last week. Each day was a separate life-cycle unto itself, with its beginning and its ending, its inception and its climax. To do the same thing twice in succession, in the same manner and at the same tempo, was to demonstrate that nothing had been learned, that no progress had been made, that the spirit had gone static.

After that unbelievable catastrophe at the factory, too, when my most sensitive years at industrial effort had culminated in financial fiasco, I was left with a fixation in regard to money that from Marion's standpoint was as abstruse as it was hapless. Money to me was a means to an end. For a matter of years I had ruthlessly conserved and compounded money. When it got into the hundred thousand dollar status, the unstable and ephemeral nature of Money had suddenly revealed itself. As an intrinsic value within itself, it was data on books. If the figures were sizable enough, you wrote checks against them and had delivered what you wanted. Somehow it was a false standard by which to measure achievement, since you had it one moment in sizable quantities, or your bank teller told you that you did, and the next moment, through no particular fault of your own, you did not. Millions of my industrious and thrifty fellow citizens have come through this Depression with their standards of money similarly altered. Only I had such adjustment at the time of my majority. Money had proved a false friend, quite as much as it had been a Frankenstein, at the crisis in our business. It left me with a strange complex in regard to Money that it only became of importance when I did not possess enough of it for some project in hand.

This became utterly incomprehensible to the girl I had married. I have no word of criticism to offer on her philosophy. Femininity's first demand on life is Security. This is particularly true if the woman be maternal. Her children must be provided for in order to nurture them for their places in society. Marion did not see life in terms of any particular dragons to be vanquished, unless they were the dragons of one's personal improvidence. She was fiercely maternal, almost fanatical about the welfare and the safety of her children as they were born. Still, we had obligations and responsibilities of a cosmic nature toward each other that had to be discharged. And we proceeded to discharge them.

There was always a bit of the little Newfoundland lad in father that was altogether lovable. He wanted to show his easy ability to cope with life as he found it down here in "the States", and when things went against him, his blue eyes showed panic. One day he came to me and half-ashamedly wanted to borrow the money to go to New York and take a job with a paper house. I was glad to let him have it. I contemplated transferring the scene of my journalistic endeavors to Vermont and hoped that he could make enough to keep him and mother. The night before I left for Vermont, having taken a job with The Deerfield Valley Times, I bade him goodbye on the side veranda of the Florence Street house where he stretched in the hammock. The soft August evening was vibrant with xylophones of crickets. The fragrance of syringas bathed us as with incense. How could I know we had come to the parting? Strangely enough, in that last hour I spent with him, we talked of religion, of Pastor Russell's Watch Tower Society in which father had found an interest. I finally kissed him and went down the walk to the car line with bags containing combings of my possessions that had been in mother's custody.

I am a grown man myself now and have lived to see my own boy declare his personality, differ from my views, show definite inclinations for living his own life. Perhaps my father learned too from his contact with myself. It could not have been one-sided.

I assumed mother's support after she had exhausted the meager savings and property that had been left in her possession. My sister Edna married presently after an interval of working on my paper up in Vermont. I had my own way to make with a wife, a baby, a mother and subsequently a mother-in-law, who looked to me for their principal sustenance. I set my wits to work. I succeeded in worming my way into the ownership of The Deerfield Valley Times in Wilmington, Vermont...

I got a call from the Hospital about midnight. "You'd better come over first thing in the morning," my wife's tight voice suggested. "The baby's been in coma ever since we got her here."

A heavy snow fell that night. I procured a horse and sleigh from Craft's Livery and started alone for Brattleboro. Ernest and Edna must get out the paper. Driving up Hogback Mountain in cold, sunny forenoon, a sense of what lay ahead seized hold of me. As the horse stumbled onward through sun-refracting snowdrifts, I choked back full sobs.

"Oh God, don't let her die!" I groaned in a different agony than I had known to date. "Not my baby! Not mine!" I had to learn that one does not make bargains with Divine Providence.

We've lost Harriet," was the way it came—in my mother-in law's brave voice. "We'll be back over home on tomorrow noon's train." The little white casket came over from Brattleboro two days later. Old Man Kidder pulled it down from the station on a hand-sled. We held the funeral in the small front room of our Main Street flat. It brought together all the neighbors and relatives. . . . "I am the resurrection and the life," began the village minister. Marion did not weep. She sat beside me on the divan and her hand found mine in a grip of agony. She had shed all her tears in those hours at the hospital. Harriet had died of cerebral meningitis.

Marion had changed and I could not blame her. Perhaps I too had changed as a result of that Gethsemane. At length the spring of 1914 came beautifully over Vermont's Green Mountains. Harriet was lowered into a little grave in a quiet corner of the cemetery on the hill. Few Sabbath mornings passed that Marion and I did not go up among the ragged asters and sweet white clover and tend that tiny plot of ground where we had buried something that was a fragment of ourselves.

When summer arrived, I found myself so deeply entangled in affairs of The Times, principally from milking my business to pay for Harriet's illness. I had failed with The Times …failed miserably. And that too in my wife's home town. We owed every tradesman in the place and I still had ghastly bills in Brattleboro. My own mother was half-crazed by Harriet's passing. To complete the irony of my predicament, a new life [Adelaide] was beating beneath by wife's heart.

What was it that father had so often said to me? ..."Stand up to life, never let it get you down!" Yes, I would stand up to life.

On the last day of July our tenement was vacated. I left for Bennington by train via Greenfield. At noon, while waiting at the junction of the Greenfield station, I bought a copy of The Boston Globe. Emblazoned over the front page were foreign dispatches narrating the assassination of a certain Austrian archduke at Sarajevo. "If Serbia does not apologize, Germany may declare war within fortyeight hours”, declared the text. I rode up to Bennington apprizing myself of the fraught transpirings three thousand miles eastward.

My stories went out and heartrendingly came back. I was being dunned inhumanly to pay something on those bills in Wilmington and Brattleboro. I once compiled a collection of 175 rejection slips that had come to me before editors no longer sent me rejection slips. Throughout the winter of 1914-1915 I typed away, staving off my creditors, buying new typewriter ribbons and fresh reams of paper. Finally one noontime in December, 1914, I came home to lunch. Four months of the most assiduous effort had not sold a story. But I had shut my emotions to all disappointment. It was a war of attrition between those editors and myself, and I meant to show them that I could last longest. "Look under your plate," advised Marion cryptically.

Beneath it was a salmon-colored envelope with the corner-card of The Popular Magazine, published in New York by Street & Smith. I drew forth the contents, scarcely daring to breathe. A check dropped to the tablecloth. The accompanying letter read:

“We are pleased to accept your story "Spirit of the West" and to tender you herewith our check for $50 in payment. If you have any further stories along this order, we would he glad to read them....”

That fifty dollars was the biggest money that I have ever received for a piece of fiction in my life, not for the amount of the payment but for the fact that I could earn it. Furthermore, it had come in just before Christmas when otherwise our Yuletide had promised to be bleak. Marion took twenty dollars of the money and bought the first suit she had acquired since our marriage. We purchased a stock of inexpensive knick­knacks for the Holbrooks and went over to Jacksonville to spend Christmas with the family.

Months later my trembling fingers plucked up a square envelope with the fraught corner-card of The Saturday Evening Post. I pulled forth the terse letter inside with the inimitable scrawl of George Horace Lorimer. Again it was the fact that I could command such attention that supplied most of my thrill. I was winning, winning! Lorimer had written:

“We are most favorably impressed by your story "Li'l Son of a Gun" and if a payment of $300 will be acceptable we will have a check drawn to your order for that amount. We would like to cut the narrative somewhat but our surgery will be painless."

I finally gave up my job on The Banner. I wanted to be free to travel about, to comb for new material, to write according to my moods. Clate, the lovable old rapscallion, had taken a personal interest in the progress of my expanding recognition. But he was still struggling with my yarn about the oil well. "Say," he cried suddenly, shut in with me one night in the cozy back office, "I can't figure out why the devil you keep turning out stories of the wild and wooly west—as if nothing happened right here in Bennington. Take this office for instance—the drama that's occurred in it, or had fetched into it since nine o'clock this morning. Why don't you write up the local color here at home?"

Forthwith he launched into a poignant incident that had filled half a column in the night's Evening Banner. It struck me with a smash. The man was right! He went on:

"There's a book you ought to read called In Our Town. It's by William Allen White of The Emporia Gazette. It's a book of homely sketches of the same sort of American folks who are passing through The Banner office day after day. I think my copy is up here in this cabinet." He pulled a book out and blew off the dust. "Take that home tonight and read it. Then see what you can do about fitting action-plots to that sort of character-drawing. You'll strike a new note."

I did as he suggested. Page after page of In Our Town moved me to tears. I knew these people. They were ordinary, two-legged humans—loving, hoping, laboring, marrying and dying—living their unwept, un-honored and unsung lives as nobly as they could, representative Americans who displayed their poignant heroisms the clock around with never a thought that they were composing the true saga of our century.

Two weeks later I dropped into Jack Hart's Movie House to see a mother-love film on the screen. A woman had been widowed and left with six boys. The plot of the movie had it that all six had turned out to be scalawags—and yet she carried on. I came from that theater doing some thinking. Why not a story in which the sons of a widowed mother all turned out to be world-famous successes? Would it not hold more drama and more wholesome emotion?

I had lately rented a little office across the street from the theater, which Clate often referred to as the Bennington Short Story Mill. I crossed to this office and snapped on the lights. At nine o'clock I began a story about a woman whose boys were all successes. It was one of those rare narratives that literally wrote itself, drawn from my own experience.

Once in my boyhood, while we had been living in the Spruce Street house, my father had been called to Lynn by the illness of his mother. He had taken me with him. All the rest of my uncles had been similarly summoned though the old lady did not die. That scene in her bedroom, however, I had never forgotten. About her bed were gathered five strapping, full-grown sons—clean, fine men. On the bed stretched the form of a life-spent old woman. From her wasted loins these strong men had sprung. They owed their manhood, their virility, their careers to her. The drama of that tableau were seared on my memory.

Now, I wrote the story, simply, naturally, unaffectedly—as I felt it. When around midnight I came to read through my pages, I realized I did not have to alter a comma. With the emotion of it still gripping me, I found an envelope and stamps. I mailed it to John Siddell of The American Magazine as I passed the post office at midnight. Two days later came a telegram:


I went to New York and met John Siddell. I was ushered into the offices of Bert Boyden first, the managing editor. He was a strong but kindly faced fellow with a grim chuckle which put me at ease at once. Presently in came a portly, six-foot Scotchman whose hair gave the impression of a rumpled toupee. He had shrewd blue eyes behind rimless spectacles and the most volatile vocabulary in all my experience. "My gawd!" he cried, walking about and waving his arms. "What a story! WHAT a story! You're either a genius or had a lucky accident. How quick can you furnish me five more just like it?"

"As fast as you can pay for them. And it wasn't any ‘lucky accident’."

"I'll pay you two hundred and fifty dollars apiece and jump you fifty dollars a series for every six I take thereafter."

I went back to my hotel and wrote another in similar vein—concerning plain ordinary folk who came and went each day through The Banner office. Sid grabbed for it in equal enthusiasm. Not one in the series did he ever turn back on me. I don't recall ever getting a rejection slip from The American Magazine while he remained its editor. “Their Mother” was published in the September issue of The American and exhausted the edition on the newsstands. That awoke other New York magazine men. Arthur Vance of Pictorial Review took a small-town series. Karl Harriman of The Red Book bought twenty-two in a row.

One night subsequently, after a week's absence, I walked into my home. "I've bought the bankrupt Caledonian”, I reported to Marion.

Her mouth acquired a grimness. She said, "Having made a fizzle of two papers already, you'd toss our good story money away on a third?"

"I'm not going to toss good story money anywhere. I'm going to MAKE money just to prove that I can do it."

"You don't have to prove anything. Stick to your writing and let's make us a bank account."

"But," I remonstrated, "pecking at a typewriter week after week is boring me stiff. I want to be in the swim of doing something. I want a problem to tackle and solve. This newspaper project gives me that problem. I'm going to revive it as an evening newspaper—"

"The Caledonian or the problem?"

"I want the experience of running a daily of my own."

"And after you've got it, and it's running nicely?"

"When that moment arrives, I'll probably walk out and leave it flat."

"Yes, I dare say you will."

Through all this petty journalistic stramash, the great war in Europe had been going on, gradually settling into a gory stalemate. I still wrote stories for the national magazines, but no acceptance of a new story now gave me one-half the kick that I received from producing a snappy, profitable evening daily, playing around the forms myself, locking myself into the shop after hours and setting my own editorial features directly on the linotype. During that first six months I doubled the circulation. I moved the plant and duplex from the barn-like structure on Central Avenue hill into tight, compact quarters under Randall & Whitcomb's News Room. I bought two new Intertypes and redressed the paper in the matter of typography. In addition to this office rejuvenation, I bargained for one of the best homes available in the town's residential section, and traded my Saxon Six for the latest and most expensive Hudson Super-Six.

Life was zestful for me, indeed, in those Green Mountain months. Society was still reasonably sane, although propaganda to get the United States into the conflict was being mischievously promoted by enemy agents ensconced behind the scenes in Washington and elsewhere. The fates, however, would not leave me in peace. They had no intention of letting me bog down and marry a small-town evening newspaper. One night two men walked into my composing room.

The first words sent my world into a tailspin. "I've come up from New York to see you," he announced, "to find out if I can persuade you to take a trip around the world."

For a moment I regarded him as though he were a lunatic. Why should anybody, especially a Methodist bishop, offer me a trip around the world unless the deal held fishhooks?

"You're aware, I hope," my caller went on, "of the work of the Methodist Centenary. I'm up here representing Dr. Earl S. Taylor of the Centenary Movement. Dr. Taylor was coming through Colorado recently on a train when he happened to buy an American Magazine containing one of your stories. It affected him so powerfully that he exclaimed, `This fellow Pelley is exactly the chap we should send out into the foreign missionary field on our Centenary survey. If he can write of Oriental conditions as movingly as he's written here about life in Vermont, we'll be doing ourselves a service by giving him the trip and paying his expenses.' So," continued Fisher, "that accounts for my being here."

"B-But," I faltered, "I c-can't afford to t-take a trip around the world."

"No one's asking you to spend your own money. In fact, we'd be prepared to furnish your transportation with, say, five thousand dollars to compensate for your time."

I said, "Where's this money coming from?"

Fisher then outlined the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation in the matter of the Centenary.

My next question was: "Where must I go?"

"You should sail from San Francisco in a month or six weeks. You should go first to Japan by way of Honolulu. After making a survey of foreign missions in Japan you ought to go up through Korea to North China, then around to India. From India you would return home by way of the Holy Land and Egypt. All the compensation we would ask of you would be that you write honestly, interestingly, and graphically of foreign missions as you find them, of the lives of the missionaries, and just what you think of the work they're accomplishing. The trip will take a year."

Came the day and the hour when I glanced about my perfectly appointed little newspaper plant for the last time, shook hands in farewell with my faithful employees, went out into my Hudson with my wife, my child, my mother, and my mother-in-law loaded aboard amid generous assortments of bags and queer parcels. Not that I was taking all of these with me. But I had found that my sailing date permitted us to cross America by motor car. Mother Holbrook and Adelaide would wait in Los Angeles until our return. My own little mother went along for the ride, to come back by train to her home in Springfield.

I still had a half-interest in my newspaper, money in the bank, forty thousand dollars' worth of paid-up insurance on my life, full expenses for the trip, five thousand dollars in Methodist Church drafts handed me in New York, and in addition to all of these, practically ten thousands dollars in currency that I had received that morning from the two local men who were going to conduct the paper until my return. . . .

Suddenly, magnificently, I beheld a snow-white cone that seemed exotic cloud. "Fujiyama!" explained the Japan-wise among us.

America, Los Angeles where Adelaide and Mother Holbrook stayed, Vermont, my Evening Caledonian office, Bennington, Wilmington, Chicopee, the Fulton factory, the East Templeton parsonage . . . all these were far, far away in another life when our doughty little vessel steamed slowly up Tokyo Bay toward Yokohama that nineteenth afternoon. The only link that bound me to all that I had ever been was the girl I had married that slushy night in Springfield, surrounded now by a bevy of women friends near the prow of the ship, watching the first valiant sampans tacking across our course. I saw that approach to Japan through the eye of the novelist.

Silver sunshine on cobalt water. Gulls and sampans. A low-lying beach of chalky whiteness flowing past us for an hour on the north as our vessel gradually entered Tokyo Bay. The snow-white cone of Fujiyama fading from the sky. Curdles of black industrial smoke arising above the outlines of incongruous skyscrapers. Then a veer toward the north as land showed straight ahead with the vessels of a hundred nations passing or at anchor. Yokohama's bluffs lifting green behind the city on the left. And always the sampans worming hither and yon, sometimes propelled by leg o' mutton sails, sometimes worried forward by naked brown boatmen plying at rudder oars. Then gradually the rising of the miles of docks from brackish yellow water. Everywhere now the fried-egg flag of Japan—the kerchief of yellow with its orange-pink yoke.

A paper nation, a country of children, a land of exquisite culture, infallible courtesy, perfect law and order, inimitable ethics. In all the time that I spent in Japan, I never saw a street brawl, I saw but one drunken person, I never heard a Japanese baby howling nor, conversely, saw one spanked. Courtesy, docility, stiff and formal graciousness—these I saw met by western vulgarity, boorishness, bombast, all-round insolence. I had not been in the Flowery Kingdom a week before I was ashamed of my people, ashamed of what purported to be my "religion," certainly ashamed of the nature of my errand.

I had come out at the expense of a great American church to investigate and report on the efficacy of foreign missions. What need, forsooth, had the Japanese for our religion? I saw them living the ethics of it, day unto day, amongst and between themselves. I saw them as residents of a country where all the fine, intersocial precepts which we as Christians flaunt so brazenly as the end-and-aim of modern civilization, had become so natural to the Japanese that they were scarcely worthy of comment.

I have not the slightest criticism to offer of missionaries as a caste, a group of earnest, self-sacrificing people who had exiled themselves from homeland and friends to remain out there in the Orient's "darkness" and carry the precepts of the Lowly Galilean unto those who knew Him not. But as for the missionary gesture as a gesture—I was almost minded to use the cruder term "racket"—it began to stack up to me as the most nonsensical, insolent, arrogant program that a distant nation of provincials could connive and inflict upon another in the name of Holy Spirit. In other words, it was purely theological. We were trying to "sell" the Japanese not so much on Christian ethics—because they already possessed and practiced those ethics in a way far advanced over ours—but upon a Theological Hypothesis. In other words, the Vicarious Atonement. And the Japanese could comprehend neither one nor the other. Their minds did not function in complexities of doctrine, all more or less philosophical, or if they did, they saw nothing to get so excited about, as these missionaries perceived with their many sects and creeds. All that fuss and pother, I thought, and the raising of millions of money, and the construction of churches and schools and traveling to and fro on steamboats ....for the proselyting of a Theological Hypothesis that causes plenty of wrangle among Christians at home! Small wonder that Christianity meant so little in the Orient!

Instead of sending missionaries to convert the Japanese, or the Chinese, or the Hindu, to Christian ethics, we should import a few of those Orientals to bring Christian ethics across the seas to us. At least it seemed so, as I probed deeper and deeper into the activity I had gone out to survey.

I had not been in Japan a fortnight before my conscience began to hurt me. Dr. Taylor, Bishop Fisher, the others back at 150 Fifth Avenue in New York, had made this trip possible that I might become a polite propagandist for the missionary movement. Instead of this, my manifest conclusion was growing more embarrassing that the kindliest thing which we brain-strapped Christians could do would be to pack up our vaunted missionary enterprises and let the "heathen" alone. Coming right down to it—and my opinion did not alter when I finally sailed homeward—the "heathen" had far more to teach us than we could teach him in a millennium of Sundays. And I think my conclusion is the conclusion of every sane, unbiased, logical Nordic who has spent an appreciable time in the Orient. There are phases of oriental life that are merciless and vile. There is ignorance and super­stition, poverty and squalor. But have we not also the merciless and vile, the ignorant, the superstitious, among our western nations? Unkind tradesmen-residents often referred to such spiritual projects as I was surveying, as "the missionary racket."  It was not such, by any means, as we know rackets in popular parlance. Long before I came to quit Japan, I labeled the movement "the missionary blunder." There is all the difference in the world between a racket and a blunder.

And yet invariably a queer sixth sense would whisper to me that I was emphatically not upon a pleasure jaunt. It had not happened by a lucky chance that Dr. Taylor had picked up one of my stories in a transcontinental train. Nor was I out there, moving among these teeming Asiatics to give thousands of earnest Christian people broken illusions about the efficacy of converting the "heathen" to our Christ. It was bigger than anything that I had stumbled upon to date. I was out there in preparation for something—that was it!—getting an education in international politics while I yet had time, seeing a world of international affairs that in my previous provincialism I had scarcely dreamed existed. I talked with Red Cross nurses, with Japanese officials. Gradually I became intimate with missionary problems, with the quandaries of Japanese statesmanship, with Nipponese psychology. My sympathy, understanding and tolerance for the Japanese people began to grow apace.

One rainy night in the Methodist auditorium in Karuizawa, the “Saratoga” of Japan far up in its interior, a tall, military personage intercepted me as we started back to the Iglehart camp. "Isn't your name Pelley?" I agreed that it was.

"I understand you're a writer for The Saturday Evening Post. My name's Phelps . . . George S. Phelps. I'm International Y. M. C. A. Secretary for the Far East with headquarters down in Tokyo. Your boats have been pulled off the China passenger service, Bishop Harris tells me, and you're sort of marooned here till the Intervention ends." Again I agreed, wondering what was coming.

"I'm here to find out if the `Y' could interest you in a proposition to go up to Siberia and do some special work . . . acting as a sort of scout for the establishment of the canteens we're going to install all through Russia. Also, being a trained newspaperman, you're equipped to take on certain espionage work that needs to be done . . . it'll give you the chance to see Russia under Bolshevism."

It seemed as though a great segment fell into proper place in those moments in my life.

I went back to the house and found Marion in a corner of the Iglehart living room with a big bag of knitting.

"I'm getting into the War," I told her simply. It was all in my brevet.

The future still held the key that unlocked that Higher Door, however, and I had nine more years of journeyings through lowlands and morasses before I knew my earthly commission, that Christos had not spoken falsely when He said, "In my Father's house are many mansions! I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, ye may be also!"

I was the Alpha and Omega of earthly achievement. But only the heights of the world could expound it. I went down at last, climbing down painfully, step after step. A different set of muscles now shrieked with the torture.

Significant to relate, I went down alone. Always and forever, we go down alone.

My party of the night had all vanished now. Brilliance of sunlight was flooding the world. Yet the depths into which I was lowering myself, moment on moment, were dark, dark. I was heading into Bolshevia to know the Bath of Horror.

I was presently to go through ten to fifteen years of still more practical experiencing before I could perceive this education in perspective and properly appraise the merits of its factors. The night came in Yokohama when I kissed the wife of my youthful marriage goodbye and went aboard a sleeping car that would take me to Tsuruga, the seaport on Japan's western side where the Russian steamers docked and where troops were being loaded.

In the hour that followed I got my orders. The officials of the Young Men's Christian Association desired to secure vital information about internal Siberia and eastern Russia that would facilitate a drive to turn the young men of Russia away from satanic Leninism, to locate strong educational centers under Christian auspices from the cities of Kamchatka southwestward to the Ukraine, and conversely to acquaint the people of the United States with the true nature of Communism behind the scenes. It was a noble plan, and all honor be given to the men who then thought it possible. Could it have succeeded, the story of Siberian Asia might have been altered.

My orders amounted to this: "Go into the interior and find out what's happening. Make contact with so-and-so at this point, and so-and-so at that point. Wherever you can do so, bring us back Kodak pictures of conditions but don't let yourself be caught using a camera too boldly or it means you'll be shot. If scaled orders or documents are put into your hands to bring out for the diplomatic corps, bring them out and no ques­tions asked. You have carte blanche to move anywhere behind the Czech, the Japanese, and White Russian lines from Khabarovsk to Tomsk. You'll do this as an ordinary Red Triangle secretary, hitching your canteen car to Japanese and White Russian troop trains. No one is to know that you're anything else. And you'll start up-country into the Blagovyeshchenck sector, and around the Amur River district, day after tomorrow. When you reach Chita, wait there, if advisable, for contact with the official Red Triangle Commission that is going through Irkutsk in about a fortnight and make your first report." It was a strange commission.

No man in the whole war had a stranger one. I found out that I was combi­nation Red Triangle secretary, war correspondent, espionage agent, secret photographer, canteen proprietor, and consular courier—a sort of field scout for the advance guard of the Christian Y, striving to plant sanity, decency, and political stability in a land being slowly mutilated and mangled by Communism. In all of it I was to have no bodyguard, no official standing beyond my khaki uniform that carried the dubious military authority of second lieutenant. If I landed in a jam I could not appeal to my government for protection. Once I left Vladivostok, I must depend solely on my wits. If I came out, I would merely be thanked. If I did not come out, no one would be the wiser. I would be just another dead body staring up at the cold Siberian sun to be picked by the jackals that roamed the empty wastes.

Viewed in a more personal light, however, it meant a stupendous field for social and political observation. I had been handed an entire theater of Asiatic hostilities to research at caprice. I had such a chance as came to no other man in the war to apprise myself of racial and psychological conditions from Japan to Turkestan. I would see Bolshevism installed in a country with my own eyes—and the more creditable eye of the Kodak. I could meet and discuss this great soviet "experiment" and men who were undertaking to combat it tooth and claw in its incipient stages. Furthermore, I was to be a private military observer of Japanese troops maneuvers throughout Manchuria and North China. I was to live among the little brown men under war-time conditions. I was to meet up with ill-fated General Kolchak and his heroic White Russians, to become caught in the great eastern exodus of royalist refugees fleeing before the Latvian mercenaries of Lenin and Trotsky, and hear from them by first-hand contact exactly what had happened in Petrograd and Moscow—and even Ekaterinburg with its Romanoff shambles—as the vast Communistic regime came in.

When parlor socialists and drawing room pinks here in the United States try to tell me what Bolshevism is or is not, or what Communism will do or not do, I need not rely on Jewish propaganda or fanatical ignoramuses to serve me with the truth. I WAS THERE AND SAW COMMUNISM INSTALLED BEFORE MY GAZE!

I left Vladivostok on the day after that conference, and thereupon and until after the end of the war, I was to all intents and purposes a free-lance adventurer, my own private espionage agent, lost in the immensity of embattled Asia, gaining my own soldier-of-fortune education and enlightenment for the role I would be called upon to play in my own country fifteen years in the future. With such a background, such an opportunity, such an experience, such a training, how could I do otherwise than pursue my present calling?

The terrain was flat, sandy and overgrown with scrub. Hundreds of miles resembled the landscape between Fitchburg and Boston back in Massachusetts. Our locomotive burned wood. Showers of sparks had long since fired the woodlands far back from the tracks. Lakes and ravines opened as we mounted northward toward Kamchatka. Billions of wild flowers, of every conceivable color and variety, carpeted the uplands. The roadbed was rock-ballasted, the curves broad and stolid, the bridges heavy and substantial. But of cities and towns we saw next to none. The railroads in Siberia, not constructed for private profits from the citizenry but for movement of troops in war, made no effort to zigzag from community to community. Straight trackage was the rule, and if a city or town happened to be miles off the right-of-way, it was transportationally short on luck. The proximity of a sizable community might be indicated only by a long low railroad station, built half of logs, set back from the tracks across a rough-planked platform. The buildings comprised everything from waiting room and freight depot to station-master's private home and the omnipresent hot-water house. Most of these units were painted flagrant mustard yellow. The typical Russian touch was supplied by the carved arabesque and rococo decorations in the angles of the gables.

Hour after hour, day after day, we droned northward, steadily approaching the Alexieffs' battlefields. Japanese troops were now everywhere in evidence, vigilant against guerrilla raidings. Bands of these renegade raiders made any sort of traveling precarious. Cossack groups, defected from the regular armies after the coming of Lenin, were plundering and pillaging on principle. In our car we had Josef, a Czech private, as cook and orderly. One night he summoned me excitedly and pointed northwestward. I summoned Vyles as quickly. The twilight sky held a horrid nimbus. Red flames were shooting higher as the railroad distance lessened.

"Some bonfire!" Vyles cried worriedly.

"Ah tank Blagovyeshchenck, she burn," muttered Josef. A city consumed by flames!

The train slowed down and proceeded cautiously, lit by the growing glare, darkness smothered with ominous suddenness. A man on a pony went tearing past. We could not tell his nationality but Josef addressed him in Bohemian Russian.

"He say Bolsheveek set fire. Mooch peeble shot. Japs have battle on hands preety qvick. Mebee beeg bridge down ahead, we wait here long time!

This disruption of the peasantry was a piteous thing. All Siberia, I was presently to learn, was a chaotic migration of disrupted peasantry, no destination to be arrived at, no geographical knowledge of the country to enable provincials to return to their villages—which all too often had become charred heaps of cabins on lonely steppes. Peasant trains were choked to suffocation when cold weather arrived with these peregrinating homesteaders. Whole villages of peasants would seize upon a train, get into it, and refuse to be ejected. Most of the trains had freight cars half as big again as those in the United States with wheels beneath the coaches, and rails beneath the wheels, and as sympathetic railroad crews manned cars and locomotives, these villages MOVED—so long as wood or coal held out. When it did not hold out, the engine crew would halt at a point on the steppes, go over the hill with portable barrows, and come back with surface coal turned up beneath the sod.

And what sights were all too common beneath the windows of those coaches! I know, I know!

Who can describe a Tatar battlefield piled or strewn with human bodies? The macabre sights, as Japanese or Czech troops set about interring the dead, if one could term it interment, were rendered thrice unspeakable by the stark nakedness of the corpses slowly bloating in putrefactive sunshine. Mangled bodies, burned bodies, bodies impaled by many things besides honest bayonets! The barbarous practice of stripping the dead of fabrics or boots, too valuable to bury, was something so common that it soon aroused no comment. Of the demoniacal mutilations I cannot write. But I made rakish discoveries in those horrible days. I learned that a corpse, left overlong above ground, turns a sickish green-black. I learned that the dead on a battlefield sometimes move, sometimes groan—without a spark of life within them. A mysterious feature of those Siberian raiding fields was the unaccountable quantities of what seemed to be tar paper thrown promiscuously about in tattered sheets. What it was, where it came from, I never learned accurately. I made the discovery too that human stench can become so terrific that the sense of smell suspends, the nostrils no longer sense it. Few attempts were made to lift the charred corpses and bury them in shrouds. There were no shrouds. A trench was dug. Ropes were looped over stiffened members and piles of bodies dragged apart and across the sod as so much carrion . . . for dumping in such trenches. Certainly they made warfare as I saw it in Siberia. No man can say that he has lived a full life until he has known Love, Riches, and War. And the greatest of these is War.

Seeing a man shot before one's eyes was not half so terrible as those grinning, bloated things strewn around amid sheets and scraps of the unaccountable tar paper—which must have been from water-proof linings of munitions boxes. Again and again I thought to myself . . . "and once, not so many years ago, each and every one of them was a pink and gurgling infant whom some forgotten mother had suffered equally as frightfully to bring into this bedlamic world!" . . . At one time when our car was sidetracked within a fighting area a bewhiskered and hysterical Russian came running toward it. A volley from up the railroad yards got him. He slowed and staggered, hands clutching his belly. Presently he was sobbing, like a frightened little boy, one hand groping for the upright of a signal post, the other gripping at his groin where the lead bullet had gone in. When the raid was over, the little-boy sobbing gradually died away. So too did the life. When the train was suddenly jerked from the embattled district, his corpse was left lying against the post as though in his exertions he had merely dropped to sleep. It was usually a long time before anyone buried these corpses. The country was bestrewn with such gruesome exhibits. I brought back one picture of five Czechs crucified against a rail fence. They had been there a week, dispatched by disemboweling. Bullets were too valuable to waste on executions.

And yet it was not the big major engagements, the mangling of the bodies, the dragging away of the women's one-time babies into trenches, the explosions under bridges and rolling stock, that stayed with me longest and in the accumulate indelibly inscribed that war in Siberia. It was the little human scenes of private distraction or tragedy that tore at the heartstrings and made the trek insufferable.

One rare October afternoon our car was shunted onto the end of a peasant train. A little family consisting of father, mother, three children and grandparents, came from the hamlet's crude log station and began to load into the car just ahead of us. I doubt if that family knew where it was going, but it was moving somewhere on principle. All its possessions were a sack of clothing, another of onions, a bucksaw and a sawbuck, and a three-legged stool. These were handed up. The grandparents got aboard and reached down for the children.

Then for some reason the young husband made a quick trip back into the station. The building had scarcely hidden him when the train started suddenly. "Papa! Papa!", wailed the distraught young mother who was still on the ground. Her parents and babies were being borne away from her and her husband could not hear her. In mad panic, unable to get aboard, she seized insanely on the door frame to exert her strength and hold that train back. Her fingers locked into it as in a death-clutch. "Stop it! Stop it!" she wailed in Russian. But the train did not stop. It gathered momentum and she presently lost her footing. In terrible danger of being crushed beneath the wheels, she was dragged down the track. "Papa! Papa! Help me!" she wailed. That "Help me!" rang in my ears for a month and a day. Finally her grip was ruthlessly ripped loose. She crumpled against a culvert.

Happily to report, it did not kill her. Happier to relate, the train was not departing out of that station. It had merely gone down the yards to back up upon a spur. So the children and parents were presently restored to that wracked young mother and the befuddled husband who lifted her tenderly. But no wail of the dying ever rang half so poignantly in my heart as the cry of love-fused maternity with which she greeted her parents and babies miraculously restored to her.

Human nature in the raw. Human love, human emotion, human heartbreak, human tragedy….  Nothing in these later years causes my temper to slip with greater ease than to hear some smug American fat-head declare what has taken place in Russia, "Oh, but those barbarians!—they naturally go in for riot and bloodshed! We're too civilized for such things to happen in America."

Day after day, week after week, I moved onward among these charmingly simple folk, characters out of Tolstoi, the prototypes in a thousand instances of my people up in New England, subscribers to The Evening Caledonian back in the Green Mountains. Generous to a fault, greeting us Americans with meats, butter, vegetables, refusing time after time to take a cent of payment, I remember them as gentle, inoffensive souls with a hurt look in their big and wistful eyes that any such scourge could have come upon their land. Dead now they are, most of them ….murdered, liquidated by the sword or starvation.



(From The New Liberator, Oct. 1930, by W.D. Pelley)

I had been in a strange state of stupefaction, as it were, in the days immediately following my nocturnal experience in my bungalow. [See Seven Minutes in Eternity] I knew that I had been somewhere and met and talked in a baffling way with entities who the world would consider as "dead." And yet, to go out in the street and proclaim it would only get me branded as an idiot or liar. What had happened to me, so long as I had no way of checking up on it through others, or proving it to others in the developments of circumstance, must always remain as a personal experience, a personal illumination.

I had no mind to take anyone into my confidence about it. In fact, I came out of seclusion with the idea of keeping it forever to myself. I was too upset philosophically, from what I had seen and heard, to do much more than ponder upon it and try to assimilate its astounding significance.

True, something had happened to me physically as a result of it, because I had a small office staff of employees in a Pasadena business in which I was interested who immediately began exclaiming at some elusive alteration in my personal appearance. But autosuggestion, arrived at in sleep, might easily be responsible for such bodily enhancement, so I let them exclaim and applied myself to business.

Finally I decided to get away from California and go to New York. I wanted a perspective on myself and my environment — not to mention the possibility of talking with students of such phenomena and finding out whether or not they could give me interpretation of some phases of cosmology I seemed to have had relayed to me from the Other Side which I believed I had visited. If other people had undergone similar visitations that checked up with mine in detail — as to procedure and the environment visited — then I might begin to credit that my cognizance of Reality had not been self-delusion. Once during an attack of typhoid fever, I had known the seeming reality of delusions and illusions and was not minded to hoax myself when my whole future career might depend on the validity of the episode.

The morning before starting for New York, however, a strange thing happened, which I have already mentioned in previous writings. I was standing in the living room of my bungalow with briar in one hand and tobacco tin in the other. As I started to fill my pipe, something struck the tobacco tin seemingly from beneath. The can spun an arc in the air just above my hands and spilled broadcast along the rug. Contiguous with this uncanny happening, I heard my first clairaudient voice. It said,

"Bill, give up your smoking!”

I looked at the spilled can lying near my feet and felt a weird thrill of fright. Later in the day, when I attempted to draw forth a package of cigarettes, I heard a repetition of the first beseechment. But this thing was notable: that following evening I commenced to have a strange aversion to the taste of tobacco. By the next morning all desire for it had gone and for the ensuing eight months I had not the slightest hunger for it in any form. I might interpolate here that one evening in Manhattan, eight months later, the same Voice that had appealed to me to give up my smoking carne to me in the same manner in the midst of a psychic message and instructed me to send out to the corner drugstore for a packet of cigarettes.

"We think you had better resume smoking," the instruction came. "It seems to open up your subconscious mind by relaxing your nerves and thus you are a better receiving organism. But don't dissipate in nicotine or we will kill the taste for it in you again!" I did as instructed and have been a moderate pipe smoker since.

Leaving Pasadena finally, enroute for New York, I was riding across New Mexico the second night out when my third dramatic experience occurred in the club car. I was alone in the club car about 10:30 at night. All the other passengers had gone back in their berths. Only the porter was present in the buffet getting his affairs closed up for the day. I had put a copy of Emerson in my bag and happened at the moment to be reading his "Over-Soul." I was not asleep, not even drowsy. The car clicked monotonously eastward, eastward.

Suddenly as I turned a page, something happened! I seemed to be bathed in a douche of pure white light on that moving Pullman. A great flood of Revelation came to me out of which a Voice spoke such as I had never heard before. What it said, I prefer to keep permanently to myself. But in that instant I knew that my bungalow experience had not been a dream, or even self-hallucination.

Particularly I knew of the reality of that Entity whom the world now designates as Jesus of Nazareth! I knew that He was not a mythical religious ideal. I knew His ministry and career had been a literal actuality and that I had once seen Him when He was thus in His flesh!

I make this statement guardedly and in full realization of its dramatic import. I knew in those moments in that empty club car that all the emotional reactions I had known during my life about Him up till then had not been delusions of grandeur, nor superiority complexes. Jesus of Nazareth was not afar on some distant golden throne. He was here in a modern world of Pullmans and porters, radio and tabloids, chain shirt shops and talking movies.

I remained inert in that club car till long after the porter was snoring in his berth toward the front of the coach. When I got to my feet and went back to my own berth, I had an entirely new concept of my future activities.

This sounds, I know, like a Messianic Complex. Perhaps many a character since the Palestinian Incarnation of the Master, who has been able to give humanity a new interpretation of that Splendorful Personality, also can be dismissed into the Messianic-Complex classification. No matter! I knew what I knew! And I was calmly content from that night onward to let events take their course, for I had a strange feeling that all would be well if I but kept my pact. This, I might say, has come out literally in fact!

All that had happened, however, had happened to me privately. Still there was nothing that I could present to scientific-minded persons in proof of these two phenomenal episodes. Not that it was necessary to convince others. But all the same, having been a practical newspaperman with a practical newspaperman's outlook on strange fads and "isms", I had no mind to go skewed in my thinking and develop a crack in my reasoning brain.

I rode the rest of the way to New York not doing any reading, for reading was impossible. I watched the landscape in a stupefied daze.

Then, going across Indiana on the New York Central two days later, which happened to fall on a Sunday afternoon, I heard the Clairaudient Voice a third time.

Understand, it did not come to me at my own behest or invitation. On none of the previous occasions had I expected it. So now, when I had reached the place where I dared wonder consciously about the phenomenon in New Mexico, my thought was answered with an audible sentence.

Again it serves no purpose to tell what the question was which I was cogitating upon, or the answer I received. But it was a direct confirmation of the fact that there was a greater significance to my vivid concepts of Jesus throughout childhood and adolescence than mere delusions or Messianic complexes.

I got to New York as a man appalled by what was occurring to him and the work which I seemed bidden to do in interpreting phases of Messianic doctrine which up to that time had been as abstruse to me as to any purblind ecclesiastic. But the last thought in my mind was to tell anyone of these private communications, or make any claims about having contact with the Entities I was being forced to credit from overpowering contact. Neither did I expect at that time that events in circumstance would begin to bear out these prognostications which appalled me.

I got a room at the Commodore and called a lady friend whom I knew to be almost an adept in psychical research and a particularly devout and lovely soul. I apprised her of my being in town and asked if I could visit her in her apartment that evening. The phone conversation ended by her promising to come to the hotel and have dinner with me first.

 I kept the appointment. But here again, I got the outward evidence of queer things afoot when she confronted me in the Commodore's foyer. Her face went blank. She exclaimed,

"For pity's sake, what's happened to you! You're not the same man who went to California a few months ago!"

I smiled away her temporary wonderment and we had our dinner. She persistently questioned me about my experiences since we had last seen one another. Finally, out in the ladies' lounge, I was trapped into telling her of my nocturnal experience.

"My dear boy”, were her well-remembered words, "you got out of your body — unhinged something —  and went somewhere."

 "How do you know?", I demanded.

"In the first place," she said, "the technique of the whole experience checks up perfectly with similar experiences which hundreds of other persons are constantly having. Secondly, I'm psychically aware at this moment of a discarnate entity of particularly beautiful character standing near your shoulder and giving me interpretations of it in complete impressions which I understand perfectly."

“You mean I actually died, that night in Altadena, but returned after death to my physical body?" "Something of the sort. Have you ever done any automatic writing?"

"I've heard of it in a vague way," I said. "But I never saw it actually performed."

"Let's go up to my apartment," she suggested. "Let's prepare to take an automatic message and see if anything confirmatory happens."

 A half-hour later we were settled in a beautiful room in the West Fifties with a cheery fire going in the grate and the New York noises shut out by heavy curtains. My friend had drawn a small taboret table over close to her knees. Now she invited me to sit down on the divan at her right, beside her. Sharpened pencils and a generous pad of paper had been provided. She turned back the cuff on her right wrist and bade me grasp her hand just below her palm.

"Hold it tightly," she instructed, as though to keep me from writing, “but leave your elbow working freely so that my whole hand and arm in conjunction with yours can make swinging penmanship."

I did so. She rested the sharpened pencil point on the pad and leaned back in easy relaxation. Suddenly our two hands started to move in unison. The pencil before us began making rhythmic swings and circles!

It seemed at first as though my lady friend was deliberately making the geometric figures which followed with acceleration as our combined grasp became more and more elastic. Then to my amazement, a long, round, flowing script began to form beneath the pencil, reaching the end of the line and coming back with a flourish to begin a new one. This was what was written :

“Memory is not memory if we must make new thought-bodies when we give up our material bodies. Man will some day know the truth and then we will make real bodies in the image of God. Make no mistake, we are those who are now in the light and we have much to tell you. 'Music of the Spheres' is no idle phrase but the very center of the mystery of the creation of this, your universe!

“Where there is Harmony, there is Life, and all discord is Death. We of the more harmonious plane, which is next above the plane of earth, make this statement to you because you are of that company whose bodies are yet of earth but whose eyes are opened to the perception of the Truth. Many of us are with you, not only at this moment, but in many moments when you are unaware of our presence. We will endeavor to make more power for you in all that you undertake if you will endeavor to open yourselves more completely to our touch.”

That was all! Wait as we would, no more writing appeared on the pad. Yet I knew both from the bodily position of my hostess, as well as from my own grip on her wrist, that she could not have consciously fabricated and written what lay before us on the paper. Moreover, there was so much we both wanted to know, that had it been a subconscious effort, we most certainly would have gone on writing for an indefinite period.

Nothing happened all the next day. But I was back in my psychic friend's apartment promptly at 7:30 the ensuing evening, prepared to try the strange writing again. All this time no other manifestations of the clairaudient voice had come to me personally beyond those reported.

Promptly when we got into working posture that next night, however, the sharpened pencil point started off with vigor. Following is the literal lengthy message we got on the second evening of our experimenting, without a word or punctuation mark changed. I might say that I carefully preserved every scrap of paper, and for almost two years have taken care of every word of Intelligence which has come over thus — or in any sitting at which I have been present —transcribing it carefully and filing it for future reference. [see the Master Message, Call Me Not Master]


 (Speech honoring Mr. Pelley delivered by Mel Pearson to the Hamilton County Historical Society, August 17, 1997)

Thank you for that nice introduction.

Right at the outset I want to thank you for inviting me to make a presentation about my father-in-law, William Dudley Pelley. He was and is a controversial figure as we all know, and members of the family are always happy to have the opportunity of clearing up some of the misunderstandings, misrepresentations and distortions that surround his life.

I also want to state that I am happy and comfortable to be part of this law enforcement history program. Over the years Mr. Pelley and his family had many contacts with law enforcement personnel and generally we found them to be professional in their conduct and people of integrity. Mr. Pelley had a special relationship with the U. S. marshals, especially in Washington, D. C. They had mutual respect for each other. I remember a Captain Kidwell of the District of Columbia law enforcement personnel who wrote a letter to the Parole Board stating that they never considered Mr. Pelley an inmate, but considered him an associate. That was a pretty good relationship.

I will try to be as brief as I can so as to leave room for questions and answers. I find such exchange is always more productive than simply listening to a speaker.

I might note right at the outset that when Mr. Pelley moved to Noblesville in 1940, one of the local papers, reflecting quite a flagrant point of view that existed throughout the land, stated that there were four major roads out of the city and Pelley and his ilk were invited to depart on any one of them. Some ten years later, when he was released from prison, he was invited to speak at one of the Service Clubs and the report one heard was that the listeners found Mr. Pelley a most intriguing and charming individual. Later the Ledger dispatched a reporter who visited with Mr. Pelley for a whole afternoon and the paper then carried a front page feature article as to his background and publishing. At a later time I had occasion to talk to the then chief of police, Mr. Shoat. He characterized Mr. Pelley as just a "radical Republican."

Time does have a way of healing, and increased knowledge has a way of eliminating prejudices and changing people's viewpoints.

In order to be brief I will divide Mr. Pelley's full life into three areas:

First, there are his literary achievements which led him to get national recognition as a short story writer and novelist.

Second, there are the years primarily during the 1930s when Mr. Pelley was engaged in his economic and political writings which, of course, made him so controversial. It was also the time of his legal difficulties when he was arrested, convicted of the political crime of "sedition", making him perhaps the outstanding political prisoner of this century.

Third, after his release from federal prison in 1950 after serving seven and a half years, Mr. Pelley spent the remainder of his life until he passed away in 1965 writing metaphysical books and publishing several esoteric magazines.

Let us now consider each of these major sections of Mr. Pelley's life:

His literary career: Most people are quite astounded to find that Mr. Pelley had over 250 short stories published in the best magazines of the time. They appeared in Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, Colliers and other so-called slick magazines. He was a constant contributor to The American Magazine.

He won the "O. Henry Memorial Award" for the best short story in the nation for two different years. Several times his stories appeared among the best short stories of the year as edited by Edward J. O'Brien.

Along with his short stories he managed to write a half dozen novels, two of which were made into movies. One book was the "Fog" which was published by Little Brown and Co. and sold nearly a half million copies. The other book was called "Drag". This took him to Hollywood where he was scenario writer for a number of movies.

He became acquainted with many of the stars of that day, such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, William Boyd and others. His closest friend was Lon Chaney who many of you may remember starred in the "Hunchback of Notre Dame." My wife, Adelaide [Pelley's daughter], tells of his lifting her onto his lap, placing a couple of chocolate cup wrappers in his eyes and making a little horror show for her alone.

It was because of his writing achievements that high dignitaries of the Methodist Church contracted Mr. Pelley to travel around the world to make an assessment of foreign missions. When he arrived in Japan, Bolshevism was taking over Russia and the United States had joined with other countries in what was known as the Siberian Intervention. Mr. Pelley dropped his writing assignment, joined the American forces, was given a military ranking of second lieutenant, and traveled some 5,000 miles into Russia on the Siberian railway where he witnessed firsthand the bloody takeover of Communism.

The experience left an indelible scar on his mind and soul and was to have much influence in his later stand against the recognition of Stalinist Russia during the 1930s.   .

Up to this time Mr. Pelley had not engaged himself in political writings of any kind. However, that was to drastically change. It came about when the studio he was working for gave him the writing assignment on a short that was being made for the State Department. This took him to Washington where he became a close friend of Bob Sharp of the Secret Service who was really his boss when he was traveling in Russia. He also became a good friend of Dr. Strath Gordon who was at one time the head of the British Secret Service. These two men, along with Congressman Louis T. McFadden, who was chairman of the House Banking committee, were alarmed with what was transpiring in the U. S. in the way of destroying the independence of the American people.

While Communism was being forced on the Russian people by terror and murder, a much more subtle thing was happening in America. It was a process of "government by reaction". Powerful economic and financial entities were creating the severe economic and financial conditions making it natural for government to step in with all of its relief and subsidy programs, all to the end of the people losing their independence. It created condition of one-third of the people ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-housed. Over 15 million people were unemployed.

Pelley was moved to drop all his lucrative fictional writing and commence exposing what was transpiring. Central to his effort was opposing the United States recognition of Stalinist Russia. It was to no avail. He also wrote most strongly of the steps that were leading the United States into war. His strong belief, along with those who made up the "America First Committee", who had such prominent supporters as Charles Lindbergh, was that the United States should remain neutral and thus could be a real influence for peace after the European countries worked hard to destroy themselves.

It was during this time that Mr. Pelley wrote a book called No More Hunger which outlined economic and political change that would unleash the nation's full productive capability, implement all basic human rights, and would create a nation free of debt and violence. To promote the change that he advocated he brought into being an organization called the Silver Legion. Unfortunately, the members became known as Silver Shirts and this made it easy for those who wanted to suppress Mr. Pelley's thinking to unfairly link the organization to European shirt organizations.

Incidentally, I am presenting you with a copy of "No More Hunger" and a copy of a companion book that I recently wrote called "There Is A Way!"

Our entrance into World War II set the stage for Mr. Pelley being arrested in 1942 and charged with violating the wartime sedition act, called the Espionage Act of 1917. It was but routine to get a conviction. Since we were allied with Russia, all Mr. Pelley's anti-communist writings were presented as undermining the loyalty of the American soldier in our combined leadership. He was denied all his basic constitutional rights of due process for subpoenaing witnesses and presenting evidence. Congressman Thorkelson of Montana and Charles Lindbergh were the only prominent people allowed to testify in Mr. Pelley's defense, and their testimony was severely limited.

Prominent constitutional attorneys who became interested in Mr. Pelley's trial and conviction exclaimed openly that he had been crucified. But those intent on silencing Mr. Pelley weren't satisfied. Within the year of his 15-year sentence, Mr. Pelley was shackled and taken to Washington, D. C. to be included in the Mass Sedition Trial. Some 30 writers and publishers, all opposed in varying degrees to the Administration's economic and war policies, were indicted on a basis of conspiracy to violate the peacetime sedition Act called the Smith Act.

Both the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Smith Act had the same provisions. The same evidence that was used against Mr. Pelley in Indianapolis was now introduced at the Mass Sedition Trial. This was a flagrant violation of the constitutional provision of "double jeopardy" prohibiting any person from being twice tried for the same offense.

After the prosecution had spent several million dollars, making special trips to Germany trying to link the defendants to Nazism and failing to collect any real evidence, Chief Justice Laws of the District Court in Washington, D. C., dismissed the whole case by stating that it would be a "travesty on justice to permit the case to go on any longer." The defendants had endured six years of being charged with an unprovable case.

Books have been written as to the illegality of the sedition charges against the 30 defendants, including Mr. Pelley, but I would like to quote from an editorial in the Washington Times-Herald written by it chief editorial writer, Frank C. Waldrop called “The Cheapest Act”. [quote omitted to save space here]

So ended the infamous Mass Sedition Trial. It seemed but routine to get a reversal on Mr. Pelley's conviction in Indianapolis in 1942. Mr. Pelley's attorney immediately filed a writ of habeas corpus in the Federal District Court of Indianapolis. The basis of the writ was to cite the three important Supreme Court Decisions that were the basis of Judge Law's dismissal of the Mass Sedition Case, and were made subsequent to Mr. Pelley's conviction in Indianapolis. The three cases were:

1) The Viereck case in which the Supreme Court reversed the conviction because of the inflammatory and prejudicial language used by the federal prosecutors. In Mr. Pelley's case the prosecutors had inflamed the jury by likening him to Benedict Arnold and a traitor to his nation.

2) The Baumgartner case in which the Supreme Court underscored First Amendment Rights, that they weren't shelved just because of involvement in war.

3) The third case and the most important was the Hartzell Case which the Supreme Court reversed citing the two basic elements that must 'e present in order to get a sustainable conviction. Those elements were:

a) An element of intent which meant that the defendant intended to cause the harm that was being prevented by the statute.

b) An element of clear and present danger which meant the actions of the defendant did bring about the harm stated by the statute.

As soon as the Writ of Habeus Corpus was filed in Indianapolis, attorneys for the Justice Department filed a brief stating that the Indianapolis Court, despite the fact that it was the court of original trial, did not have jurisdiction because Mr. Pelley was physically in Washington where he had been held during the Mass Trial.

Immediately Mr. Pelley's attorney filed a similar Writ of Habeus Corpus in the Washington Court and, incredible as it might seem, attorneys for the Justice Department filed a brief contending that the Washington Court didn't have jurisdiction because, although Mr. Pelley was physically in Washington, he was only there technically by the court order of a writ of habeus corpus ad prosequendam.

The Justice Department had so arranged Mr. Pelley's confinement that they had succeeded in denying him one of his most sacred constitutional rights, and that is access to the courts. Where is due process when you don't have any court that will hear your pleading? What about the constitutional provision that the writ of habeus corpus shall not be suspended?

Since I was president of the Justice for Pelley Committee it was suggested by our attorney that I approach the Justice Department and see if they would join in a stipulation agreeing that one of the courts must have jurisdiction. I presented the idea to a Mr. Morris, who was an assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, and I experienced what is properly called "arrogance of power". He looked at me and said, "Who in the hell do you think you are? I must tell you, we are resorting to dilatory tactics and we'll resort to all the damn dilatory tactics we want to!"

I responded just as adamantly that he wasn't even aware of his oath of office to protect and defend the laws of the land by deliberately denying a citizen his constitutional right of access to the courts and due process. And the Department of Justice was consistent in its arbitrary actions.

We, of course, filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court, which was in due time denied. At the same time I contacted John O'Donnell, columnist for the Washington Times-Herald and the New York News. In his column, "Capitol Stuff'” he wrote the following: (quote omitted to save space here)

It should be noted that Mr. Pelley was entitled to be released on parole after serving one-third of his sentence if he had a good behavior record. His behavior record was outstanding. At Terre Haute he not only conducted a Great Book program for the prisoners, but he wrote speeches for the warden and directed the putting together of a pictorial book of the Terre Haute Penitentiary which was considered to be the model institution in the nation. On one of my trips to Washington I visited the Bureau of Prisons building and had the opportunity to look over the book which was on a pedestal in the main entrance. When Mr. Bennett, head of the Bureau of Prisons, found that I was present, he took time to tell me how much they appreciated the professional job Mr. Pelley had done in putting together the book. In the Washington District Jail he reorganized the check-in system of the new prisoners, earning the gratitude of the U. S. Marshals by saving them hours of waiting.

The matter of jurisdiction was resolved by the Justice Department moving Mr. Pelley back to the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute.

Let it suffice to state that all the legal actions to get the Indianapolis conviction reversed met with no success. Each court contended that his case had been adjudicated. With his release on parole, spearheaded by the efforts of Senator Langer of North Dakota, Mr. Pelley was finally released and there was little reason to pursue costly legal action any further. At its best a favorable action by a court would simply confirm that Mr. Pelley had only been a political prisoner.

An interesting thing to note is that when I contacted former Senator Jim Watson of Indiana, whom I understand was this state's most powerful political figure in Washington, he immediately sent a letter to Judge Baltzell who had presided at Mr. Pelley's trial, and asked him to write a letter to the Parole Board asking for Mr. Pelley's release. Mr. Watson gave me the letter he received from Baltzell which stated that the sentencing judge had only meant to keep Mr. Pelley in prison during the duration of World War II.

I am giving you a booklet that I wrote called The Price of Truth which covers in much more detail Mr. Pelley's legal difficulties.

On Valentine's Day, February 14, Mr. Pelley arrived back in Noblesville where he was to remain until his death in 1965. During those years he busied himself in writing many metaphysical books and organizing the other writings which covered many years. A complete set of 12 volumes were finished and he wrote a number of books making up a total list of over 20 volumes which he called the Soulcraft philosophy. At the same time during those years we published several esoteric magazines, one of which had a four-color cover. Our mailing was of such volume as to increase the rating of the local post office.

I hope that I haven't spoken too long. Let me close with these few remarks:

The legacy left by Mr. Pelley has nothing to do with his activities dealing with governmental abuses, the exploitive operations of economic and financial corporate giants, or even his efforts toward peace with his opposition to Stalinist communism. The real legacy is two-fold:

First, his blueprinting of a New Economic Order, which he called "The "Christian Commonwealth", which if embraced by the people would unleash the full productive potential of this nation, provide for an abundant life for every solitary individual, and build a nation of true economic justice devoid of debt and violence.

The second legacy is his writing of over 20 volumes presenting a working philosophy of life which he called "Soulcraft", or craft of the soul, which has helped tens of thousands of people over the years to find ballast and meaning in their lives in an ever-increasingly violent and unstable world.

Mr. Pelley clearly stated that the Soulcraft philosophy was not meant as a substitute for anyone else's religion. It was only meant to enhance a person's own particular religious persuasion.

Those are my concluding words. I would now gladly entertain any questions that any of you might have.

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