It's All In The Game
by A. Charles Corotis


It's All In The Game: A selected Collection of Gay Essays
on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Mnemosyne,
Assayed from the Provocative Pages of
New Jersey's Literate Review Weekly, The Argus

By A. Charles Corotis



MILLIONS of beautiful Xmas trees formed a coniferous vista covering rolling countryside like a bright green mansard as far as the eye could see. It was a stirringly impressive sight, and I told him so, the old gentleman at my side, proud as Punch of this hobby of his. Henry Jeffers was one of the kindliest, most interesting men I've ever known, and some of my fondest recollections are of hours spent in his company.

That great fir factory spread over many miles of south­western Pennsylvania was perhaps the least of his many and varied accomplishments, although it took second place to none in his personal preference. The first time I met him, on his neat, meticulous Walker-Gordon dairy at Plainsboro, he told me of his woodlands up around Kingsley near Harford, his birthplace.

I was inspecting the "Rotolactor" at the time; the 100-ton carousel without music that takes cows on a twelve-min­ute merry-go-ride, washing, drying and milking them in the process. Mr. Jeffers had invented the rotary milking ma­chine for his pet bovine, Elsie. I had admired it at the World's Fair a few years before. And now here it was in this beautiful farm outside Princeton, and I was receiving a course in its intricacies from the inventor himself.

I knew Henry Jeffers by repute as president of Walker-Gordon, as an ingenious pioneer who had produced such progressive advances in dairying as the Jeffers Bacteriology Counter and Jeffers Feed Calculator. I knew him, too, as a bank director in Princeton, a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, president of the State Board of Regents and chairman of the Republican State Committee.

It was this last which intrigued me most at the moment, for I was head over heels in a political campaign, one in which Mr. Jeffers, I felt, could play a most important part.

Alex Smith, the austere Princetonian, was making his first bid for election to the United States Senate. The Democratic nominee opposing him was Elmer Wene. I was in charge of Wene's publicity.

Mr. Jeffers had given up the GOP state chairmanship and, I was given to understand, had absolutely no love whatso­ever for Alex Smith. Further, he was one of the state's top agriculturists, and I had reason to suspect he would be kindly disposed toward the candidacy of the Vineland poultryman.

So I went to Plainfield to visit with Mr. Jeffers, conscious of the value of a statement from the recent Republican State chairman in behalf of the Democratic candidate.

I got the statement ultimately, but it took several visits and many pleasurable hours in the prodigal company of Mr. Jeffers before he consented—for which I've always been grate­ful. For the delay, I mean. Pleasant are the memories of meetings and parties at Plainsboro, and on the Jeffers farms over Pennsylvania way. I think he had twenty in all, there in rug­ged Susquehanna county.

Wene lost the election, despite Mr. Jeffers' considerable help, thanks to a double-x by one Frank Hague. Perhaps double-cross is too strong a term to use in this instance. The Boss didn't really do in Wene deliberately; he simply sacrificed him on the altar of a larger mission, at least as he saw it.

That was the year Walter Edge was trying to revise the State Constitution, and the question was on the general election ballot. Hague was firmly convinced its approval by the people would deal irreparable damage to the Democratic party. It may be recalled that some years later, when Edge's successor, Governor Driscoll, put through revision, conces­sions were made to the Democracy to overcome its objections.

Anyway, Hague made defeat of the Edge revision a crusade, and he told me very frankly that he didn't give a hoot in Hades about Wene or any other candidate that year; the all important thing was to lick revision. Otherwise the party was out of business.

Hague did lick revision, by the simple expedient of throwing his candidates down the trade rivers. The Bergen county results were a case in point: the referendum just about broke even there, but Smith carried it by 80,000 votes —and that was before the days of uncovered corruption and tremendous majorities out of Bergen. What happened was obvious enough: the Bergen Demmie leadership concentrated on the fight against revision, didn't push Wene, while the GOP ignored revision and put all its efforts behind Smith. A cozy, convenient arrangement all around.

It was the same in other counties that Hague could manipulate. With it all, Wene came within a hair's breadth of winning. He seems to have a penchant for being caught in such situations: he'd have licked Driscoll in 1949 and become governor had he not been betrayed by John Kenny in the since exposed bi-partisan Dickerson deal.

Poor Elmer—always in the right place at the wrong time.

Well, I've thought of all this since news of Mr. Jeffers' death in Princeton Hospital. He was up in years—I know he was past seventy in those days about which I'm reminiscing—and they go back a decade. But he was a remarkably keen man. I can see him yet, receiving my enthusiastic acclamations about Elsie and her Rotolactor toy with quiet modesty, blurting out suddenly: "You ought to see my Christmas trees."

"I'd love to," I assured him, and shortly I did, and it was a weekend I'll never forget. Neither shall I forget Henry Jeffers. One encounters too few men of his stature in this prosaic old meandering through life.

Soiree in Caelion

It seemed passing strange that the aerial phenomenon should have occurred, there in the northern sky, on the night of July 15, the holiday sacred to Castor and Pollux. They're the sons of Jupiter himself, and, after the Argonautic expedi­tion, were slain in the war with Idas and Lynceus, whereupon Jove placed them among the stars as Gemini, the Twins. So, at least, legend has it.

In case you wonder how Zeus came to have mortal sons, mythology is full of the earthly and earthy goings-on of the boss-man of all the gods who frequently left his throne high up on Mount Olympus in Thessaly and, much to Juno's chagrin, awooing went.

The old boy was not one to worry about constancy, nor did he pay much heed to the words of antiquity's philosophers. Certainly he defied Aristotle's warning: "In an irra­tional being the desire for pleasure is insatiable even if it tries every source of gratification, and the exercise of ap­petite increases its innate force."

Similarly he must have spurned such advice as Agathon's: "Look not round at the depraved morals of the others, but run straight along the line without deviating from it." And Theophrastus: "The offenses which are committed through desire are more blamable than those which are committed through anger, for the one is compelled by pain, but the other is moved by one's own impulse to do wrong."

"The ways of the moral man," Confucius said, "are un­obtrusive and yet they grow more and more in power and evidence; whereas the ways of the vulgar person are ostentatious but lose more and more in influence until they perish and disappear."

Epicurus found that pleasure is not a bad thing in itself, but insisted the means which produce it often bring with them disturbances many times greater than the pleasures.

"Vice may be had in abundance without trouble," observed Hesiod; "the way is smooth and her dwelling-place is near. But before virtue the gods have set toil."

Equally challenging, Plutarch declared: "How mad a thing human nature is when once possessed with any pas­sion .... The better pleasures gained in successful action and effort leave the baser appetites no time or place."

Well, if Jupe heard such words, he chose to ignore them. Varied were the disguises he wore for his excursions into immortal immorality: to Leda he was a swan, and following frequent visits from Cygnus emerged not only Castor and Pollux but beauteous Helen, she whose flight with the shep­herd Paris from Sparta precipitated the Trojan War, theme of the greatest poems of antiquity: Homer's and Virgil's.

To deceive Europa, daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor, Zeus assumed the form of a bull—remember Ten­nyson's "Sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasp'd, from off her shoulder backward borne: from one hand droop'd a crocus; one hand grasp'd the mild bull's golden horn." Minos, Rha-damanthus and Sarpedon came eventually of that stunt.

Danae's father, Acrisius, king of Argos, imprisoned her in a tower of brass to foil Jupiter, but the god effected his entrance into the brazen tomb in the form of a golden shower. Result: Perseus, conqueror of the Gorgon monster Medusa.

Jealous Juno banished Latona to Delos, a rock in the Aegean Sea, and there the daughter of the Titans presented Jove with Apollo and Diana, the sun god and moon goddess.

Ill-fated lo, daughter of the river god Inachus, was turned into a heifer and guarded by Argus, sentinel of the heavens, until rescued by Mercury; then Hera forced her to flee over the whole world, roaming the plains of Illyria, as­cending Mt. Haemus, crossing the Thracian Strait and swim­ming the Ionian Sea to which she gave her name. Her dis­guise and flight evidently kept her occupied, for there is no record of issue.

But there were others: Maia, mother of winged Mercury . . . Dione, whose daughter was the ravishing Venus . . . Al-cimena, who bore the mighty Hercules . . . Semele, mother of fun-loving Bacchus . . . Aegena, who produced Aeacus . . . Callistondo, who with her son Areas became the never-setting Great and Little Bear carrying Cynosure the Pole-star in their tail, were among goddesses and nymphs of mor­tal mold alike who helped Zeus while away the hours when he wasn't ruling Hellas or Rome.

Then, of course, there was Mnemosyne, with whom Jove's extra-marital relations produced the Muses: Calliope, muse of epic poetry; Clic, of history; Euterpe, of lyric poetry; Melpomene, of tragedy; Terpsichore, choral dance and song; Erato, love-poetry; Polyhymnia, sacred poetry; Urania, astrology; Thalia, comedy.

Well, pardon my Bullfinch! How'd I get involved in that? Oh, yes—the Dioscuri. I don't know whether or not you were outside sometime past midnight that particular Wednesday, but if you happened to be floating on a lake in a canoe as a heat-escape device, with millions of twinkling stars forming a gold-specked canopy overhead, you couldn't have missed it.

Luckless Orion, slain by Phoebe's fatal love, fated since to pursue the Pleiades through the sky, was following his scheduled course, when suddenly a brilliant light swept the heavens like Phaeton's fiery ride of desolation. The Valky-rios might have set forth on one of their borealic missions, flashing across the northern skies in quest of new blood for Valhalla. Or it could have been something akin to flying saucers—and I don't mean the kind Joe Joh saw when he thrust a probing finger at the waitress.

Whatever the cause, the result was a display that momen­tarily rivaled The Bulletin's brilliant Independence Day fireworks fete champetre which in turn was by far the great­est presentation of man-made pyrotechnics I've seen in forty-odd years of faithful viewing—and that includes the annual dillies Hammonton used to put on in the days of my youth in Berlin. I never tire of those melanges of prismatic pro­jectiles—I love 'em.

That Fairmount Park festival offered some spectacularly new and terrific features that eclipse all past oh-and-ah eliciters, but it still lacked the sheer majesty and dramatics of that unexpected, unexplained shaft of brilliance that swept the heavens. It was a picturesque month, July.


Ablett Village, the political housing project peopled largely by city employees, had to install its own police force in an effort to curb vandalism. This is the same place where a husband and wife were jailed for using their tax-supported apartment as a sin-den for teen-agers. The police blotters are full of Ablett Village addresses .... Average income on Labor Day was 21% higher than before the Korean war, twice the increase in the cost of living during that period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which places both earnings and employment at record highs. A total of 63,408,000 at work .... America's antibiotic industry pro­duced     1,320,000    pounds    of    life-saving    drugs    worth $150,000,000 last year .... Some character named Calvin Hoffman now is trying to prove Shakespeare's works were written by Christopher Marlowe. These jerks are as screwy as the professors who insist a curve ball doesn't break .... Sep­tember  13 will go down in video history as a landmark. That night the world's two great glamour pusses, Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner, made their TV debut: for $7500 and $5000 respectively .... Now that we've rid the airways of Bill Stern, can't we do something about Jack Drees? He alone saw Henry Davis blocking those sharp jolting straight rights of Johnny Gonsalves that won the Oakland flash a unanimous decision. So unschooled is Drees in fisticuffs that he calls a right cross a hook! And Jimmy Powers—the first we knew Charley Riley's eye had been cut by Glen Flanagan was several rounds later when the doc climbed into the ring to examine it, and found it too grievous a wound to permit the bout to go on. Can't these birds understand that it's such information as that we want, not their opinion of the action which we can see for ourselves? . . . Truck drivers blame the owners' high pressure schedules for highballing along the highways in disregard alike of speed limits and the wel­fare of mere motorcars. Does that account for the seeming immunity they enjoy in New Jersey? . . . Take it from a critical critic, From Here To Eternity is all it's cracked up to be .... Shades of Al Jolson and Ruth Etting! Have you heard what Sinatra does to "It All Depends On You"? Incidentally, they're filming the fabulous career of that lovely thrush who was my generation's answer to Dinah Shore. Good news .... Cadillac is shedding its fishtails .... Have you heard Merrill Moore beat out the "House of Blue Lights"? Somep'n .... Como has recorded "That Old Gang of Mine," nicely and tenderly .... I saw Bob Trice's mound debut with the A's and thought him one of the most likely looking prospects I've seen in a long time. A natural ball player with graceful ease and fluidity of motion, he handles himself with the confidence and poise of a. veteran. Good to see Philly's color bar removed .... Welcome comebacks: Connee Boswell, bringing with her "I'm Gonna' Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" .... I could learn to like the Jane Froman program if Susan Hayward stood in for her and Jane's voice was dubbed in a la the movie .... Doris Day was never so sweetly mellifluous as when she does "I Didn't Know What Time It WTas" .... Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun" has become "Afternoon Dream," and in the ten­der hands of Gordon Jenkins and Stewart Foster retains its beauty .... The Hill toppers have brought back "Love Walked In," smoothly and rhythmically .... The Mariners have a lilting version of "I Just Want You". . . . Buddy Grecco does a pleasant job in 3-4 time to "Don't Tell Me Goodbye."


Did you get a good look at the mountainous cloud forma­tions that completely girdled the earth like Saturn's rings before the rains came September 4th? A majestically beauti­ful sight. How I'd love to have been in a plane looking down on those fleecy fields .... Did you see where Harry Stuhldreher says football players are better today? More in­telligent, he opines. Well, far be it from me to pit my opin­ions against one of Rockne's famed "Four Horsemen," but how many contemporary gridders are reckoned all-time greats? .... Lazing by the lovely Berkeley-Carteret pool the other Sunday, I couldn't help thinking how closely I've been linked by past events with this newly decorated and much beautified hotel. I was the first in the pool when it was com­pleted several years ago. Toni Kieb and I were the first to use the reopened Berkeley after the British Navy evacuted it in 1946. And it was here that Ross, then four, told me accus­ingly he was staying at a hotel "for the first time in his whole life" .... Kids are something these days. Ross came to his mother, bedded by a bug, and reported: "Helen has baked a cake for us, but she used our ingredients" .... Caught one of Godfrey's telecasts from his farm in Virginia. I can share his enthusiasm for the Blue Ridge mountain country. I thought the noises of nature in the background stole the show: crickets chirping, birds twittering, dogs barking. I found Godfrey and Frank Parker's discourse on how it feels to be fifty heartening, too, convinced as I am that Kurt Weill wrote his wonderful "September Song" just for me. Neither looks nor acts it .... Parker, it seems to me, is a clever enter­tainer in his own right, although harried in his attempts at philosophizing by Archie Blyer's teasing penchant for break­ing into the strains of "Hearts and Flowers" whenever he became serious. As for Arthur—well, he wanted to go to Paris because buxom Sophie Tucker was opening an engagement there. Presumably at the Folies Bergere! Add synonyms: as incongruous as little Lu Ann Sims singing "If I Could Be With You.".