MENCKEN AS BOSS
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter focuses on the influence a popular president like Franklin D. Roosevelt had on the press, and the danger of journalists' reliance on White House handouts and propaganda. To mitigate this, Mencken became editor of the Baltimore Evening Sun. His tireless energy and daily denunciation of FDR not only stressed out the staff, but also himself. Mencken was also concerned over stories coming out of Hitler's Berlin, and decided to go there to see for himself what exactly was going on. He was convinced that the negative stories he heard were the same kind of propaganda he witnessed during World War I.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was said, had three things going for him: a great name, a great voice, and a great smile. With these gifts, he made masterful use of the media changes then sweeping the country. If he had followed the precedent set by Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge, he would have avoided the newspapermen. Instead, four days after his first inauguration, he began a procedure that he soon elevated to an art form—the press conference.
The president would grin broadly, lean back in his armchair, take a cigarette from his case, light it, puff leisurely, and greet reporters with a “Well, boys, and how are you today?” One British newspaperman described the atmosphere “like that of a gathering of friends for a friendly chat.” Nicknames and first names were used and exchanges were sprightly and humorous, leaving some of the reporters, already sympathetic to New Deal policies, in an absolute glow.
But Mencken was preoccupied not just by Roosevelt's management of the media, or even the fact that correspondents—after being invited to the White House for clambakes, baseball games, and picnic lunches—were forging personal relationships with the president. In his estimation the practice ruined reportorial objectivity. As the Wall Street Journal put it: “A man would be less than human [after all this] if he did not feel kindly disposed toward the Master of the New Deal.”
The New Deal publicity system particularly irked Mencken. Under Roosevelt, Washington became the world's most important news center. Before he occupied the White House, there was a tendency to cut down the size of administration staffs dealing with the major newspapers and press associations. (p. 438 ) But the New Deal, with its surfeit of information, changed all that. The National Recovery Act, for instance, manufactured news at a rate almost too fast for daily newspapers and wire services to handle. Established government departments such as Interior, Treasury, and Justice had become hot sources of news. The government's new press agents stepped in, many of them former journalists who were adept at writing copy. They shoveled out mimeographed handouts that were converted into stories in newspapers under Washington datelines that often won public support for New Deal programs.
Newspapermen were relying more and more on the handouts, which, as Arthur Krock of the New York Times pointed out, though useful did not tell the whole story. Despite the best efforts of some correspondents to look beyond the official versions, a study showed that Roosevelt's attempts to set the agenda worked extremely well. The administration's publicists also strove to close off hitherto open news sources. Roosevelt had become, as some called him, “the Master Manipulator.”
The situation that confronted newspapers of the country was daunting. Mencken wrote a memo to publisher Paul Patterson: “The primary aim of the Sunpapers, both in their news columns and on their editorial pages, must be simply and solely to tell the truth … for we confront a high development of government propaganda…. Every public official with large powers in his hands should be held in suspicion until he proves his case, and we should keep him at all times in a glare of light.” This had been the general policy of the Sunpapers ever since Mencken had written the White Paper in 1920. When it came to free speech, Mencken confessed to a friend, “I believe in it now more than I did in my early days.”1
Mencken had long urged Patterson to remedy a palpable lack of ideas that was damaging the Sunpapers and making its editorial page so banal. As a result, Mencken was persuaded to drop his column and take over the editorial page for three months.
Before taking the helm, Mencken wrote a letter to each member of the staff, stating how much he was counting on him for scintillating ideas, assuring that “it will be pleasant to return, if only temporarily, to the editorial page where I first disported in 1910.” Thus, even before he began, editorial writer R. P. Harriss commented, Mencken “started off making you feel that you were close to him.” This was a boon to the demoralized group, already nervously speculating as to the real reasons for the reorganization. Even so, it was an unhappy period for the writers on both papers who felt that Mencken's Toryism would probably be hard to bear.
It took Mencken only a few days to assess the staff. To his disappointment, he discovered he did not have the men to revive the kind of editorial page he had in mind. As amiable as Mencken found them to be, he thought their individual talents third-rate for the requirements of the editorial page, with writing that was unimaginative and useless. Mencken later thus summarized his findings: an (p. 439 ) editorial writer, he wrote, was: “(a) a man who could write with some eloquence, (b) one who has sound information, and is always hunting for more, and (c) one who is not ashamed to be indignant.” If an editorial could not arouse a reaction in the reader, it was “worthless.”
Determined to make the editorial page less somber so that it was not only read but talked about, Mencken made a series of changes. Within 24 hours, R. P. Harriss jotted in his diary, Mencken “began making the place spin round and round.” One of his first acts was to redesign the book page. It was given a checklist of new books, as it had been during his days at the American Mercury. Mencken also changed the overall typesetting, abolished the rule that there had to be a set number of editorials each day, and made use of large and bold illustrations, some of them maps, line drawings, even an eight-column cartoon. A quotation was printed under the masthead each day, out of the immense stock Mencken had been accumulating for his New Dictionary of Quotations, under such rubrics as Democracy, Government, Free Speech, and Free Press, all of them subjects on which Mencken held strong personal views. Soon the whole office was agog.
By far the most revolutionary change was Mencken's new schedule. “Under Hamilton Owens the work put into the editorial page had been reduced to a luxurious minimum,” Mencken later explained. There had been a daily editorial conference at 9 a.m., followed by a series of brief editorials written in a matter of minutes and submitted to the composing room by 10:30. After the first edition appeared, the copyboy brought in a tray of coffee and buns, and the writers relaxed and read their pieces.
“I had this beautiful scheme of editing without pain wrecked in two days,” Mencken recalled. He abolished the daily editorial conference and saw all the editorial writers individually before they set to work. If he did not like their idea, he tried to substitute another. When an idea was approved, Mencken saw to it that it was given careful and thorough treatment, and not merely dashed off. “This, of course,” reflected Mencken, “usually made it impossible to finish the job by 10:30, and so the gentlemen of the staff began to suffer the novelty of working in the afternoons, and what is more, working hard.”2
Mencken began his tenure as editor full of bounce. At ten o'clock Mencken would proudly don his beer jacket and, staff in tow, descend to the composing room to make up the editorial page. Most of the printers, awed by his presence, accorded him great deference, except for old Nick, who had known Henry since his youth and who treated him familiarly as if he were a bright but wayward schoolboy. Yet, it seems that none of them, not even Nick, was prepared for what came next.
To bring home to the ordinary man the enormity of the New Deal largesse and the scope of the federal dole, Mencken had hit upon the idea of presenting his message in the form of a graphic illustration, under the title of “object lesson.” Six of the seven columns were filled with black dots, over a million in all, representing “the Federal Government's immense corps of job-holders.”
(p. 440 ) The screen used was so fine that to some subscribers it simply looked like a large gray area, and they besieged the paper with complaints that day and the following. To Mencken's delight, “Object Lesson” attracted national attention and was quoted across the country in magazines ranging from Time to Printer's Ink. “Many of these Federal job-holders, we fear,” one paper editorialized, “do as little work as Mr. Mencken's corps of editorial writers did on that particular day.”
The ensuing publicity inevitably focused attention on the Evening Sun's editorial page. As the weeks passed, its innovations were universally praised; Mencken, stated the Kansas City Journal-Post, has “violated the basic journalistic law that editorial pages should be profound, self-consciously serious—and extraordinarily dull.”
Mencken's next stunt was to print the longest editorial in journalistic history. By his personal order, the entire page was to be devoted to a single subject: “Five Years of the New Deal.” It was to begin in the upper left-hand corner of the page and not end until it reached the lower right-hand corner. The task fell to Philip Wagner and Gerald Johnson, who did a conscientious job of reviewing critically, but fairly, the negative side of the Roosevelt administration. To their dismay, Mencken rewrote much of the piece, concluding that there was only one idea running through “the sorry farce from the rise of the curtain in 1933 to the present depressing scene.” The New Deal, Mencken concluded, “teaches that whoever is getting on in the world is a suspicious character, and whoever is left behind is a hero and a martyr.”
The general effect of the comments, R. P. Harriss grumbled in his diary, was to produce an editorial that was “grossly unfair and full of Tory venom…. Wagner, who had worked very hard to produce a sound review of the administration, was depressed over the way Mencken handled it.” Wagner classified the editorial as “awful,” adding, “Fortunately, [Mencken] has sprinkled characteristic adjectives and a fine spray of abuse all over the part I wrote, so that my share of the undertaking is perfectly concealed.”
It did not take long for members of the staff to note that their editorial page had become largely a one-man show. Some thought that articles by Gerald Johnson, who did not conceal his admiration for Roosevelt, were often kept out of the paper because of that, though he was permitted to write his own rebuttal to “Five Years of the New Deal” under a four-column head: “On the Profit Side: A Reply to the Huge Editorial.” The rebuttal evoked more interest and was reprinted in more papers than the original article, though Mencken thought it feeble stuff. After a while, Mencken gave Johnson no more assignments. “Instead, I let him write whatever he pleased, and then picked out the little that was printable.”
Apparently sensing revolt among a staff of fervent New Dealers, Mencken called a general meeting. He reiterated his plans. These, Harriss privately reflected, seemed oriented to one sole aim: “to fill the Evening Sun editorial columns with long-winded venomous attacks on Mr. Roosevelt.” The more the editorial writers listened to Mencken, the more alarmed they got. From then on, (p. 441 ) Mencken told them, few if any editorials were to be written in the morning. He opposed the Hamilton Owens system of many short, pertinent comments on “spot news.” This made for snap judgments and errors, he argued. Instead, Mencken wanted carefully written pieces on a few topics only, preferably written the night before—much in the same way he had handled his own Monday column or “The Free Lance” decades ago.3
Frequently, the assignments Mencken gave could not be done overnight—indeed, as Hamilton Owens subsequently commented, Mencken's standards of thoroughness and precision were so great that they might take a week, “so that when the morning came and the paper had to be made up, the material to fill the page simply wasn't there.” As Wagner remembered, “when it came to contributions from the rest of us, here came his total intolerance of any writing not first class. Nearly everything we did went into the wastebasket, with the result that his anxiety about a daily crisis was justified, daily. We solved this by sneaking things into type ahead of time. When makeup time came, he had no choice but to use them.” They were not precisely the kind of editorials that Mencken would have liked, Owens admitted, but “the fact is that they were printable, publishable editorials, and the page did come out.”
This method proved frustrating both for Mencken and the staff. “We wore ourselves out trying not to be traditional,” Harriss remembered. His diary recorded their dilemma. One entry read: “Wagner has been much annoyed because of the difficulty of finding editorial topics which Mencken will approve. About the only subject Mencken will accept is the New Deal—Its Iniquities.” Harriss was sure that Mencken was “not always careful about the facts, nor [did] he hesitate to juggle them to suit his argument.” Moreover, he suspected him of interlarding editorials written by staff with expressions of his own, “which changed the general tone and tended to give the writer a Tory complexion.” Yet, Mencken insisted that he did not want any member of his staff to feel forced to write against the grain.
The page itself varied wildly from day to day, remembered Harriss, “reflecting both Toryism and radical change, pedestrian pomposity and high-jinks.” Indeed, “if you take the three months and look them over, they were not necessarily the brightest three months in the history of the editorial page of the Evening Sun.” Day after day, local issues were bypassed in favor of editorials that censured Roosevelt. In one of these, Mencken excoriated the TVA—which may have accomplished more for recovery than many of the other New Deal programs—as the only place where the president had a following, “among the anthropoids of the Tennessee Valley, where $200,000,000 of the taxpayers' money has been laid out to buy their votes.” In another, Mencken simply displayed across the top of the page a huge eight-column, Edmund Duffy cartoon showing shabby men shambling in a bread line, titled “The Abundant Life—1938.” Under a thin guise of an editorial celebrating the two-hundred-and-sixth anniversary of the birth of George Washington, entitled “Man of an Extinct Species,” Mencken attacked (p. 442 ) “the character of high American officials” who were unlike Washington, who “kept promises,” “never sought popularity by the arts of a demagogue,” and “had a modest view of his own capacities and did not pretend to be wider or better than other men.”4
None of this differed substantially from the stances Mencken had taken in the past. His denunciation of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal reminded readers of the American Mercury of the treatment he had given Coolidge and Hoover. His insertion of his own expressions into the text was a carryover from his days as editor of the magazine. What was different was the passion behind his purpose: to fight, as he told Patterson, for the chief liberal goals: the limitation of governmental powers, economy in all public services, the greatest tolerable degree of free speech, and a press secure against official pressure.
When Mencken was not denouncing Roosevelt, he went after Communists, whom he dismissed as jackasses and dishonest to boot. Mencken's view of radicalism, Harriss noted in his diary, “almost amounts to a phobia. Wagner and I call him, privately, the Red Hunter,” constantly on the alert to pick up statements in such publications as New Masses and the Daily Worker to discredit suspected communists. Mencken also wrote against socialized medicine, a topic on which he would expand in his own column much later. One day, when Harriss showed him a mild phrase in a review that A. D. Emmart had written for the books page, Mencken said: “He's no good, he's a pink. A goddamned pink. I don't like a man around me that I can't trust.”
In all fairness, other topics were covered during Mencken's tenure as editor. He focused on minorities; he spoke for the advancement of women; and he raised the issue of anti-lynching legislation. He also voiced support of Robert L. Vann, the black editor and publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier, as a candidate for the Supreme Court. When Vann was bypassed in favor of Hugo Black, Mencken insinuated that FDR's racial prejudice blocked Vann's nomination. Mencken also wrote a moving piece on the death of Clarence Darrow, reminding the public of the fury and righteousness he had shown during the Scopes Trial.
On the international front, Mencken wrote on Mexico, but paid very little attention to the rise of Hitler in Germany. His tenure as editor of the Evening Sun editorial page coincided with Hitler's invasion of Austria. During the weeks that followed, German actions were front-page news in the vast majority of American papers; according to the Press Information Bulletin, more than 1,400 editorials on the subject were printed, half of them devoted to the plights of the Jews. But Mencken devoted only one editorial to the Anschluss, explaining that at least Austrians had been taken over by one of their own. There was not a single mention of the plight of Jewish refugees.
The fact that Mencken had not devoted any space to the fate of the Jews did not pass unnoticed, and letters to that effect came into the office. Mencken took over the letters column himself, cutting the space in half. He lifted the “Points from Letters” feature from the London Times, editing down yard-long letters to (p. 443 ) one inch. Mencken dismissed these correspondents: “Most of them were Jews of low mental visibility, and in the early part of 1938 virtually all of their letters were devoted to denouncing Hitler. This rubbish,” Mencken argued, “had driven all intelligent correspondents out of the paper.”5
Throughout this period, Mencken was frustrated that although plenty of “graceful nothings” had been produced, he felt there was not one good editorial writer among the present staff. For all of his coaching, the future of the Evening Sun editorial page seemed just as unpromising as when he had taken the helm. Now and then, his patience wore thin. “Wagner and I have had several loud but good-natured arguments with Mencken over matters of make-up,” Harriss recorded in his diary one day in March. “One of them became violent, with Mencken bellowing ‘No, No, No,’ and waving his arms, yelling, ‘You and Harriss are ganging up on me and by God I won't let you two put that Katzenjammer over me!’ A photographer who overheard the row looked in and was amazed. He thought I was going to hit Mencken with the bungstarter—which I keep on my desk against nuts who come in with grievances and threaten to wreck the place.” The photographer fled to the city room, telling his colleagues that murder was being committed in “Brain Alley.”
“The Mencken instinct for order in all things was equally manifest,” Wagner remembered. It was not only in the manner he insisted the editorial page be composed, but even in his care in choosing a stenographer. Elsinor Roman was the stenographer in question, and she soon learned that no matter how quickly she took notes, Mencken was always one sentence ahead of her. “It was exhausting,” she admitted. “I remember thinking, when I left his desk that first day, ‘It's inhuman to dictate that fast.’ But someone told me he just couldn't think slowly.”
At first, Mencken found his new duties enjoyable. He wrote a correspondent: “The truth is that a newspaperman is never happier than when he is worked fifteen hours a day.” This was of some comfort to the rest of the beleaguered staff, who had only to glance up from their typewriters to see that Mencken was completely absorbed in his own work; he did not even get up for a glass of water. He paid no heed to a sculptor working in the corner of the room, busily molding a likeness of the famous editor. For Mencken, that clay bust was “just a big mud pie.” He kept going until after four in the afternoon, when he would glance at his watch and head for Hollins Street for an early dinner and his own private mail. Such a schedule did not leave much time for leisure; weekends were filled with the work he was unable to do at the office.
According to Harriss, “despite the fact that we worked like dogs” and disagreed with Mencken's views, relations between the editor and his staff were positive. “He was a taskmaster, he was a slave driver, but you did it because it was fun to do it,” Harriss said. “And he did some nice things.” Wagner noted that Mencken's “distress over the incompetence of his subordinates—and I may say that each of us displayed incompetence of a different sort—had the effect of increasing his personal kindness and courtesy to the very people who were driving (p. 444 )
“To us smaller fry in the organization he was consistently genial and consistently helpful, although he could be sardonic,” Gerald Johnson later wrote. “To me one day he observed, blandly, ‘He is a great cartoonist, but in politics, of course, [Edmund] Duffy is an idiot.’ Since Duffy's politics and mine were identical I got it, all right.”
And yet, Johnson went on, “It would be difficult, indeed, to identify a man who didn't hate H. L. Mencken,” the public figure of the signed articles. But the private figure was another story. “He was too expansive, too free of envy, too obviously void of any disposition to grasp at personal advantage. Even those most captious of critics, writers who knew that he could out-write them, once they came within the magnetic field of his personality lost the capacity to hate. They could be exasperated by him, they could denounce him with fire and fury; but they had trouble doing it with a straight face.”6
While Mencken was lambasting FDR and his administration on the Evening Sun editorial page, uppermost in his mind was the situation in Germany. With the Anschluss had come the persecution of the Jewish population in Austria, which shocked the American press in a way that prior events in Germany had not. The news that Nazi authorities in Vienna had treated abusively Sigmund Freud (p. 445 )
Mencken did not share the sense of outrage of the rest of the nation. “My belief when history is written at last the one indubitable white mark to the credit of the Nazis will be the fact that they threw Freud out of Vienna,” he said. “They will also get a gray mark, in my opinion, for chasing out Einstein.” And while he (p. 446 )
It may have been this added to the pace of his editorial job that kept Mencken's nerves on edge and his chest pains acute. All his life Mencken had combatted pain by lying down for an hour or more, or taking two or three days of rest from his work. But now there was too much work to allow him such routines. He settled for gulping glasses of water mixed with a half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
After weeks of discomfort, Mencken visited Dr. Baker, arriving, his doctor recalled, “in characteristic fashion—in a great rush and a minute ahead of a fit, saying he had a peculiar sensation about his heart.” A cardiogram indicated arteriosclerosis. Over the course of Mencken's tenure as editor, spells of dizziness had plagued him. Every time he took a prescribed dosage of belladonna he had a troublesome reaction as he sat at his desk trying to write. At night, his sleep was frequently broken. Mencken soon realized that the anxiety of managing a staff and being responsible for the editorial page of the Evening Sun was taking its toll. In letters to friends, Mencken began to see his post as a purgatory he was more than eager to escape.
(p. 447 ) If Mencken felt limp, so did the staff. Frantically, Elsinor Roman asked a doctor to prescribe something to help her keep up with Mencken's pace; he advised her to give up her job. One of her duties was to wet the clay of the Mencken bust that had yet to be completed. One of the highlights of her day, before staggering home, she recalled, was to “pour a glass of water over Mencken's head.”
Hamilton Owens wryly observed: “I wouldn't say the place was a shambles by the time Mencken's three months were over, but I would say that everybody concerned was happy, and Mencken was the happiest of them all.”
Shortly thereafter, Mencken suggested to management that Philip Wagner become editor of the Evening Sun. As for himself, he again checked into Johns Hopkins Hospital where again he was diagnosed with arteriosclerotic heart disease. He confidently told doctors that a trip abroad would cure him of troubles. He had not been to Germany in ten years, he confessed, “and I am eager to find out what is really going on.”
As Mencken's departure for Germany approached, he would have done well to recall a letter from his old friend, Philip Goodman, from whom he had been estranged since their argument over Hitler four years before. Noting that Mencken was about to visit “the land of the Barbarians,” Goodman gave him several suggestions. At the bottom of the page, he made another. “Only, henceforth,” he pleaded with Henry, “try and remove your heart from your head.”7
(1.) “The Reminiscences of Edward Bernays,” p. 397, COL; Douglas Williams, “The President Sees the Press,” London Daily Telegraph, Dec. 8, 1934; Winfield, FDR and the News Media, pp. 28–29, 33–35; Frank Kent, “The President and Press,” May 24, 1934, MdHS; Thomas W. Phelps, “Reporters' Friend: Roosevelt Treats Gentlemen of Press Covering His Activities as Comrades: A Friendly Laugh Helps,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 1934; William E. Leuchtenburg, “Why Candidates Still Use FDR as Their Measure,” American Heritage, Feb. 1988, pp. 36–37; Smith, Thank You, Mr. President, pp. 1–29; HLM to Paul Patterson, Jan. 1937, Carl Bode Papers, EPFL; HLM to Paul Ward, May 1, 1939, EPFL.
(2.) R. P. Harriss, “Mencken as Boss,” BS, Sept. 4, 1988; R. P. Harriss, Diary, Jan. 24, Feb. 7, March 24, 1938, collection of Margery Harriss; R. P. Harriss to Harold A. Williams, May 26, 1976, collection of Harold Williams; Williams, The Baltimore Sun 1837–1987, p. 232; HLM to Hamilton Owens, April 9, 1938, EPFL; author interview with R. P. Harriss, Oct. 24, 1987; HLM, Thirty-Five Years, pp. 1024, 1026–27, 1031, EPFL.
(3.) R. P. Harriss, “Mencken as Boss,” BS, Sept. 4, 1988; HLM, “Object Lesson,” BES, Feb. 10, 1938; “Antic Dots,” Time, Feb. 21, 1938, p. 44; “A Million Dots,” Printer's Ink, Feb. 17, 1938; “Six Columns of Dots,” Chattanooga News, Feb. 17, 1938; HLM, “Five Years of the New Deal,” BES, March 4, 1938; R. P. Harriss, Diary, March 4, 1938, collection of Margery Harriss; author interview with Philip Wagner, Oct. 29, 1989; R. P. Harriss interview with Harold A. Williams, May 26, 1976, collection of Harold Williams; HLM, Thirty-Five Years, p. 1024, EPFL.
(4.) “The Reminiscences of Hamilton Owens,” p. 64, COL; Philip A. Wagner, “Mencken Remembered,” American Scholar, Spring 1963, p. 267; R. P. Harriss, Diary, March 24, 1938, collection of Margery Harriss; R. P. Harriss interviews with Harold A. Williams, May 26, 1976, April 1, 1984, collection of Harold A. Williams; R. P. Harriss, “Life with Mencken,” Gardens, Houses and People, May 1949, pp. 21–23; “The End of a Yardstick,” editorial, BES, March 9, 1938; “Man of an Extinct Species,” editorial, BES, Feb. 22, 1938.
(5.) R. P. Harriss, Diary, March 8, 1938, collection of Margery Harriss; “The Reds and Fair Play,” editorial, BES, April 11, 1938; “Note on Human Progress,” editorial, BES, April 25, 1938; “Who Will Be General?” editorial, BES, April 30, 1938; “A Law Against Lynching,” editorial, BES, May 7, 1938; “A Gladiator of the Law,” editorial, BES, March 14, 1938; “The Mexican New Deal,” editorial, BES, April 30, 1938; “Happy Days in Mexico,” editorial, BES, April 20, 1938; Lipstadt, Beyond Belief, p. 87; “Wein Bleibt Wein,” editorial, BES, March 17, 1938; HLM, Thirty-Five Years, pp. 1025–26, EPFL.
(6.) HLM, Thirty-Five Years, pp. 1027, 1031, EPFL; HLM to Hamilton Owens, April 9, 1938, EPFL; R. P. Harriss, Diary, March 24, 1938 collection of Margery Harriss; Philip Wagner, “Mencken Remembered,” American Scholar, Spring 1963, pp. 267–68; author interview with Elsinor Roman, July 6, 1989; HLM to Sister Miriam, March 23, 1938, GT; Harold A. Williams interview with R. P. Harriss, April 12, 1984, collection of Harold A. Williams; “The Same Mencken,” Canonsburg Notes, March 16, 1938; Gerald Johnson, “H. L. Mencken [1880–1956],” Saturday Review of Literature, Feb. 11, 1956, pp. 12–13.
(7.) Lipstadt, Beyond Belief, p. 89; HLM to Marcella DuPont, Aug. 31, 1938, Carl Bode Papers, EPFL; “H. L. Mencken Medical File,” May 16, 1938, May 23, 1938, April 12, 1938, courtesy of Dr. Philip Wagley; HLM to Henry Wood, May 12, 1938, EPFL; HLM to Virginia Mencken, May 16, 1938, EPFL; author interview with Elsinor Roman, July 6, 1989; “The Reminiscences of Hamilton Owens,” p. 67, COL; HLM to Sister Miriam, May 6, 1938, GT; (p. 620 ) Philip Goodman to HLM, “Wednesday,” in “Mencken and Goodman, Later Letters,” compiled by Jack Sanders (private printing 1994, collection of Jack Sanders).