Monday, 4 February 2013
Robert Benchley Society Announces A Discovery

1914 piece by Robert Benchley discovered

Sept. 9, 1914, New York Tribune, "The Conning Tower"

Thanks to independent historian Stuart Y. Silverstein of Los Angeles and Chicago, the editor of Not Much Fun, the Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker, we can now read something Robert Benchley wrote in 1914 for "The Conning Tower" of the New York Tribune. Benchley was just two years out of Harvard, and the Algonquin Round Table was five years off on the horizon.

The piece, "Blank Form To Be Handed to Returning Tourists," was submitted to the editor of the column, Benchley's mentor, Franklin P. Adams. As all "contribs" to "The Conning Tower" it was signed with Benchley's initials, not his byline. It ran Sept. 9, 1914. Mr. Silverstein says, "Note that it refers to the First World War - which started July 28, 1914 - just 6 weeks earlier. This item appeared less than a week before Benchley's 25th birthday."

Thanks, Mr. Silverstein, for digging up what we believe is the first appearance of Benchley in a New York newspaper, and sharing it with us.

(If the image is hard to read, here is a transcription)

Blank Form To Be Handed to Returning Tourists
Please fill in blanks and return with photograph showing yourself with mouth open.
The first inkling I had of the war was in _____. I was with my _____ (and my _____) at the time, and we had just come from a delightful trip through _____. One evening, the _____th of _____, we heard _____ and I said to our _____friend--, "_____?" He replied: "_____!" Immediately the streets were thronged with enthusiastic _____, all singing "_____." We had time only to get our _____ and stand _____ hours in the station for the train to _____. We were grossly insulted on the border by a _____ who insisted on _____. On reaching _____ we had to stand like cattle before the _____ left for _____. I tell you, the old Statue of Liberty looked pretty good to me. I don't know, of course, but take it from me, the war won't be over until one side is victorious and that won't be for _____.
R. C. B.

Posted on 02/04/2013 4:50 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
4 Feb 2013
Send an emailreactionry
The Morely, The Merrier
Or: Meeting The Benchley Mark
Assuming that he doesn't have a lean and hungry look, Mr. Fitzgerald should be "well-satisfied" and "patting" his "embonpoint," given that the above is almost as much fun as the Thomas Friedman Op/Ed generator:
Tags: Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, English tourists, Yugoslavia, "eternally the massacre-ee and never the massacre-er," MSM, "the plight of the Palestinians" Go West, young Imam

5 Feb 2013
Send an emailCiccio

I could swear I read almost the same thing from Mark Twain.