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                                               What it Was Like Back Then, Really

In a March 26, 1964 response to New Yorker fiction editor William Maxwell:

"laid." That can be changed to: "How long since you did have a woman?"
"Gonorrhea." That can be changed to: nothing. Just strike out gonorrhea. In fact let's start a movement to stamp out gonorrhea.
"You have had intercourse, haven't you?"  We can change that to: "You ever been married?"

Maxwell and O'Hara grew up in an era when the word "damn" in books was spelled "d---."
In 1950 my father took me to a Gone With the Wind revival, and when Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O'Hara "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," the audience let out a collective gasp. A year or two later, around 1952, there was a big thing about using the word "pregnant" in a movie (I can't remember the name). By the end of the sixties this was all, well, "gone with the wind."

                                                               Penn State

In the same March 26, 1964 letter, John O'Hara wrote:

You can send the rejected stories to me at Princeton after next week. They will be then stashed away until I have what I think are enough for a book, then they all go off to the Penn State University Library, which is where all my mss eventually will repose. A great many are there already, crumbling to dust because I use such horrible cheap paper.

I highly recommend a visit to John O'Hara's study at Penn State.


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