Father and Son - An Old Problem

From a May 26, 1923 letter to his friend Rob Simonds when John O'Hara was eighteen years old:

At present I am too much concerned over things temporal to discuss with you matters pertaining to the spritual. My father and I are off again.  This time he has good and sufficient reason to become perturbed: someone has told him of my boozing, He told me about what he had heard and made several dire threats which aren't even interesting; he hasn't the nerve to carry them out, but nevertheless, life henceforth will be a veritable hell for me. He has made it so before and he'll use every means he can to make it hell, because of all things he hates, liquor receives double its share  - he had a brother who, when drunk, fell down a flight of stairs and died from the effects of the fall. As I told you and Lem, our relations have been anything but amicable since August 1921. This discovery of my intemperance may may eventually culminate matters. Anticipating such culmination , I have begun tentatively bag-packing. I'll probably hang around for a month or so, but when Marg returns from the Vineyard on Labor Day, I think she'll find one less persistent snake. (Very poorly put, but you know what I mean.)

                                            Father and Son - An Old Theme

On May 26, 1945, publication of "Wise Guy." The New Yorker. Hellbox.

Mr. Osgood, apparently a real estate broker, is having a drink in a crowded restaurant, waiting for a woman who is to  meet him for lunch. Instead, his son appears. The father forgets the two of them were scheduled to meet to go and buy the son a new suit. The father tells the son he is waiting for a woman so he can show her some real property she might be interested in buying.

   I reached in my pocket. "Here, here's some dough....I'm sorry I can't go with you, but this is important."
   The kid stood up and looked at the money, which I held out to him, and then at me, but he didn't look at me very long. "I'll tell mother I didn't see you," he said....He was out of the place before I got to my feet.
   Well, he was the one who wanted the suit. I didn't. The little wise guy.

No comments: