"The Club"


On November 21, 1959, publication of "That First Husband." The Saturday Evening Post. The Time Element & Other Stories. This was the last story before John O'Hara rejoined The New Yorker with the publication of  "Imagine Kissing Pete" in September 1960. In February 1960 Ourselves to Know was published.

"Dutch" Otterbein and his wife Emily return to Dutch's college and have an ugly confrontation with Emily's former husband. What interest me was the description of the club and its admission requirements:

"A member of The Orchard considers himself a member from the time he first shakes hands to the moment when there is no longer life in his fingers. And, incidentally, we have no secret grip. We have a necktie, a hatband and a watch charm, but our ritual is Robert's Rules of Order, and we have no connection with the Greek-letter fraternity whose members founded The Orchard. Our principal secret is that of any club - the discussions and the vote that decide who shall be invited to join. It is interesting to note that in almost every year of our existence the college as a whole has been able to guess accurately then names of the ten or fifteen men who will be invited. We have standards , and they are known: a good family background, a good prep school, a clear complexion, acceptable behavior when drunk, a responsible attitude toward the educational purpose of the college, and the subtlest one of all - a belief that a man who is being considered for an invitation will not, in college a or later life , trade on his membership in The Orchard. We have made many mistakes. We have missed out on men who turned out well; we have taken in men who turned out badly. But one of the reasons why I always try to get to the club before the game is that the mistakes who persist in showing up are so much in the minority. The good men predominate, as I suppose they do on other clubs, and our standards are upheld in the superior court of adult life."

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