George Frazier, left, and John O'Hara

Garcia Lorca Conceived it, John O'Hara Wore it, George Frazier Popularized it, Brooks Brothers Once Embodied it

By Samuel Goldman

George Frazier had a story about the first time he met John O’Hara. The journalist and clotheshorse Frazier was introduced to the novelist O’Hara while hanging out at a Greenwich Village jazz club. The famously cranky O’Hara looked Frazier up and down before inviting him to have a drink. “You’re welcome at my table,” he announced. “You’re wearing a Brooks Brothers shirt.”

Frazier was known for popularizing the idea of duende. A Spanish folk term for a sort of goblin, duende came during the twentieth century to designate “style that’s truly alive”—a quality essential to those icons of Spanish culture, the poet, the flamenco singer, and the bullfighter. Frazier extended the concept to the exemplars of midcentury America. Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, and Miles Davis had duende. So did the Brooks Brothers shirt that they, like Frazier, habitually wore.

As with any object that possesses duende, it is hard to articulate what is so special about that shirt. It has several distinctive features, but the magic lies almost entirely in the collar. Known as “button-down” to ­unreflective dressers and a “polo collar” to the enthusiast, the Brooks design involves points that are 33/8 inches long and fasten just over three inches apart—almost but not quite half the distance between the top two buttons along the central placket.


Hello, friends of John O’Hara! This is Matthew Wilder. I’m a filmmaker in Los Angeles. In recent moments I wrote and directed the movie REGARDING THE CASE OF JOAN OF ARC, a kind of riff on Bresson’s TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC set in a dystopian-ly alt-right near-future; I wrote Paul Schrader’s DOG EAT DOG and executive produced Tim Hunter’s LOOKING GLASS, both starring Nicolas Cage. I am writing you good folks in order to inquire as to the whereabouts of the John O’Hara estate. My colleague, the filmmaker Robert Schwentke, and I are trying to locate the film rights to some O’Hara works. Any info you can give us that’ll point us in the direction of the estate’s reps would be dearly appreciated. Thanks!

Please contact me at myiphoneiskillingme@gmail.com with any info.


Why not a tote bag, instead of a t-shirt?
    A fabric tote bag would be so useful for hauling everything from books to groceries. I’d gladly pay a pretty sum for a good quality fabric bag bearing a logo of some sort referring to our man John O’Hara. In fact, I’d probably buy two. Like pretty much everybody else, I already have a lifetime (and then some) supply of t-shirts; but tote bags that I can use and reuse and toss into a load of laundry are really a necessity in my household.
    Let me know if this idea appeals to you and/or anybody else.
    Cheers from a chilly suburb of Rochester NY.
Carol Ritter Wright


Ages 5-10: Design a bookmark about something in your community. 

Ages 10-14: When John O’Hara wrote novels and short stories that used Schuylkill County as the location, he often changed the names of  businesses and places in a way that you knew what he was writing about. For example, Schuylkill Haven became Swedish Haven, Tamaqua became Taqua, and Pottsville became Gibbsville. Write a short story (up to 1000 words) about your community that uses the same approach.

Ages 15 and up: Write a one-shot (up to 2000 words) based on John O’Hara’s stories. Examples are prequels, sequels, alternate universe, or “what if this character had done that” explorations. 

Entries are due at the Pottsville Free Public Library  by December 14th.
For more details, visit the Pottsville Free Public Library  Facebook event page.
Announcement of winners will be Friday, January 31st when the  Pottsville Free Public Library celebrates John O’Hara’s 115th birthday.

O'Hara Celebration in Pottsville

By Becki White/Pottsville

To make sure everyone is in agreement with the list of events planned for this celebration, this is what I have. Please let me know what I'm missing or if I have something incorrect. We will be working from this list to create the table tent cards. This list was also posted in the Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/2621340801231392/ if you haven't joined yet).

Bookmark and short story contest will be announced in early November, with deadline for entries Dec. 14th. The library is working with Abby Weaver to set up the scavenger hunt, which will probably be launched at Winterfest, 3 weeks before the John O'Hara events.

Wed., 1/29, 6:30 pm - Schuylkill County Historical Society will present "Pioneer Hepcat" dramatic reading and discussion of reality in John O'Hara's works. $5 members/$10 nonmembers.

Thu., 1/30, 6 pm - Pottsville Free Public Library Page Turners will discuss "Appointment in Samarra". General public invited. (We will also list other discussion groups happening elsewhere in the county but I don't have all that information in front of me.)

Fri., 1/31, 1-4 pm - Pottsville Free Public Library will host a birthday party for John O'Hara, and announce the bookmark/short story contest winners. School students and general public invited.

Sat., 2/1, 10 am-12 pm - Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau and Schuylkill County Historical Society will run a John O'Hara trolley tour, starting from the old Union Station. Ticket prices to be announced.

Sat., 2/1, 2-5 pm - Majestic Theater will host speaker Cynthia Lucia and the film "Pal Joey", followed by a moderated discussion. General public invited.

Sat., 2/1, 6 pm - Pottsville Free Public Library will host a cabaret celebration of John O'Hara and music from the time period. Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served. Ticket prices to be announced.

Becki White, MLS
Head Reference Librarian
Pottsville Free Public Library
215 W Market St
Pottsville, PA  17901-4304
ph: 570-622-8880 ext 11
fx: 570-622-2157