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I hope readers of this strictly impersonal column will pardon me if I inject a bit of personal stuff in today’s outpouring. It concerns my wife. I’m having trouble with her. It’s serious trouble, too. I wouldn’t air a family difficulty in this space, however, unless it had some definite connection with the Day Book. The difficulty is aired in the hope that because of it the Day Books of the future may become a vastly improved institution.

From this the reader may gather that the difficulty concerns the Day Books of the past. It does. My severest critic has decided she must withhold her approval. And since her approval is very important, I am up a tree about it and won’t come down until the public, the great vox populi, offers me a ladder on which to descend.

This is how I happen to be up a tree. I had just completed a recent column. With a nonchalance I didn’t feel, I placed a copy of it in the hand-that-rocks-the-cradle.

“What do you think of this one?” I asked.

As she read it, I watched her face anxiously for the reaction. Would she laugh at that part about Hess and the horse-blinders? Would she giggle at the predicament in which I had placed Goebbels? Honesty forces me to confess that she didn’t laugh. Neither did she giggle. As a matter of cold fact, she didn’t even so much as stifle a snicker or yawn to hide a smile.

The column had left her cold. The finest, most sensitive, most critical part of my audience had elected, in the parlance of the stage, to sit on her hands. It left me in the unfortunate position of the comedian who has just cracked one of his favorite jokes and pauses for breath and to give the audience time to pound its palms in approval. He gets the breath, but the applause is ominously conspicuous by its absence. At such a time an actor must feel about as successful as an undernourished mosquito that has alighted on the back of an armadillo for lunch.

“It’s rotten,” she remarked as she read the last line of the column.

That was very characteristic of the Mrs. Blunt. Outspoken. No mincing of words for her.

I summoned enough courage to ask why it was rotten.

“It’s lousy because I’m fed up with that sort of stuff,” she replied. “Day in and day out, it’s nothing but anti-Semitism. Nothing but hate. Nothing but the Nazis and the other anti-Semites and what they’re doing to the Jews. I tell you I’m sick of reading about that kind of stuff.”

Now those weren’t her exact words, since a man can’t be expected to make notes when his wife is offering criticism, particularly such intemperate criticism. But they approximate the idea she was intending to convey.

“Well,” I asked, in the surly manner of the man who pleads for honest criticism of himself with the assurance that he can take it like a sport, “what the hell would you write about in my place?”

Understand, please, I wasn’t sore. Probably something I had eaten the night before was just beginning to upset my digestion. Such coincidences, readers of detective fiction will agree, aren’t beyond the realm of credibility. At any rate, I demand the benefit of the doubt.

That question didn’t stump the wife even for a minute.

“Why don’t you write about the good things that are happening to the Jews?” she snapped back as she returned to the interrrupted task of diapering Junior. “Surely, there are plenty of good things they’re experiencing that could be made the subject of interesting, even humorous or satirical comment.”

“For example?” I said, trying my best to disguise the sneering tone behind a bland smile. (A very difficult feat, rest asssured.)

Still she wasn’t stumped. Dropping Junior—in his crib, not on the floor—she grabbed a copy of the local newspaper and triumphantly pointed to the pictures of two bright-eyed youngsters, one a girl, the other a boy. I read the caption under the pictures. They were two high school graduates, both with distinctly Jewish names, who had just been announced as winners of State scholarships to a well known university.

“What!” I shrieked (still good naturedly). “You’d have me devote an entire column to drivel about kids who won scholarships? Why, the country’s full of them. You can buy ‘em a dime a dozen. They’re dull stuff. There isn’t a paragraph in a carload of them. And anyway, I think people would rather read about the nasty Nazis any day in the week. People like to get their hate glands in a lather.”

At this point, Junior let out a wail. It sounded very much like, “Aw, nuts, Daddy, why don’t you stop picking on Mommy?” Anyway, whatever it was, it had the effect of halting the argument for the day. And a good thing it was for the wife, too, because Daddy was just getting warmed up to the battle.

But all that doesn’t alter the fact that I’m treed and not being a simian, I’m not happy up a tree.

Murmurs overheard here and there lead me to believe that there may be a good deal in what the best friend and severest critic said. If there is, I propose to find out. If our handsome colleague over on page seven (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) can run a contest asking his readers—who for argument’s sake are intellectually several steps below readers of the Day Book — to pick the greatest Jewish pug of the ages or the greatest Jewish ivory tosser of the century, certainly this department can run a contest asking its brainier fans to take sides in the “Pollyana versus Hate” quarrel of the writer and his missus.

Let’s put it this way: Fans, do you prefer your Day Books of the future to boycott even the slightest reference to the Nazis and anti-Semitism and to concentrate on the happier side of Jewish life of today, or would you rather the status quo were maintained? And why?

Trundle out your portables, you Day Book devotees! Sharpen your pencils (and your wits, too, while you’re at it). Dip your pens in vitriol or honey. In short, turn literary and tell this department in letters not less than 500 words long (typed or legibly written on one side of the paper only) just how you feel about it.

I want the truth, even if it’s bitter. The hundreds of letters of praise for the column as it is, which I confidently expect to descend on the Jewish Daily Bulletin, will have no more chance to win this contest than those letters couched in the bitterest terms of criticism of its policies.

Incidentally, there will be a prize for the ten best letters. The winners will each receive two season passes to the Empire of Zoo, good any day but Mondays and Thursdays. The writer of the best of these first ten will be additionally rewarded with a letter of introduction to Oscar Ostrich, leader of the anti-Semitic bloc in the Bronx Zoological Gardens.

While on the subject of Oscar Ostrich, let me add a postscript to yesterday’s column. Readers should be informed that when Oscar heard of Rudolf Hess’ six-part edict ostracizing the Jews, in his joy he immediately purged seventy-seven stones which had been reported to him as harboring seditious plans. He kicked up his heels in sheer jubilation and immediately called his cabinet into a conference. The result of that conference will be held in abeyance until the readers have decided whether they want that sort of stuff in the future.

—H.W.

Keep up with Jewish news by reading the Jewish Daily Bulletin, only English-Language Jewish daily newspaper.

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