The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

72 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
turned down numerous suggestions for stories, including a fictional
piece on a woman passing as a male sailor and an account of his com-
panion dog, "Mister Mutt." "As always," stated one editorial reply, "I'd a
damn sight rather be bringing you a happier report." "I've asked the
guys to keep an eye out for a subject for you," promised another. "Maybe
we'll come up with something shortly."29
Perry's condition continued its downward spiral. In his last several years,
he shuttled between the New Haven hospital and his Guilford home. Hosts
considered his delicate state in their invitations. "George will sleep on a ply-
wood bed with foam rubber mattress," stated an old friend."If you can
make the trip with comfort, this will be cause for rejoicing." Depression
and self-medication hastened his deterioration. Perry acknowledged in his
article on arthritis, "when it became unbearable ... I'd simply pop another
codeine tablet into my mouth" and in an unpublished manuscript, "I had
come to depend upon . . . [alcohol] more and more." Intimates later
recalled strange behavior. Once, as early as 1949, Perry drew the curtains
in his home to prevent unspecified people from spying on him; even earli-
er, he threw a draft of a projected novel on Texas history into the fireplace,
lamenting that Texans would not accept its accuracy.s0
Climactically, after an evening of heavy drinking, he awoke before
dawn from the sound of "voices in my attic cursing me severely." When
the distraught Perry began chasing the voices and "behaving like the
wildest kind of lunatic," Claire summoned a doctor, who dispatched him
to the hospital. Placed in a mental ward, he unleashed a torrent of pro-
fanity: "I was helpless . . . the profanity never stopped." After release,
Perry committed himself to a state mental hospital when the threatening
voices returned and he perceived people reading his thoughts. In a chill-
ing conclusion he wrote of his experiences:
My mind, in which the voices are now stilled, is blank and dead. I have no sensi-
tivity, no emotions, no imagination, only numbness. I cured my arthritis at the
cost of losing my mind."1
1" Perry to Henderson Shuffler, 1955, Letters, 1954 Notebook, Perry Collection (1st quotation);
Bob Fuoss to Perry, Apr. 4, 1955, Works, Perry Collection (2nd quotation); Fuoss to Perry, Aug. 26,
1955, Letters Recip. SEP Folder (3rd quotation); Elizabeth Emanuel to Perry, Sept. 12, 1955,
Letters Recip. G, Perry Collection, Edith Haggard to Perry, Sept. 3o, 1955, Works, Perry Collection;
Cowser, "A Biographical and Critical Interpretation of George Sessions Perry," 2o. Medical expenses
forced the sale of Perry's prized Hold Autumn Farm. Hairston, George Sessions Perry, 61.
'0 Perry to Dottie and Boswell Newton, November [n.d.], 1955, Letters 1954 Notebook, Perry
Collection; Wailes Gray to Perrys, Nov. 15, 1955, Letters Recip. G, Perry Collection (1st quota-
tion); Perry, "My Fight Against Arthritis," 37 (2nd quotation), Hairston, George Sessions Perry,
19-2o,58-59-
11 Perry, "I Won My Fight with Arthritis at the Cost of Losing My Mind," n.d., Works, Perry
Collection. Mrs. Perry stated that he wrote the notes in the spring of 1955. Hairston, George
Sessions Perry, 62

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed July 23, 2014.