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

A Brief Peace: The Postwar Years of George Sessions Perry

Perry and Loren Disney had collaborated on the theatrical version of
Thirty Days, originally published by Perry and Dorothy Cameron Disney as
a novel in 1942. Frank Duane more recently had adapted Walls as a musi-
cal. The success of the plays set Perry to reminiscing about when he want-
ed to join a tent show as a high school student, his brief stint as a screen-
writer, and the gray, drizzly New England day that George, restless and
between assignments, impulsively became a playwright. Characteristically,
Perry converted his thoughts to a Post article."2
The theater article, "The Darndest Thing You've Ever Seen," inspired
a stinging rebuke among the customary congratulatory letters. An indig-
nant reader wrote the Post to accuse Perry of taking "everything" in the
Perry story from a Margo Jones book. As a parting shot he also attacked
the title as "really stupid." The editor replied skeptically to the complain-
er, "doubt[ing] very much" that the allegations could be substantiated
and sent the missive with an apology to Perry: "I was sorry to have to
send you that stinking letter but I knew you would want a chance to
defend yourself." Because Perry felt "so rotten at the time," Claire with-
held the letter for several days; upon reading it, the generally soft-spo-
ken George pronounced it the worst "of all the cruddy letters I ever
got." In probably his most blistering letter since a magazine editor had
clumsily edited a short story more than fifteen years earlier, Perry docu-
mented his research and admonished:
Now why don't you let this be a lesson to you? You've insulted the intelligence of
the editors of the Post, questioned my journalistic integrity, and caused a great
deal of trouble to busy people .... You ought to ... let honest working people
be and to check your facts before making such outrageous charges.24
The incident demonstrated the Post's pronounced regard for Perry's
sensitivities and the writer's ability to summon righteous anger when
provoked; the "rotten" condition signaled a deepening debility. Perry
had begun experiencing back pains by the late 1940s, which were even-
tually attributed to spinal arthritis. His extensive travels and weight gain
could only have exacerbated the condition. Notwithstanding, he volun-
teered his services to the U.S. Navy immediately following the North
Korean invasion of the South. According to Claire, "he was so crippled
2 John M. McClelland Jr to Perry, Jan. 2, 1951, Letters Recip. S, Perry Collection; Houston
Chronicle, Mar. 25, 1951; Ed A. Swell to Perry, Mar. 30, 1951, Letters Recip. S, Perry Collection;
Margo Jones to Perry, Apr. 2, 1951, Letters Recip. I-L, Perry Collection; five Tccl to SEP, Aug.
31, 1951, Letters A-Z, Perry Collection; Houston Post, Dec. 12, 1951.
24Robert Fuoss to Bentley Kenney, Mar 24, 1952, Letters Recip. SEP Folder (2nd quotation);
Perry to Fuoss, Apr. 1, 1952 (4th quotation); Fuoss to Perry, Apr. 4, 1952 (3rd quotation); Fuoss
to Perry, May 24, 1952 (1st quotation).

2002

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 April 19, 2014.