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

A Brief Peace: The Postwar Years of George Sessions Perry

explained to a reader the art of shooing oxen; he passed along a joke to a
subject of an article, holding to his vow: "Once arthritis wipes that smile off
my face, we're lost." After the Perrys dined with his editors in Philadelphia,
Perry lightly commented, "surely we must have been lunching with three of
the best editors in the world. Maybe I'm prejudiced." To an old friend he
quipped, "I am beginning to list a little on the port side.""
Among the numerous friendships Perry made, perhaps the most
poignant was with Father Carmelo Tranchese, whom the writer met dur-
ing his travels. Although George distanced himself from organized reli-
gion and once refused to write a piece on the subject, he admired the
priest's "almost unbelievable amount of good and often heroic work ...
for the poor Mexican." On learning of the man's illness, Perry sent a
communication that could have applied to himself: "Surely the love and
respect that your countless friends all feel for you must be a consolation
during your present indisposition." "I myself have been a little under the
weather lately," he understated. "I was treated for arthritis of the spine,
which is a very tiresome and uninteresting thing to have." Perry promised
to try to visit the clergyman when in Texas and advised him not to drain
his strength to answer the note. Father Tranchese at length responded,
describing his despair, which "I do not admit ... with other[s], but to you
I will," at losing a slum clearance project during his immobility. "Well,
George," he stated in words more predictive than intended, "we have to
be prepared for events over which we have no control."28
Nothing dampened Perry's enthusiasm for his work, sharpened by a
need to cover medical costs. "I don't know when we'll come home," he
wrote a friend in Rockdale. "There's a story or two I'd like to do up here
[Guilford] to earn a little money." Although Perry's publications
declined during this time, he completed Story of Texas for a young audi-
ence and sold five articles in 1955 and two in the year he died. He main-
tained his established standards; "Enchanted Pond" drew acclaim for its
beautiful construction, and his final articles on Quebec City and St.
Louis bore the unmistakable mark of meticulous research. Post editors
27 Perry, "My Fight Against Arthritis," 71 (1st quotation); Ben Hibbs to Perry, June 17, 1953,
Letters Recip SEP Folder, Perry Collection (2nd quotation); Cayce Moore to Perry, Nov. lo,
1953[?], Letters Recip. M, Perry Collection; Perry to a reader of one of the Post pieces, n.d.,
Letters 1953 Sten. Notebook, Perry Collection, Mis. "Nurses," [1952-1953], Perry Collection
(3rd quotation); Perry to Ben Hibbs, n.d., Letters, 1954 Notebook (4th quotation); Perry to
Henderson Shuffler, n.d., 1955, Letters, 1954 Notebook, Perry Collection (5th quotation).
21 Adela to Perry, Mar. 21, 1946 [postmark], Letters Recip. Unidentified A, Perry Collection;
Perry to Father Tranchese, n.d., Letters, 1953 Sten. Notebook (1st three quotations); Tranchese
to Perry, Dec. 23, 1954, Letters Recip. C (remaining quotations). For descriptions of Father
Tranchese's commitment to public housing and community centers in San Antonio, Texas, see
George Sessions Perry, "Rumpled Angel of the Slums," Saturday Evenzng Post, 221 (Aug. 21,
1948), 32-33, and Donald L. Zelman, "Tranchese, Carmelo Antonio," The Handbook of Texas
Online, <http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/TT/ftr2o/html>.

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 December 17, 2014.