Wednesday, 30 November 2016

O'Hara joins the O.S.S.


I can now relate what O’Hara did in the war. Essentially he tried to join it. His drinking had ruined his gut and he was afflicted with ulcers which meant he was barred from normal active service. Trying every avenue of influence he finally managed to get accepted by the O.S.S.

Nonetheless, O'Hara kept up his efforts to be taken into the services and approached Colonel William Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic Services. To his surprise, he was accepted for training in the OSS and was sent to a camp in Virginia for the first steps. There he grew a beard and, in order to preserve the anonymity required of all candidates, he used his Pottsville nickname of "Doc." Again, he was stricken with illness and had to withdraw in less than a month's time. He then tried to find something in the merchant marine or the Red Cross, but these possibilities also fell through.

Just as well for the war effort.

I said mean things about his looking after his widowed and impoverished mother particularly because he went through a period of earning 1000$ per week in Hollywood and as a columnist for Newsweek. This my calculator says is 16+ thousand dollars in today’s money. However in 1940, MacShane writes:

By 1940, he began to realize that it was foolish for his mother to remain in Pottsville, living alone with her younger daughter Kathleen in a house suited for a family of eight. He and Mary therefore found a modest but pleasant apartment at 107 University Place, just south of Fourteenth Street in Greenwich Village, and there he installed his mother and his Aunt Verna, together with Mary and Kathleen. O'Hara was very fond of his mother; they were friends. As she had a lively sense of humor and brought out her son's, there was always joking and laughter when they were together.

I’m really not sure what precise weight ‘installed’ has in this account. Does it mean he found the apartment or bought the lease. The family had a big house in Pottsville but that was probably re-mortgaged. This biography is very often slack on information but provides a good illustration of the massive demand for copy from writers in the age of the magazine. There were so many of them and they had such wide circulation that any talented writer had a outlet unlike the present day where ‘then he started a blog’ is a last post on a faltering bugle.


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