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Sunday, September 30, 2007

I So Wanted To Win That Pony

83 years ago today, Truman Streckfus Persons, better known as the enfant terrible, was born in New Orleans.

One of my favorite Capote stories is related by Eugene Walter in his memoir, Milking the Moon: A Southerner's Story of Life on This Planet. Walter knew Capote as a child, because the latter would come to Mobile to have his underbite straightened, and the children called him 'Bulldog.' Anyway, Walter says:

In the Sunday Register there was the Sunshine Page. This lady called Disa Stone had this children's page and this Sunshine Club where children wrote and sent in what they wrote and vied for prizes. The grand prize was a pony. For his contribution to the Sunshine Page and for the contest, Truman had spied on this old man who lived up the street in Monroeville and was a real old crank. Even then he was already mixing fiction and reportage...

Anyway, he wrote this rather long piece called 'Old Mr. Busybody, by Truman Persons.' His aunt, when he told her, rushed to Mobile and went to the Register and said: 'You cannot publish that. It is too true a description of our neighbor. He'll sue us, he'll smash our windows, I don't know what he'll do. I want to take that back.' And she did. Years later when I saw him in Paris, the first thing Truman said to me was 'Oh, Eugene, I so wanted to win that pony.'

Happy birthday, Bulldog.

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