Monthly Archives: August 2015

On rectal thermometers and “you’re entitle'”

“Voyageur canoe shooting the rapids,” not unlike what yours truly will do in the next few weeks… 


I’m leaving town on Monday, August 10, and won’t be back until August 27.  (A matter of some unfinished business, canoe-trip-wise.)   So here’s a post that I hope will tide you over.

I recently ran across one of Harry Golden‘s later books.  It’s called You’re entitle’ , and it was published in 1962.  (By the World Publishing Company of Cleveland.)  As noted in Harry Golden, My Father & ‘Entitlements’ – Zest of Orange, that was the “expression of a free man:”

You’re Entitle’ … was not nearly as successful as its predecessors[, including] Only in America (1958), For 2¢ Plain (1958)…  Golden dedicated the book to his father[:]  “All his life he spoke a halting English, though he certainly made his ideas clear enough,” wrote Golden. “He was enamored of the phrase, ‘You’re entitle’.’  In his youth, Golden would correct him, saying, “It ends with a d, Poppa.”  His father would nod understandingly “but the next time it still came out, ‘You’re entitle’.”

As noted below, this later book contains a number of gems that could be reflected on.  Things like “the good life,” the ongoing Conservative Tide, and rectal thermometers as a sign of gradual integration.  (Not that there’s any connection…)

Product DetailsThe first nugget of wisdom came on page 25, “A note in passing:”

I am a reporter and, I hope, no sermonizer.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t know something about this process of living.  I shall soon see my sixtieth year and along with hundreds of thousands of other middle-aged men, I believe the good life, as the Greeks called it, is within reach.  We only have to be careful about two things.  First, don’t get in trouble with the Internal Revenue people; and second, don’t get mixed up with a woman.

Those last two are still good advice.  But I was struck by the combination of his referring to almost-60 as “middle aged,” and the connotation with it, that he was “older and wiser.”  Of course we all tend to get wiser as we grow older, but Harry’s idea of “60 as the new 30” seems way ahead of his time.  See On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30″ – (Part II), which noted John Updike’s “overall image of 65-year-olds in 1969 is of people who really are over the hill. ”

So once again, Harry Golden was ahead of his time.

Which brings up his meditation (also on page 25), “Memo to Senator Goldwater.”

One of the things which the country could stand right now [1962] is a movement spearheaded by Senator Goldwater [seen below right] and Mr. William Buckley, of the National Review, to change the designation of the “liberal arts college” to the “conservative arts college.”  We might as well have this thing out in then open.

Barry Goldwater photo1962.jpgThere’s some debate whether the “Conservative Tide” in America is waxing or waning. See Conservative tide continues to ebb, particularly on social issues, posted in 2014.  But see also Conservative tide that swept Reagan in may be subsiding, which said basically the same thing in 1985.  The fact remains, however, that Harry had a fine sense of irony.

Which brings up again the title of Harry’s 1962 book, as meditated on by the Zest of Orange blogger:

That word, wrote Golden, “was the expression of a free man.  No one was entitled in Eastern Europe.  You served in the army for 10 years and it entitled you to nothing.  Your taxes entitled you to no franchise.  But in America men were free and entitled…”  Golden wrote those words in 1962.  My, how times have changed.

Times have indeed changed, but so far America remains free…

Which is due in large part to both our national despising of phonies and our sense of American ingenuity.  Harry gave an example on page 108, “You had to have baggage.”  This essay had to do with the Raines law.  Passed in 1896 by the New York legislature, the law “prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday except in hotels.”  As Harry noted, the law was also designed to improve the morals of hotel-keepers (and guests), and to cut down on prostitution.

But as Wikipedia noted, the result was “dozens or Raines law hotels,” usually right over saloons. The result was an actual increase in prostitution, “as the rooms in many ‘Raines law hotels’ were used mostly by prostitutes and unmarried couples.”  There were also the “saloon keepers who mocked the law by setting out ‘brick sandwiches,’ two pieces of bread with a brick in between, thus fulfilling the legal requirement of serving food.”

But Harry noted yet another example of the law of unintended consequences:

When the Raines law was passed … it was designed to improve morals, especially the morals of hotel-keepers and their guests.  One of the provisions of the law was that you could not rent a room to a couple unless they had baggage.  A day after the law went into effect, a dozen luggage stores opened up along Sixth Avenue with big signs, “Baggage rented.”  A fellow with a girl walked into one of these stores and for a two-dollar deposit and a fifty-cents-an-hour rate got a bag filled with newspapers, and they went off together happily to the hotel. When they were through  they returned the bag and got the deposit back.

Which brings up what Calvin – of Calvin and Hobbes – had to say on the matter:

Calvin on Obeying the Law - debate Photo

See also On “expressio unius,” which discussed the concept of gaming the system, otherwise known as “manipulating the system for a desired outcome.”  (At which Americans seem adept.)

And finally, getting back to Harry Golden’s “fine sense of irony.”

On page 218 of You’re entitle’, Harry noted a telling anomaly.  (Again, in 1962):

In the emergency room of the Alachua General Hospital at Gainesville, Florida, there are three thermometers.  They stand in a row on a small shelf with nothing else.  The first is in an open container labeled:  “WHITE – ORAL,” the third is in an identical container labeled, “COLORED – ORAL,” and the middle one, which protrudes through a cork, in its otherwise sameness, is labeled “RECTAL.”

This is what I call gradual integration.

Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry…


The upper image is courtesy of Canoe – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re: World Publishing.  See Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: WORLD PUBLISHING CO., which noted that “World” was a “major publisher of Bibles, dictionaries, and children’s and trade books.”

The Goldwater image is courtesy of Barry Goldwater – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 The Calvin cartoon is courtesy of Calvin on Obeying the Law – Debate Photo (1160519) – Fanpop.

The lower image is courtesy of States.  The caption:  “An African-American man goes into the ‘colored’ entrance of a movie theater in Belzoni, Mississippi, 1939.