‘Letters We’d Write if We Dared to’

Don Marquis used his newspaper columns to poke fun at popular fads and conventions of the day. Reincarnation and free-verse poetry were skewered with every mention of Archy and Mehitabel, and Don’s Old Soak character owed its long and successful run to the nagging persistence of Prohibition. The era’s rich and powerful politicians and business leaders were targets, too, as evidenced by the following item from Don’s Sun Dial column, reprinted here for the first time since it appeared nearly a century ago.

By Don Marquis
The Evening Sun, September 5, 1922

DEAR MR. ROCKEFELLER: Enclosed is a stamped, addressed envelope. Won’t you please tell me by return mail how to develop a golf game to the place where it will bring me a million dollars a week without working at anything else?

Thanking you in advance for this information, &c.

*  *  *

DEAR PRESIDENT HARDING: How in the world did writing editorials that read just like a marshmallow tastes ever get you so far ahead in politics? I have been writing bad editorials for many years, and all they ever got me was a raise in salary. What I want is the confidence of the people.

Eagerly waiting anything you may or may not say, I am, &c.

*  *  *

DEAR LORD ASTOR: I heard a lot of chauffeurs and footmen and things in a hash joint up near the Plaza Hotel discussing whether the Astor family is an English family with an American branch, or an American family with an English branch, and I would like to know the truth of this. If you don’t know, or don’t want to tell, of course, there is no harm done; I want to be tactful about the inquiry and make you feel at ease in saying anything you have to say.

I am, your Lordship, as Dr. Johnson would say, your Lordship’s most respectful, most humble and most obedient servant, &c.

*  *  *

DEAR MR. HEARST: Once, a good many years ago, I worked for you, although you couldn’t be expected to know about it, for the city editor found it out first, and told me to get to hell out of there. But there was a fellow working there that used to be a Congressman, the boys said, and you were being nice to him because he used to be a Congressman, and everything. Well, what I want to know is this: After this Mr. Hylan gets through being a Mayor, and everything, will you give him some kind of a job around one of your offices, with not much to do, and have everybody treat him kindly? Because, you know, he was a pretty good friend of yours when he was somebody. You ought to. Just between you and me, there wouldn’t be much to that man if his friends dropped him, and I’m kind of worried about his future.

I am, as ever, one of your most amused spectators, &c., &c.

*  *  *

DEAR DAVID LLOYD GEORGE: Still getting away with it, old cock? Heh! What?

Regarding you, as always, with a mixture of skepticism and admiration, I am, &c.

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