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Scouring the Boneyard

August 22nd, 2008 · No Comments

from Harpo Speaks!, by Harpo Marx with Rowland Barber:

The next morning Aleck [Alexander Woollcott] was gone from the island when the rest of us got up, and so was Joe Hennessey.  This meant that Aleck had taken a cooling-off trip, to recover from the incident of the tire.  Most likely he’d gone on a cemetary hunt, in which case he’d be back at the end of the week to recite through cocktails and dinner and half the rest of the night all the “sweet, fantastic names” he’d copied off old tombstones – like “Felicity Calm DeWitt,” “Happy Ivy Wentworth,” “Deuteronomy Newton,” “Lucy Fur Thomas,” “Honesty Policy Dredge,” “Onward Christian Purdy,” or his favorite four sisters, “First Cora Hooker,” “Second Cora Hooker,” “Last Cora Hooker” and “Immaculate C. Hooker.”

Later, I made some of these trips with Aleck.  He couldn’t pass a cemetary without having Joe stop the car so he could explore the boneyard – grave by grave, stooping to read out loud the inscription on each and every one.  What started out to be a viewing of the autumn colors or a back-road tour of the mountains invariably wound up as an excursion to a graveyard.

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