Vital Signs

The Golden Goose: A Recollection

In the bright, warm autumn of 1947 that followed a chilly summer, several hundred bewildered 17-year-olds found the Ohio State University campus in Columbus swarming with an alien and formidable species: veterans. The war, though well over, was still more a reality than a memory. The Great Depression was over too, having disappeared insensibly in the war years. But the Affluent Society had not yet made its self-congratulatory appearance. There remained a creative poverty, the thrift that spurs imagination and makes it possible to rejoice in building something out of nothing; and there remained what affluence had set its sights on destroying: a certain settledness, a measure of the old quietness, in people and in the streets, that had linked the generations. Sheer "making do" made sense, even to the young. So did discipline, prudence, scholarship, good looks, good clothes, and even, to a certain extent, modesty and chasteness. In 1947, service and good manners were still almost routine. Literacy, including cultural literacy, was an expectation with a moral force behind it. Everyone read, if only Street and Smith pulps, and words seen, heard, formed with the fingers, and unhurriedly turned over in the mind did what can be done for sensibility in no other way.

The scene had something to do with the hatching of The Golden Goose, a little press and little magazine that published established and unestablished writers...

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