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09 February 2022

John Cage's Joke

This is not what you think. Rather, it's literally John Cage's joke, only one of the two he ever told me. It arose spontaneously from my memory in an email exchange today with Alex Ross, who, in case you missed it, has just published a beautiful essay on John Cage in the Oct. 4 issue of The New Yorker.
The joke goes like this:
A congregation of the great religious leaders of the world convened in Boston for an annual conference on the subject of world peace. As the opening reception drew to a close, each of the men moved to take his assigned seat at the long wooden table that had been set up for the occasion. The esteemed Rabbi, chosen to serve as conference leader, began to sit, but then abruptly rose and looked worriedly around the room.
"Is there a Christian Scientist in the house?" he asked hoarsely, noisily clearing his phlegmy throat.
The Christian Scientist rose quickly from his seat at the opposite end of the table, his chest swelling with pride. "I am a Christian Scientist," he solemnly declared.
"Oh, thank goodness!" the Rabbi said, visibly relieved, gathering up his things. "Can we change seats? There seems to be a draft here."
Laura Kuhn

The Halberstadt/Bayreuth Diaries

We're about to go back to Halberstadt at last! We've wanted to return ever since our first visit last year, when Laura Kuhn of the John Cage Trust was responsible for the note-change on the organ. Just prior to that July 2010 visit, we joined Laura and her partner Ralph Benko for a sleepover at the Dornroschenschloss Sababurg -- the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's Castle -- which was everything you could want from a fairy tale location. We might have thought this would be the fun part of the trip, since, looking back, I think we all approached Halberstadt with a bit of trepidation. What kind of strange event would we be attending? Was this to be some kind of wild-eyed geeky wonderment or some ponderous, painfully earnest musicologist's private fantasy??
What we quickly found was as far from both as one could get: the most wonderfully warm, generous, and delightful people, who completely knocked us out with their commitment and hospitality, in a thoroughly charming small town with wonderful places and sights, and a musical project which, in spite of moving at the slowest pace any musical performance has yet achieved, was at once vibrant, historic, and curiously emotional.
There was a note-change earlier this year, but we couldn't go. The Edition Peters companies have been for the last 70 years or so just a loose association of sometimes cooperative firms broken up by both the Holocaust and the establishment of the DDR. Last August, after 17 arduous years of directed effort, they merged into one harmonious business. We had thought our lives might be a little quieter after that, but we couldn't have been more wrong. The last note-change fell on Nicholas's birthday, as it happens, but even that didn't give us the freedom to attend.
Thursday, August 4
After a morning's work, we headed off to Heathrow Airport for the short hop to Berlin, where we'll stay overnight. We're booked into a Suite Novotel, an extraordinary chain of hotels across Germany in which every room in every hotel is identical. All the "services" (bath/shower rooms, closets, loos, and so on) are in a self-contained "pod" built into one part of the room. After you've been to a few of these hotels, you really have to check your itinerary when you wake up each morning to establish which city you're in because the identical nature of every room throughout the chain is extremely disorienting. On the other hand, the rooms are a good size, perfectly comfortable (in a kind of German business hotel way), and incredibly well thought through, so that everything you might has already been provided. It's like living the "optimized" life! We have dinner at a marvelous restaurant in what used to be the East German part of the city, which was recommended to us by the Berlin lawyer who got us through the Edition Peters reunification legalities. The decor is just as it must have been 25 years ago before the Wall came down, but the food is magnificent. Astonishingly, an excellent meal, with wine, cost only 50 euros (or about $70).
Friday, August 5
Woke up in Berlin -- a slight fight through the breakfast room, getting two tiny little tasty sausages with scrambled eggs, which neatly kills off the good effect of the muesli and fresh fruit -- and how we're on the train to Magdeburg. The landscape around Berlin is beautiful, and a constant reminder of the past. Outside our hotel was the magnificent facade of all that is left of the old Anhalterbahnhof, like a stage set, really, a la Billy Wilder's Symphonie einer Grossstadt, and now on the train we've passed Potsdam and surrounding lakes. We've also moved from sunshine to rain.
Just a moment ago, while working away at the laptop, we heard a faint sound, which we couldn't quite identify. Was it the computer's fan going wrong? We finally realized that it was the sound from the Halberstadt website, which we had recently opened and which was now quietly playing the music that is sounding in the Buchardi Kloster through the laptop speakers! John Cage, reaching out to us already.
Before we reach each station, one hears a happy little tun over the train speakers encouraging us to put on our walking boots and climb a big mountain and breathe in the healthy air. It's torture after the fifth time. At first we think it doesn't work at all with ORGAN2/ASLSP streaming from the laptop, but then we remember Cage's Musicircus and think may this is just fine after all.
Arriving at Halberstadt station we're greeted by Martje Hansen, who kindly ushers us to the breathtaking house in which she and her husband Rainer Neugebauer live on the Domplatz. It used to be the town library, and in a sense it still is. The official library may have been moved to specially converted space not far away, but there are probably nearly as many books in the collection still in place, stretching across the many bays that run along the front of the house, overflowing into side rooms and spaces. It is the most extraordinary living space, and simultaneously a magical and fascinating collection of literature, arts, and objets.
Rainer, who is one of the main organizers of the John Cage Organ Project, and who acts as Master of Ceremonies on the note-change days, has more or less lost his voice. Fortunately, a pharmacist has been called who has gone straight for a maximum chemical assault on the virus -- seemingly with good effect, because something of Rainer's voice has returned. He has a great deal of public speaking to do during the rest of the day, so we hope the recovery is sustained!
After lunch, another of the heroes of the Halbertstadt Cage Project joins us, Dr. Harriet Watts, originally from Texas, a member of a particularly select group of human beings: Americans Who Live in Europe. It doesn't make a great mnemonic, but its members have a remarkable combination of qualities: all the energetic "can-do" and "pizazz" that can make Americans so exciting and unnerving to Europeans, coupled with thorough immersion in European culture and style, which seem sometimes to baffle other Americans. In Harriet, it's a particularly powerful mix. Unlike the average English-speaker, she has thoroughly mastered German, and we speak the local language together far more than her native English. She is involved in all manner of important cultural projects around the area as well as with the Cage Organ Project, and evidently accepts no boundaries to what can be done! She lives in nearby Quadlinburg, possibly the prettiest and most delightful town in Germany, so she will also be staying with Martje and Rainer in Halberstadt tonight.

16 May 2018

The Passing of Pia Gilbert (1921-2018)

Pia Gilbert, ever youthful at 95 (© Ralph Benko)

The John Cage Trust mourns the passing of dear Pia Gilbert (1921-2018), who died at home in her Upper West Side apartment in New York on Monday, May 14.  Pia was a close friend to many, including John Cage and Merce Cunningham, and she was among my very first teachers during my graduate school years at U.C.L.A.  Her life was rich and amazing -- you can access her Oral History conducted at U.C.L.A. in 1986-1987 here.  You can also access a beautiful blog posted last year by the author Dawn Denham (formerly Haines) here, which centers around Pia's close friendship with the late American mezzo-soprano, Jan DeGaetani.  While Pia is very much associated in my mind with Los Angeles (where she was close to the entire Schoenberg family), she retired from U.C.L.A. in 1985 and relocated to New York, where she took up a teaching position at the Juilliard School.  She is survived by her daughter, Vivian, her brother, Hans and his wife, Barbara, and their three children, Rebecca, Jonathan, and Sarah.  I am personally quite saddened by her death.  And New York doesn't feel quite the same without her.

Laura Kuhn

19 March 2018

A Eulogy for Gary Lincoff (1942-2018)

The mycological world and beyond mourns the unexpected death on Friday, March 16, 2018, of one of its brightest lights, Gary Lincoff.  Lincoff was well known in the field of mycology, the author of no less than seven mushroom identification guidebooks, including the essential Audubon Field Guide to Mushrooms (1981) and The Complete Mushroom Hunter (2015; rev. edition 2017).  He was an early member of the New York Mycological Society, reconstituted (from two much earlier iterations) by John Cage, Guy G. Nearing, Lois Long, Esther Dam, and Ralph Ferrara in 1962. (Click here for a lengthy letter Cage wrote to disgruntled Society members two years into its new existence). Lincoff became one of Cage's long-time friends and valued colleagues. Lincoff later also became active with the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association (COMA) and the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), serving the latter as president from 1983 to 1988; he also taught classes on mushroom identification and related topics at the New York Botanical Gardens.

Lincoff was expert and charming, with an infectious enthusiasm about all things fungi that charged many a budding amateur mycologist.  You might recognize him from the 2008 Canadian feature film, Know Your Mushrooms, directed and produced by Ron Mann (Sphinx Productions), in which he and Montana's own mycologist-restauranteur Larry Evans were featured as "myco-visionaries."

I never met Lincoff, without question my loss.  But, I've known many people who were moved and inspired by him in addition to John Cage, including the author David Rose, whose work has been featured on "Kuhn's Blog" several times. I've heard David speak about Lincoff many times, and it's never been without reverence and an affectionate smile. Rose delivered a eulogy at Lincoff's funeral yesterday at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. This eulogy appears below, with his kind permission.   

Lincoff is survived by his wife of many years, Irene Liberman, their son Noah Lincoff, and his brother, Bennett Lincoff.

Laura Kuhn


Eulogy for Gary Lincoff

On behalf of the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association (COMA) I offer my sincere condolences to Irene and Noah, to Gary’s family, and to the countless friends of Gary Lincoff in the mycological community and beyond. Gary touched us all in a profound and indelible way. He taught us the science of fungi, and he helped us to know the beauty of the natural world in marvelous, intimate detail.

The physicist Richard Feynman once recommended to his students, “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent, and original manner possible.” I think we know that Gary Lincoff did just that. He forged his own path in mycology, botany, and nature study. In doing so he helped to create a living, lively community.

Gary’s involvement with COMA began in 1975, the same year COMA was founded. He gave countless lectures; he came to every foray; and his last lecture was just last Saturday at COMA’s Mushroom University, which one might say was really “Gary Lincoff University” – a winter tutorial on mushroom genera and species that we’ve sponsored for several years.

Gary gave an annual lecture for COMA every spring. I always enjoyed introducing him, for it gave us a chance to cut up and have fun right before his talk. I once introduced him by reciting the title of every talk he ever did for COMA. This exercise literally took well over five minutes and he was slightly exasperated and amused by this, but I wanted everyone to know that here is a scholar whose dedication is absolutely unstoppable, going back almost half a century! And that was just for COMA! He did this for the New York Mycological Society, for the Telluride Mushroom Festival, and for how many others?

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms was our bible. I have three copies. The first is utterly ruined from a thunderstorm on a foray in the woods, but I will treasure it always for Gary’s inscription: “To Sue and Dave and Lila and Katie Roses are much more interesting than mushrooms. I want photos of all of you! You deserve medals for showing such good humor at the driest foray in a quarter century! That we found so many mushrooms anyway is magic which is what mushrooms are all about!!! – Gary, COMA foray, 30 September 1995.” And at that foray I will

never forget the special attention he gave to my daughters, teaching them how to identify Gomphus, and Leccinum, and other fascinating mushrooms.

Gary was the Socrates of Mycology
that is not a misplaced exaggeration. He really did employ the Socratic Method, just as he incorporated history, biography, epistemology, and literary perspectives into his educational process. He was a true educator. Education” means “drawing one out.” He drew us out and taught us time and again in the words of Henry David Thoreau that “nature works from reverence,and that “The man of most science is the man most alive, and whose life is the greatest event.

Not so long ago Gary took to posting quotations from Thoreau on his Facebook page. In his book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Thoreau said this: What, after all, does the practicalness of life amount to? The things immediate to be done are very trivial. I could postpone them all to hear this locust sing. The most glorious fact in my experience is not anything that I have done or may hope to do, but a transient thought, or vision, or dream, which I have had. I would give all the wealth of the world, and all the deeds of all the heroes, for one true vision.”

Gary Lincoff provided us with that one true vision. When so much of our world is garishly fraudulent, Gary Lincoff was authentic
. His magnanimous friendship was authentic. He was loved by countless thousands of people, and he changed the world for us. We will miss him.

18 March 2018 / David Rose / Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association (COMA) 

06 November 2017

All Over But the Shouting ("Music for Merce," Walker Art Center, 2017)

Quinta, Ikue Mori, Peter Selway, Christian Wolff, David Behrman, John King,
Joan La Barbara, Zeena Parkins, Fast Forward, George Lewis
The marvelous interdisciplinary exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2/8 - 7/30, 2017/Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2/11 - 4/30, 2017) has come to an end.  This landmark show, the visionary work of Fionn Meade and Philip Bither (with Joan Rothfuss and Mary Coyne), focused on Cunningham's dynamic artistic collaborations with a great many people, including John Cage,Trisha Brown, Jasper Johns, Robert Morris, David Tudor, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and countless others.

One of the high points was "Music for Merce: A Two-Night Celebration," a pair of concerts curated by longtime Cunningham musician, John King.  These were heard first at the Walker (McGuire Theater, 2/23 and 2/24), then repeated at Chicago's MCA (2/25 and 2/26), each evening consisting of a separate set of solo, duo, and ensemble works, each concluding with a collectively made realtime composition, billed simply as "Event."  Compositions were by the performers themselves, interspersed with works by David Tudor (Untitled, 1975/1994), John Cage (Fontana Mix with Aria with Indeterminacy, 1958), and Earle Brown (December 1952 and November 1952, both 1952).

It would have been enough to see this incredible roster of performers on the same stage together at the same time.  Each has a tremendous following, and each causes hearts to beat a little faster and pulses to race.  But the truth is that the music that was made that night was beyond good, and will stay in my memory for a very long time.  Perhaps especially David Behrman's Long Throw (2017- ), which was sublime.

Here's a little video clip of one of the ensemble performances, courtesy of the Walker Art Center, just to give you an idea of what you (may have) missed:

Laura Kuhn

16 October 2017

John Cage on Gluttony, Saints, Table Manners, Fasting, and Wild Edibles


Though I am honored to have been asked to speak to you, I am speechless with amazement. That a group of seemingly still-growing young men should have resolved to eat dinner only once a year fills me with awe. I like to think that matters spiritual and physical are so closely united that they cannot be split apart. But your example gives me pause.

Since we at the Center for Advanced Studies not only eat dinner 365 times a year, but indulge also in breakfast and lunch each day, we are so to say 1094 times as dependent on food as you are. This great difference in food consumption makes me suspect that you pick up a little food here and there in the course of a year, when no one is looking, -- or should I say when you yourselves are not singing? I have therefor telephoned Extension 235, spoken to Mrs. Jessie M. Dougherty and found out that this is indeed your only meal this year, that you have no Annual Luncheon, no Annual Breakfast, just this one Annual Dinner. That you dignify it by calling it a Banquet is understandable. And that you have eaten in quantity, unstintingly, is also understandable.

I have unlimited admiration for your Director, Richard K. Winslow. I asked him the other evening whether it was indeed true that food held little attraction for him. He paused and then said: it was, that is, food doesn’t.

Whether your discipline of not eating comes from him to you (indicating his extraordinary powers of direction) or whether your continence has reach from you to him (indicating the infectious quality of your devotion) is a question that defies my powers of thought.

Nevertheless, in keeping with the Wesleyan ideal of the Teacher-Scholar, and not wishing to teach you my bad gluttonish habits, I place before you what I can find in a spirit of scholarship off the top of my head in the way of historical instance that bears a small relationship to your wondrous accomplishment (though these instances may not be said to be commensurate).

I have heard tell of the Incas of Peru who chewed coca leaves in order to avoid eating and yet continue their life of toil carrying stones from hither to yon. It is not known whether or not they sang while working, and whether, if they did sing, they did so in a spirit of glee. I am certain though that, unlike the Incas, you are not addicted to dope or manual labor.

And were there not saints who sat on poles for months without eating? What were their names?

Sri Ramakrishna, an adjudicated 19th century incarnation of God, did indeed stand on one foot for several months in a state of Samadhi, that is to say, spiritual ecstasy. However, one of his disciples from day to day inserted food in his mouth. The mere mention of his name in the present context is out of place. However, he had a great interest in singing and when he was asked by one of his devotees who was a musician whether or not he, the devotee, should give up music and devote himself to the spiritual life, Sri Ramakrishna replied: By no means. Remain a musician. Music is a means of rapid transportation to life everlasting.

This subject of transportation reminds me of another saint, a Tibetan one, Mila Repa, who did not do what you do (that is, eat only one meal a year), but who, remarkably, ate only thistles. This had the effect of his transporting himself through the air in the form of a thistle. He was also able to appear in several different places at the same time. Perhaps your not eating will or has already given you the power of appearing nowhere. (I owe this supposition to N.O. Brown who had the kindness to listen to the first draft of this speech.)

Before leaving the subject of Mila Repa, let me say that he wrote songs, but I forget whether or not he sang them himself. He died as a matter of fact from eating. On three occasions he was offered poisoned food by one of the wives of another saint who was so jealous of Mila Repa’s spiritual position in Tibet that he desired his death. He promised this wife that if she succeeded in getting Mila Repa to eat the poisoned food, that he would make her No.1 among his concubines. Mind you, Mila Repa, through having eaten for years nothing but thistles, was clairvoyant. He knew perfectly well that the food was poisoned. But he also knew clairvoyantly that the lady really wanted him to eat it. Therefor, taking pity on her, the third time she offered it to him, he took it, ate it, but he himself appointed the hour of his death.

My colleague in the Center, Marsden Bates, tells me that there are two volumes of documentation on a forced fasting that took place during the Second World War in a camp of Conscientious Objectors. It appears that the dreams of these men lost all suggestions of the erotic life and became completely devoted to such things as meat and potatoes. I cannot refrain from wondering what the nature of your dreams are, you of the Wesleyan Glee Club. Perhaps after singing all day, you pass a peaceful night undisturbed by dreams, secure in your knowledge of the inevitability of this annual supper for which you have spent an entire year singing.

Fully aware that as a Scholar I cut a poor figure, I have asked Reginald Arragon who spoke last fall at the Convocation in Honor of Scholarship to give me some story that would be appropriate for you to hear after your single dinner of this academic year. He communicated the following delicious text: 
“Picture to yourselves four scholars and scientists, an anthropologist of Russian ancestry, the host, a sociologist, the guest of honor, a psychologist, and a historian, all faculty colleagues, sitting down to a rich Russian midnight repast in honor of the approaching departure of the sociologist from the faculty and community, a separation to be begun by his withdrawal to a theosophical retreat on Orkas Island. For he was a Dutchman who was not only infected by theosophy but seriously so. Unhappily he was even then fasting to give him the spiritual state necessary for profiting from the retreat. The fast permitted him only water, even in the face of this spread of meats, cheeses and cakes, anchovies and caviar, though he confided to us that his wife, who was not present, could have taken orange juice. Such laxity had to be granted to the woman, who is the weaker vessel.
 “The psychologist, a gross, hearty, elephant of a man, not to be outdone in physical endurance or spiritual self-denial by a sociologist, then recalled that he had fasted once, though he had no intention of fasting now. Indeed, he remembered even that the fast was last summer, that it was to cut down his weight, that it went on for weeks, that he did not need even water, but got stronger every day. He was in a forest of the state of Washington and like Paul Bunyan he cut down trees daily. The sociologist’s interest and admiration increased minute by minute as the psychologist added detail after detail to the account of this triumphant fast. ‘But then,’ asked the theosophist, ‘why did you stop?’  Because it was near the 4th of July and the end of the strawberry season, and he succumbed to temptation with the thought that in two days the luscious, red, fresh fruit would be gone irretrievably for a year. So it was in the days before frozen foods, and so the great experiment was abandoned. 
 “Not however was that of the socio-theosophist as he sat in front of the Russian meal and watched the anthropologist, the psychologist, and the historian eat into the night.  He made only one minor concession, of no apparent importance, but one that should be a warning to all fasters to make no concessions (unless it be strawberries), to stay by water, and not venture even to watercress, and certainly not to do so in response to the host’s appeal to friendship and love. Would the guest of honor go without touching any of the repast prepared by the host’s wife especially for the guest? Would he not respond at least with a gesture of gratitude and affection? Would he not toy with a plate of watercress arranged by the hand of the absent hostess (for it was a stag party)? Surely there was no nourishment here, nothing to break the fast! Affection broke the spell, and the taste of a leaf led to that of another and to another, until in the midst of midnight conversation the whole plate (meant originally for all of us) was consumed by one guest of honor, who had eaten nothing for a week and was not really breaking his fast. But let it be a warning!  If you know the virtues of watercress, you need not be told what they do to an empty stomach; and, if you do not know, I advise you not to try it. At any rate, the morning found the sociological theosophist so ill and weak that he had to postpone two days his departure for the retreat. Even then he must barely have re-established his spiritual control of his rebellious physical man.”
 Mr. Arragon’s reference to orange juice reminds me of my mother who once went on an orange juice diet in order to effect a cure of a tumorous condition. When I informed her over the telephone that I had been appointed a Fellow in the Center for Advanced Studies, she said: Why are they always connecting you with the Dance? And then she added, What University did you say you’re going to be in? I said: Wesleyan; and she said, being a good Methodist, Do they know you’re a Zen Buddhist?

Well, in Zen, they say: In summer, perspire. Shiver in winter. I might say in the same spirit: When hungry, eat. However, since being here at Wesleyan I have apparently eaten and drunk excessively. I am now suffering from a gouty arthritic condition.

Consider me, please, irrelevant to your abstinent ways. It is abundantly evident that in an academic situation I am a bad influence. However, following the admonition, Give the Devil his due, I ask you to listen to two of my stories concerning food (they are part of my lecture, Indeterminacy: new aspect ofform in instrumental and electronic music): one is about the death of the Buddha and the other is about the time I myself nearly died.

Dorothy Norman invited me to dinner in New York. There was a lady there from Philadelphia who was an authority on Buddhist art. When she found out I was interested in mushrooms, she said, “Have you an explanation of the symbolism involved in the death of the Buddha by his eating a mushroom?” I explained that I’d never been interested in symbolism; that I preferred just taking things as themselves, not as standing for other things. But then a few days later while rambling in the woods I got to thinking.  I recalled the Indian concept of the relation of life and the seasons. Spring is Creation. Summer is Preservation. Fall is Destruction. Winter is Quiescence. Mushrooms grow most vigorously in the fall, the period of destruction, and the function of many of them is to bring about the final decay of rotting material. In fact, as I read somewhere, the world would be an impassible heap of old rubbish were it not for mushrooms and their capacity to get rid of it. So I wrote to the lady in Philadelphia. I said, “The function of mushrooms is to rid the world of old rubbish. The Buddha died a natural death.”

I will conclude this talk with my second story, for I do not wish to impose too much food for thought on us who have just now filled ourselves, perhaps excessively, though understandably, with actual food.

When I first moved to the country, David Tudor, M.C. Richards, the Weinribs, and I all lived in the same small farmhouse. In order to get some privacy I started taking walks in the woods. It was August. I began collecting the mushrooms, which were growing more or less everywhere. Then I bought some books and tried to find out which mushroom was which. Realizing I needed to get to know someone who knew something about mushrooms, I called the 4H Club in New City. I spoke to a secretary. She said they’d call me back. They never did.

The following spring, after reading about the edibility of skunk cabbage in Medsger’s book on wild plants, I gathered a mess of what I took to be skunk cabbage, gave some to my mother and father (who were visiting) to take home, cooked the rest in three waters with a pinch of soda as Medsger advises, and served it to six people, one of whom, I remember, was from the Museum of Modern Art. I ate more than the others did in an attempt to convey my enthusiasm over edible wild plants. After coffee, poker was proposed. I began winning heavily. M.C. Richards left the table. After a while she came back and whispered in my ear, “Do you feel all right?” I said, “No. I don’t. My throat is burning and I can hardly breathe.” I told the others to divide my winnings, that I was folding. I went outside and retched. Vomiting with diarrhea continued for about two hours. Before I lost my will, I told M.C. Richards to call Mother and Dad and tell them not to eat the skunk cabbage. I asked her how the others were. She said, “They’re not as bad off as you are.” Later, when friends lifted me off the ground to put a blanket under me, I just said, “Leave me alone.” Someone called Dr. Zukor. He prescribed milk and salt. I couldn’t take it. He said, “Get him here immediately.” They did. He pumped my stomach and gave adrenalin to keep my heart beating. Among other things, he said, “Fifteen minutes more and he would have been dead.”

I was removed to the Spring Valley hospital. There during the night I was kept supplied with adrenalin and I was thoroughly cleaned out. In the morning I felt like a million dollars. I rang the bell for the nurse to tell her I was ready to go. No one came. I read a notice on the wall that said that unless one left by noon he would be charged for an extra day. When I saw one of the nurses passing by I yelled something to the effect that she should get me out since I had no money for a second day. Shortly the room was filled with doctors and nurses and in no time at all I was hustled out.

I called up the 4H Club and told them what had happened. I emphasized my determination to go on with wild mushrooms. They said, “Call Mrs. Clark on South Mountain Drive.” She said, “I can’t help you. Call Mr. So-and-So.” I called him. He said, “I can’t help you, but call So-and-So who works in the A&P in Suffern. He knows someone in Ramsey who knows the mushrooms.” Eventually, I got the name and telephone number of Guy G. Nearing. When I called him, he said, “Come over any time you like. I’m almost always here, and I’ll name your mushrooms for you.”

I wrote a letter to Medsger telling him skunk cabbage was poisonous. He never replied. Some time later I read about the need to distinguish between skunk cabbage and the poisonous hellebore. They grow at the same time in the same places. Hellebore has pleated leaves. Skunk cabbage does not.

FINALLY, let me say that I have the same high opinion of your singing that I have of your eating. Therefor I wish all of you (or all of us, for I should like to be included) long, happy lives, during the course of which you may recover from any ill effects of this evening’s banquet and my after-dinner remarks.