RoughneckBook - 2014
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The Roughneck's first book review:
Working an average of twenty hours a day, I finished the book in ten days.
It got a mixed reception at the publishing company. Some of the editors were very enthusiastic about it; others were just as unenthusiastic. So, as is often done, the manuscript was farmed out to another writer for reading and opinion. This young man was the scion of a wealthy Hollywood family, and the author of one novel. He reported that I showed promise "for a beginning writer" but that I obviously did not know enough about life to attempt a novel. I needed to "meet the stark realities of existence at first hand"—not merely to read about them in books, as (he added) I patently had.
The Great Depression:
It was now nearing the fall of 1930, and the economic depression was tightening over Nebraska. But the nation's political and business leaders still proclaimed it a temporary recession. It was merely a readjustment period, and prosperity was just around the corner, et cetera. To reachieve prosperity it was only necessary to "tighten our belts," "overcome sales resistance" and so on.
rooms for five dollars a month. There were stores and markets pleading with customers to buy butter at ten cents a pound, choice porterhouse steak at twelve cents a pound and high grade coffee at three pounds for a quarter. Eggs were six cents a dozen, milk a nickel a quart, bread three loaves for five cents. ... Three large hotcakes with sausage, butter and syrup and coffee—for 'five cents!' Roast beef dinner with four vegetables and beverage, for fifteen cents. Ham or bacon and eggs with French fries ...
School of Hard Knocks:
I spent six years in high school, and I got out then only by falsifying the records. As a youth in my first long pants, I was an associate of chorus girls, grifters, gamblers, and other ne'er-do-wells. By the time I was fifteen, I had been variously employed as a newspaper "man," a burlesque show hawker, a plumber's helper, a comedian in two-reel pictures and in a dozen-odd other occupations. With equal ease, I could quote the Roman lyric poet Catullus, or the odds against making four the hard way. I was not yet sixteen when I became a night bellboy in a luxury hotel. ...
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