John to Arthur, February 22, 1949

Box 107, Hamilton, Illinois

Dear Arthur:

Saw a squib the other day on logical date sequences: odometers, adding machines, etc. have the faster moving digits on the right, ergo the above is preferable to 2/22/49 or the Navy's 22 Feb. 1949 - but who cares? They all make Washington's birthday, and the wholly illogical fact that I am writing you the day after receiving yours a year after receiving mine. Your ribbon is quite black and typing is a new departure - a new plaything, Watson? However, the excellent typing contradicts novelty. Which fits in perfectly with my reactions to your dissertation on how long is a period of time. Youth is filled with novelty: everything amazes, excites the imagination - hence the fullness of a minute. After I had written the first sentence of this letter my five year old prodigy climbed on my desk and talked a blue streak for a half hour about new discoveries requiring only the lifting of an eyelid from where I sit. It took conscious effort to overcome the inertia of my prosaic ennui regarding my favorite corner in order to follow and appreciate his thoughts. If ageing involves skipping of details and increased concentrations it necessarily does so at the expense of sensitivity to environment, which in turn is related to the fullness of time. Such an awkward attempt at rationalization is neither a justification or apology - merely a consequence. And we attempt to strike a balance normal to our years; at times successfully, and more often confusedly. And "unfinished business" is normal to any age, even if we outdo Methusila. To be sure there is an after-glow to accomplishment, but the primal urge is always: what next? At times I envy the bovine complacency of some acquaintances until I see them explode and reveal hidden conflicts which put mine in the shade. You seem to have found wholesome antidotes to the seamy side of life, which, of course, is merely an emphasis of the constructive. In contrast with your St. Aidan's I am in the process of helping liquidate our tempestuous bulwark of faith, ill-fitted to the community - but with a flourish and no disillusionment. Thank heaven for my inheritance of Quaker stability. Chairmanship of the Kiwanis Boys and Girls committee, and president of the employees' company-sponsored social organization provide the extra-curricular outlets at the moment. Have just ordered all materials for rebuilding the local distribution facilities for a town up river on the basis of my design not yet started which must be released to the contractors in detail in time for completion June 1st. Not much time for twiddling. But I have been following the who-done-its in the SEP; and Rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman is helping me focus on the straight and narrow. Last night Esther, Bob and I attended an amazing lecture by a young couple who make their home in northern Alaska (see Reader's Digest March 1948) eight months of the year. They have brushed off the thin veneer of our alleged civiliazation and sought reality in vast isolation. Visited with them - a modest, highly educated, perfectly mated team - they use an aeroplane and modern weapons to survive, and have discovered a fascinating world of their own. Their "religion" compells them to kill fish as soon as caught, and a 2700 bull moose required six weeks of transportation after the kill, not necessary to survival, but conscience dictated no waste. Believe they've got something. Jack sent an interesting map he made of Istambul, and Dick likes being Sports Editor of the Delaware campus paper.

With love to all,
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