OP-ED: Come Home. Love, Dad: A Tough Racket

By Shelly Reuben
OP-ED: Come Home. Love, Dad:  A Tough Racket

July 28, 1973

My dear Shelly ~

Why don’t you give up on New York City and come back to Chicago and Highland Park.  Besides that, quit smoking.  It is a bad habit and can lead only to health troubles.  We are going to be in Washington D.C. on August 19th.  We expect to be in there only one day. 

 But that does not mean that I have given up on you.  I expect to be in New York City after that.  Or better still, maybe you can come here and we can go to California together providing there is no gas shortage.

Michael is going into the business of painting houses.  He is going into it with 2 partners.  They are doing mostly exteriors or whatever else comes along. They are calling the business “RENAISSANCE  PAINTERS.”

Love, Mom, 

Dad, Chuck & Mike

October 9, 1972

My dear Shelly ~

My anxiety for your success increases in proportion as the time approaches of you taking your part upon the great stage of the world.  The audience will form their opinion of you upon your first appearance (making the proper allowances for your inexperience), and so far it will be final.  Alexander Pope has written in his essays: 

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”

Alas and alack!  I do not agree with Alexander.  I think that the cultured man of the world should have a smattering of acquaintance with all trades, civilizations, and handicrafts.  A little bit of Paris and London.  A touch of Barcelona and Cadiz.  A twinkling knowledge of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.  And then again Alaska.  Which we have a flying acquaintance with.

I presume you will be in New York when you get this letter.  Where else, mi querida Chiquita?

We look forward to your visit to the country of your youth!  Then again, we look forward to your traveling to Israel, where once you spoke the language of the Bible.


November 23, 1973

Dear Shelly ~

I received your last letter and thank you for your good wishes on my birthday, which is December 18, 1911.  Approximately the day that the Titanic went under.  And then again, December 8th (Anniversary date!), which is approximately the day that the U.S. declared war against Japan.  Now you have the illustrious dates.

By the way, I might mention that the Art Institute of Chicago has embarked on a huge program of increasing the size of its Art School along Columbus Drive, which is directly in the rear of its existing school.  So if you want to come back you will have a first rate Art School at your service.  They have lithographing, weaving, design, sculpture and painting.   Furthermore, New York City must be blanking out now that they are reaping the effects of the energy crisis.  It might be well if you wrote a few words to Linda.  She is in London, Ontario.  I am sure she would appreciate it hearing from you.

I think your idea of writing children stories is quite interesting and to study in a school of art.

We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.  We played the piano and clarinet and violin, and we sang quite a bit.  Chucky suggests that you read the books of Dickens:  A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and Pickwick Papers.  Incidentally, the Count of Monte Cristo is saturated with pieces of philosophical wisdom and brilliant sayings.   More later, 


December 29, 1973

Dear Shelly ~

I have gone over your short story The Living Doll, and I find it quite readable.  Altho, I must mention that I have at some time in the past read a comparable story about the creation of artificial people and their engagement for sex opportunities.  In that case, however, the characters were made not out of inflatable materials but out of synthetics or artificial substances.  This was written up many years ago in a scientific fantasy of a story.  Your story is quite different, however, and might sell on its own merits.

I must say in addition that the writing business is a tough racket and requires a lot of general reading packed in a world of time plus an extensive program of traveling in different parts of the world.  Meeting interesting people, charming characters and seeing new scenic experiences.  Take for example your mother.  She traveled one time in Israel, 5 years ago, and she is still talking about it.


Copyright © 2011, Shelly Reuben.  Reprinted from Come Home. Love, Dad, originally published by Bernard Street Books. ISBN: 0-9662868-1-2Available from barnesandnoble.com; Amazon.com, or your local bookstore.  Shelly Reuben has been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards.  For more about her books, visit  HYPERLINK "http://www.shellyreuben.com" \o "http://www.shellyreuben.com/" www.shellyreuben.comLink to David M. Kinchen's reviews of her novels "The Skirt Man" and "Tabula Rasa":  HYPERLINK "http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/060605-kinchen-review.html" \o "http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/060605-kinchen-review.html" http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/060605-kinchen-review.html